Georgie Fame

Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames were at the top of the singles chart in the UK with ‘Yeh Yeh’ on this day in 1965.

The song was originally recorded by legendary Afro-Cuban jazz percussionist and band leader Ramón “Mongo” Santamaria in 1963, and later that year, at the Newport Jazz Festival, with lyrics by Jon Hendricks of American jazz vocal trio Lambert, Hendricks & Ross (by now Lambert, Hendricks & Bavan).

Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames were one of the most popular, and most jazz-influenced, R&B bands on the London club circuit in the Sixties. They had two other UK chart-topping singles: ‘Get Away’, in June 1966, and ‘The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde’, in December 1967. The latter was also a Top Ten hit stateside.

Singer, pianist and organist Georgie, a founder member of Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings, also enjoyed a successful solo career and became a much sought-after hired-hand; indeed, he can be heard on On an Island, played and acted as musical director on all of Van Morrison’s albums between 1989 and 1997, and has also worked with the likes of Count Basie, Eric Clapton, Gene Vincent and Muddy Waters.

Here’s the song, anyway. Get a load of the front row. And you thought only the youth of today has a tendency to appear empty-headed and expressionless.

Just kidding, kids.

The topic today, then, as I hear you scratching your puzzled brows: recommended, possibly jazz-influenced, tracks from your favourite keyboardists and organists (as opposed to pianists, as we’ve already covered them).

I can’t decide if it would be best to spend an hour or so listening to the glorious music that Richard Wright composed before or after I attempt this exercise. The one thing I can be sure of is that I will not be the only one likely to question whether there has ever been anyone I have enjoyed listening to more.

Wikipedia has a list of Hammond organ players, which of course includes Richard, and has reminded me of a few talented others. For example, Dave “Baby” Cortez, who also recorded ‘Yeh Yeh’ in 1965 and apparently gave us the first pop/rock hit to feature the organ as the lead instrument (‘The Happy Organ’ in 1959, which was also Billboard’s first instrumental Hot 100 No. 1, fact fans).

Author: FEd

Features Editor of David Gilmour’s official blog, The Blog (‘Features’ previously being its rather naff title), affectionately – or lazily – shortened to ‘FEd’.

41 thoughts on “Georgie Fame”

  1. Pingback: Topsy.com
  2. The 60s really did have some great organists like Steve Winwood and Richard Wright. Plus there were some really good groups like the Box Tops, the Young Rascals and Argent and many more who had great organists in their band that made rockaroll really great.

    Thomas

    1. But having seen the Steve Winwood/Eric Clapton concert a few years ago, I have to say the Steve Winwood is also an awesome guitar player.

      Thanks.

      Andrew

  3. Donald Fagen does a song called “Walk Between the Raindrops” from the Nightfly album… what a groovy track it is!

    Billy Preston who I had the pleasure of seeing was on another level as a musician… great player, “You Are So Beautiful” was written for his mother.

  4. Hi FEd,

    I see your Welsh snow has abated, and is no longer falling on the Yuletide Blog.

    A belated Happy New Year to you and yours.

    1. Happy New Year to you, Roger.

      In my desperation, I dragged the blog snow out for a day or two, but now, like the real stuff, it’s gone, all gone.

  5. It always amazes me to see those ‘rock’ bands of the 60s play and sing, dressed in black suit, black tie and white shirt, just like… bankers. How bizarre and disturbing. 😉

    I don’t know many of the organists of the list, so I just want to express my admiration for the gifted multi-instrumentalist Rick Wright, the ethereal, atmospheric, sometimes haunting keyboards he played with PF, David in 2006 (what a joy) and also on ‘Broken China’ that I have rediscovered after this sad day of September 2008. A masterpiece. A truly human and inspirational work of art.

    1. Michèle,

      But certainly we can also add Jean Michel Jarre to the list. He is one of the tops in my book.

      Thanks.

      Andrew

    2. Speaking of Jean Michel Jarre, I always wondered if the Gary Wallis who played percussion at his Millennium Concert at the Pyramids in Egypt was THE Gary Wallis of Pink Floyd (AMLOR Tour)… ?

  6. One of my favorites from Rick Wakeman is “White Rock.” It is a gorgeous album from the man I first got to know as the Yes keyboardist.

    1. I’m hoping for some direction as I listen to Blind Faith.

      Can’t find your way home again FEd?

      Thanks.

      Andrew

    2. 😀 Well, All Right… I admit it.

      Steve Winwood, as you rightly said in response to Thomas, is so much more than an amazing keyboardist. He’s also one hell of a singer/songwriter.

    3. Concerning Steve Winwood, Fed:

      If you haven’t already, once you’re through with Blind Faith, check out Traffic’s ‘John Barleycorn Must Die’. An absolute Winwood delight.

    4. If you haven’t already, once you’re through with Blind Faith, check out Traffic’s ‘John Barleycorn Must Die’. An absolute Winwood delight.

      Thanks for the recommendation, John. Lovely song.

  7. How about Bo Hansson?

    I recommend his “Lord of the Rings” album for some awesome keyboard playing.

    1. Excellent choice, Lorraine.

      Do you think Labour should adopt ‘Golden Brown’ as Gordon Brown’s song for the forthcoming election? I’m not sure about the line, ‘Never a frown with Gordon Brown’, though. They’ll have to rework the lyrics a bit.

      That said, I know I’d much rather a somewhat dour Labour man in charge than a self-satisfied, orange-faced Tory git

    2. It’s ironic that your team is red whilst my team is blue, FEd! 😛

      Hey! Where is the sticky-out tongue emoticon?

    3. The old emoticons will be back soon, I’ve decided. I can cope quite easily without a SarcMark, thank you very much, but we need to be able to poke out our tongues every now and then, damn it.

    4. Do you think Labour should adopt ‘Golden Brown’ as Gordon Brown’s song for the forthcoming election?

      Only if we can point and sing a quick chorus of Lyin’ Eyes’ every time they show Airbrushed Dave.

    5. Only if we can point and sing a quick chorus of Lyin’ Eyes every time they show Airbrushed Dave.

      I forget if it’s mentioned in John Prescott’s autobiography or George Galloway’s (Galloway’s, I expect), but apparently the two enjoyed singing that about Tony Blair.

      I’m hoping there will be some tough questions for Bliar (it’s not a typo) next Friday at the Iraq Inquiry. Jack Straw’s turn today.

  8. Steve Winwood, as you rightly said in response to Thomas, is so much more than an amazing keyboardist. He’s also one hell of a singer/songwriter.

    Great Strat player as well… Live at MSG has some nice playing and singing on it.

  9. Apart from Richard Wright, who’s obviously at the top of my list, I think my favourite keyboardists are Tony Banks (Genesis), Rick Wakeman (Yes) and Guy Fletcher (Dire Straits and Mark Knopfler).

    Reading Wikipedia, I’ve seen Tori Amos is also in the list. I’ve always liked her as a pianist, but I didn’t know she played the Hammond organ.

    And then, what about Jon Carin?

  10. The topic today, then, as I hear you scratching your puzzled brows: recommended, possibly jazz-influenced, tracks from your favourite keyboardists and organists

    Two tracks that immediately spring to my mind are by Booker T & The MGs: ‘Time Is Tight’ and ‘Green Onions’ (did a certain Bass player plagiarize this riff on ‘Money’?).

    I can’t decide if it would be best to spend an hour or so listening to the glorious music that Richard Wright composed before or after I attempt this exercise. The one thing I can be sure of is that I will not be the only one likely to question whether there has ever been anyone I have enjoyed listening to more.

    I’m definitely with you on that score, FEd. Richard is synonymous with the Hammond. He had the wonderful ability of caressing so much soul out of it. Coupled with David’s gift on the guitar, there has never been anyone else that comes close to such aural splendour.

    ‘Wet Dream’ contains a couple of jazzy Hammond tracks: ‘Drop in From The Top’ and ‘Funky Deux’.

    Strange fact of the day…

    Eerily enough, ‘Wet Dream’ was released exactly 30 years to the day before Richard’s untimely passing.

  11. Yeh yeh, I enjoyed that.

    Did you know anybody in the front row?

    It’s an interesting list with a few surprises.

    Cheers,
    snow.

    1. Did you know anybody in the front row?

      No, but if I did, I don’t know if I’d admit it. What a miserable bunch.

    2. There’s no doubt about it, you’re sharp.

      I did have to Google his name. He died very young.

      Cheers.

  12. Hi FEd and Bloggers!

    I like very much Jazz and especially in London and now I’m in London until Sunday.

    Maybe I’ll go to Ronnie Scott’s Club, the “temple” of Jazz.

    Greetings from London, 😛
    Hydrea

  13. How about going way back to Iron Butterfly with Doug Ingle who authored and played keyboards on their biggest hit In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida? If you have 17 minutes to kill, it is worth a listen.

    Also, staying with the 60s for the moment, you have Mark Stein of the band Vanilla Fudge not heavy on keyboards but certainly a big part of the band. You Keep Me Hanging On was their biggest success but I like the cover of Donovan’s Season of the Witch.

    The first two are certainly not common names when talking keyboard/organ players but I am a bit surprised that no one has mentioned Ray Manzarek of The Doors. Light My Fire might be more acid-influenced than jazz-influenced but the keyboard is certainly very prominent in the song.

    Thanks.

    Andrew

    1. Thanks for mentioning Ray Manzarek, Andrew. What a fine keyboard player.

      I’m listening to ‘Strange Days’ as I type, funnily enough.

  14. Belated Happy New Year to one and all.

    Regarding the Jazz theme, we were lucky enough to get to one of Harry Waters gigs last September, the first time I had ever been to a jazz concert, he played a lovely variety of his own compositions together with some more familiar works… very, very good and a lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

  15. Get a load of the front row. And you thought only the youth of today has a tendency to appear empty-headed and expressionless.

    Isn’t that the same thing that David sees in the front row when he performs?? 😀 😀

    Thanks.

    Andrew

  16. This one is so hard…

    Of course, at the very top of my personal favorite list is Richard Wright’s work with Pink Floyd. Tony Banks’ work during the Gabriel-era Genesis would be another personal favorite.

    Then of course, there’s Garth Hudson’s work (with Dylan and The Band). I’m not sure, would Brian Eno count? Or the keyboardists of Kraftwerk and early 70s Tangerine Dream?

    And then, when I think of soul and funk that I like (Stevie Wonder, of course!), and, say, jazz fusion (Chick Corea, par exemple), my list would be just too big as to be utterly meaningless… 🙂

  17. Hi There.

    Having spotted the name of Georgie Fame here, a Hammond Organ player, I would like to suggest a listen to Argent’s “Hold your Head up” full length version of course, also Brian Auger’s Ellis Island, both are cracking tracks, as it were, but Rick’s Hammond in Echoes will always be (W)right up there.

    Cheers all,
    from Howard

  18. Know it’s a bit late to join the original conversation but thought it worthwhile to let you and everyone know that Georgie Fame is performing on Oct. 13, 2011 at The Castle in East Finchley.

    It’s his return to this venue which has a real great intimate feel, letting you get real close to Georgie and the band. Saw him there last time and very excited to see him again.

    You can learn more about The Castle here.

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