Airdate – Apr 10, 2022
Over the years, there has been injustice done to some artists who have been categorized as a “one-hit wonder.” It’s true, many of them only had one hit on the Billboard Hot 100 – however, their music careers spanned decades and they were well received and admired by many.
Such is the case of a virtuoso organist whose record albums were most popular with the easy listening and space age pop crowd in the 50s and throughout the 70s. In 1955, he made it onto the pop charts topping out at the 19th position …
At the age of 7 this future organist started studying the piano and the accordion while growing up in Florida.
Upon his return from volunteer service in the Navy during WW II, he took advantage of the G.I. Bill, enrolling in the Music Conservatory of Chicago. This occurred shortly after he had spent his Navy earnings on one of the earliest versions of the Hammond Model A organ.
Best known for his unique pop/boogie-woogie style, he played original compositions, popular songs, and novelty tunes, and was a master of improvisation.
A Decca publicist once wrote about keyboard abilities, saying:
“He makes it laugh and weep, pulse and pound, soothe and sway – in short, he makes his organ do everything but sit up and beg …”
This organist was not a Rock & Roller. He fell into the growing “Middle of the Road” genre, touring with the Jimmy Dorsey and Ray Anthony bands and appearing on “The Ed Sullivan Show” and on other TV shows hosted by the likes of Jack Parr, Joey Bishop, and Johnny Carson.
He remained on the Decca label for 20 years. Oddly enough, his first release for Decca in 1955 would be his only charted record.
Born Leonard George DeStoppelaire, he is best known by his stage name, Lenny Dee, and here he is on his organ playing “Plantation Boogie,” this week’s Tom Locke moment in time.
YouTube video of this song: