During the 1960s and 1970s, Lowrey was the largest manufacturer of electronic organs in the world. In 1989, the Lowrey Organ Company produced its 1,000,000th organ. Up until 2011, modern Lowrey organs were built in LaGrange Park, Illinois. In 2011 it was announced that production was to be moved to Malaysia.
Most notably, the Lowrey organ differs from the Hammond Organ (which also bears the name of its Chicago-based inventor) in its incorporation of "automatic accompaniment" features. While originally intended for the home entertainment market, it was also used by some rock groups in the 1960s and 1970s. Garth Hudson, the keyboardist of The Band, played a Lowrey Festival organ on many of the group's most notable songs. Its sound can be heard prominently on the 1968 recording of "Chest Fever", which begins with a Bach-inspired prelude/intro. The Lowrey Organ is one of several organs on The Beatles' 1967 song "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!" (from the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album), helping create a fairground atmosphere. A rather surprising use of a Lowrey Organ, on a percussive "marimba repeat" setting - was the synthesizer-like background noise on The Who song "Baba O'Riley". Mike Ratledge of Soft Machine switched from a Vox Continental to a Lowrey Holiday Deluxe sometime between late 1966 and early 1967, and used it from then on, adding a fuzzbox and plugging it into a Marshall stack. To prevent feedback in the silences between notes (consequence of playing at a very high volume), Ratledge invented a style of his own avoiding the between-note gaps by soloing in legato.
From 1966 to 1971, Lowrey also produced organs for Gibson while the guitar manufacturer was owned by parent company Chicago Musical Instruments. The organ was first introduced in 1966 as the Kalamazoo K-101, but was renamed the Gibson G-101 shortly thereafter. The Gibson branded organs' design and circuitry were similarly based on Lowrey's own T-1 and T-2 TLO spinnet models. However, they had several additional features that made their sound distinctive from other Lowrey models, such as "Repeat", "Glide", and "Trumpet Wow-wow" effects.
- "History of tradename". Musical Instrument Technicians Association. 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-07-04. Retrieved 2009-07-27.
- "Music Trades". 1989-07-01. Retrieved 2008-07-20.[dead link]
- Doerschuk, Bob (December 1983). "Garth Hudson: Legendary Organist with '60s Supergroup 'The Band'". Keyboard Magazine.
- Johnson, Brian D. (July 22, 2002). "Garth Hudson (Profile)". Maclean's.
- Lewisohn, Mark (1988). The Beatles Recording Sessions. New York: Harmony Books.
- "Lowrey Berkshire Deluxe TBO-1 organ: Baba O’Riley/Won’t Get Fooled Again ‘synthesizer’ sound". Whotabs. 27 August 2005. Retrieved 14 September 2010.
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