Herbert tells his story
how he came to the organ:
Caused by the 'Virus Hammondius'. For the first time discovered in the USA round the beginning of the thirties in the past century.
Diagnostics of the physical characteristics:
When the patient hears the first letters of the alphabet he shows disturbs of the central nerve system. This will end up in a total fixation and closing for the environment. When the patient is disconnected from his instrument he might show signs of foam round the mouth. (See also: Hammondius Rabiatus).
Therapy: There are not very refined treatments for curing as various hot and cold baths. Besides these there is no other cure than leaving the patient behind his instrument.
Observation for the benefit of the consulting medical officer of health: Avoid positioning of the patient behind instruments with names as Farfisa, Baldwin, Thomas and Würlitzer. By inattention the effects are often disastrous. (See also: The case of patient X. Rebuilding a Farfisa to a pigeon-house). Source: The medical Oxford dictionary
How did it happen?
This question is asked to me with the regularity of a clock (off course a Hammond clock). Often I asked myself this question but never found a conclusive answer. Perhaps it was the man who played the organ at the radio in the fifties on Sunday afternoons. Or it might be the organ player in the movie theater where I went to watch a Western - in which the Indians were always getting the worst of it - that inspired me to play on such an instrument one day. Whatever it might have been, my claim to replace the piano for a mighty Hammond organ was dismissed. The neighbors didn't know what an awful fate they have escaped from, but this aside.
Docile I studied my scales on the German piano, till the moment that the renowned glow lamp factory from the Southern part of the country suddenly came on the market with a very far nephew of a Hammond. This new member of the organ family was called Philicorda.
Stop being hilarious; keep in mind that also Formula 1 pilot Michael Schumacher learned driving in a go-kart.
The boys from Philips had well studied the sound of a Hammond. Despite the fact that the instrument was very limited in his possibilities you could hear - with a lot of fantasy - Hammond sounds. Yet, for a poor student even the Philipian dwarf instrument was a bridge to far.
The luck was turning when I graduated from school and received a Philicorda as satisfaction for the endured hardships of study.
The first brick for what would be expanding to a Hammond empire was laid.
With this formatted radio I have made a lot of stages unsafe, also due to the big fifty-watt's amplifier I connected to the instrument. The sound was overwhelming and attracted the attention of different musicians. One of them was Willem Breuker who asked me to join his new orchestra.
'swing you bastard!'
Half ways the sixties Willem Breuker was trying to achieve the position of guru of the Dutch improvised music scene. To spread his message he founded a big twenty-four-piece orchestra. The task that I was charged with existed in playing clusters were the score did mention it. It was a nice euphemism for hitting the manual with both hands. Willem was also impressed by the sound of turning on and off the 'on/off' switch of the Philicorda. In plenty the score forced me to switch this switch on and off.
On an evil or good day - dependable on the position of the victim - the inevitable happened. The clusters I played in combination with a part of the orchestra started to swing on Willem's score in 'space and time'. The maestro was not pleased. Little clouds of steam escaped from his ears. Ferocious he hit the music-desk in front of him. Pointing in my direction he yelled: 'no swing you bastard. Out!'
After this episode I had had it with the dwarf Hammond. My only goal was now to play on a real one.
Many times I had passed the shopping window of a big piano and organ dealer. A couple of Hammond was exhibited and I went passing by smacking my lips. The prices were also visible and made it impossible for me to enter the shop and order one of the desired instruments. Neither I had the courage to enter the shop and ask if I might play on one of those mighty instruments.
'A real Hammond for $10 a month'
That was the recruiting script on a big sign above the shopping-window of another local music shop. With a kind of Kamikaze feeling I had plundered my savings account for the first payment and entered on a sunny Tuesday morning the shop to make the real deal. In those days you had to pay the enormous amount of $ 1.500 to get the simplest Hammond type L. I was aware of the fact that the rest of my life I should be busy with pay off the instrument, but what the heck. Already infected by the Hammonditis Virus there was no escape and I signed the contract.
During lunch I told my parents what I had done. The reaction of my father was like the eruption of a volcano. He was mad. 'In this family nothing is bought on the never-never', he exclaimed.
'If you are that desperate to get such an organ, I settle it for you', he said.
My father's power of action I had never underestimated but the speed he showed now was almost breathtaking. Straight away he went to the big music shop and asked them if they had a good second hand in stock. They did have a nice model L. I was allowed to play it and answered the question: 'Do you want this organ as your companion for life?' with a frank: 'Yes, I do'.
The next thing my father did was dissolving the contract with the other firm (and it had to be said that they were very accommodating). Two day later the doorbell was ringing and the people of the organ dealer stood in front with my first real Hammond.
Unbelieving as I was I would almost throw myself to the floor exclaiming 'Hallelujah'. Lust for playing the organ was winning from throwing myself to the floor. What a beauty, it was. How nice did it sound. Beautiful! Beautiful? It seemed to me that the organ looked more sophisticated than the one I had played on two day before. The organ showed no scratches or dents, neither on the wood nor on the keys. As a matter of fact it looked if there was never been played on.
The guys who had delivered the organ asked if everything was according to my wishes? Something that I could only respond with vehement nodding assent.
'May I ask you something', I finally said, 'is this the same organ as I played at in the shop? It looks so brand new.'
'Well sir, it's your lucky day, isn't it Peter', said the smallest of the two in beige dust-cloak's hulled men.
'Sure it is', affirmed Peter, >sir received a brand new Hammond'.
Seeing the perplexity on my face, Peter explained: 'you know the salesman placed the price tab on the organ you played on this organ. Probably by accident, but that is not our problem. So we treated this new organ as if was the secondhand one'.
The other employee aimed smirking: 'In fact you bought this new one for a secondhand price. All the papers were already signed and we didn't bother to chance them. Everyone satisfied, or not?'
Yes and how.
When a couple of years later this firm has to close the doors because they went bankrupt, it did not surprise me. The service this firm offered might have cost them a fortune, but their name I will never forget.