Photo copyright © 2002 John Scheele.

Of all the musicians in The Band, the most interesting and intriguing is Garth Hudson. The Band was a special group of extraordinary musicians to begin with, but Hudson’s keyboard work took them even higher.

Hudson’s unique gospel-oriented sound partially came from his use of the Lowrey organ. But it was his amazing technique as well. Indeed, the first time I heard Hudson, it was on blues singer John Hammond Jr.’s So Many Roads on Vanguard (he is listed as Eric Hudson) where he played a Hammond–and his organ work on such songs as “Gambler’s Blues” is no less startling. I heard Hudson later that year behind Bob Dylan in October of ’65. The Hawks and Hudson (who without his beard looked remarkably like Jonathan Winters) blew my mind. The sound available on several Dylan bootlegs as well as few legitimately released tracks, was a different sound than The Band would display a few years later. With Dylan holding down the rhythm, Hudson, Robertson and Manuel were free to let loose–and let loose they did. Rock ‘n’ roll was never the same.

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