Byron Carlson         Whitney Morton       
            Byron Carlson’s Chicago Marboro Console                                                          Lorin Whitney’s Robert Morton

    So, you think MIDI is difficult? ----- Just try one of these babies sometime! The Carlson console is one of only three 5 manual consoles that Wurlitzer ever produced. There are other 5 manual Wurlitzer consoles but they were not made by the Wurlitzer factory. The Morton console on the right actually started out as a three manual unit according to Lorin Whitney who told me the story during one of my visits to his studio. I was introduced to him by Eddie Dunstedter who was my former instructor at The MacPhail College of Music back in Minneapolis.  When I first came out to California, Eddie insisted that I come over to meet Lorin at the Whitney studio in Glendale. I also had the privilege of meeting Gaylord Carter and a few other notable theater organists who had recorded on this magnificent sounding organ.  Imagine the delight I experienced when I was able to perform on the near “twin” to this organ during the mid-70s in a restaurant in Solana Beach, California. What a rare treat indeed!                   

                                                                Hammond 3

And how about a nice three manual Hammond? Yes, it is real! There were just a few of these around but this is the only one I ever saw in white. My personal 3 manual unit had the regular walnut finish but I never took a decent picture of that console before it was sold to a museum. I also owned two of the original "A" Models, serial number 19 and serial number 1372. The number 19 (the 19th Hammond ever made) had the two bass drawbars located to the far left of the drawbar rail as did all the first 50 Hammonds made. This provided a few problems when playing this console in the recording studio and then performing on a Hammond BC model later in the evening. My good friend Glenn Schmidt of GlennTone Bass and Percussion fame installed the more modern drawbars on this organ sometime in the mid-60s. Over the years, I have probably owned at least 100 organs including Hammond, Conn, Allen, Robert Morton, Wurlitzer and other theater pipe organs! Currently, I am down to just two personal organs and one is soon to be shipped to the Philippines. For pictures of some consoles I have owned  over the years, press HERE                             

If you were around during the fifties, you might just remember the soothing tones of the Hammond Organ and just possibly you (or your parents) might even have one of those old recordings around. But, my career was certainly not limited to a romance with the Hammond Organ. I also studied classical organ at the University of Minnesota. What marvelous sounds would emanate from the huge Northrop Auditorium Aeolian Pipe Organ or from the little Austin practice organs at Scott Hall. (Not necessarily when I was playing them however! Just ask Dr. Edward Berryman. He used to call me "Dr. Pedalthumper" because of the way I used to stomp the pedals. I had a Kreuger Bass unit on my Hammond and learned some bad habits as a club organist.) While this pursuit of classical organ music was quite personally rewarding from the "artistic" standpoint, it really was less than desirable for trying to earn a living. (As we would say today,--it sucked!) I will admit though that there are times I wish that I would have continued my classical studies. During my association with the Conn Organ Division of C. G. Conn, LTD I enjoyed the friendship of perhaps the most proficient classical organist of the 20th century, Richard Ellsasser. He told me once that by the time he was 16 years old he had memorized all of Bach's organ works. (I'm still working on that!) When I mentioned that I had studied with Dr. Berryman he advised that I had studied under one of the best organ instructors since Dr. Albert C. Jennings, also of the University of Minnesota.  I was lucky enough to have had some tutoring by Richard that greatly expanded my organ literature knowledge at the time. I do play at a liturgically based church and try to pass off some Bach each week but I would not ever purport to be a classical concert organist. Just give me a good old Wurlitzer or Robert Morton any day and a few good marches or tangos to play!

Undaunted by meager financial resources, I bravely set out to conquer the musical mountain in the early fifties. Because I had some-what of a "following" in the "Nord'east" (Northeast) Minneapolis area from my boyhood accordion playing days, (I performed at many Polish wedding receptions with a local Polka Band) I felt that the musical world would soon open up to me. After 2 years of playing "Beer Barrel Polka" every night, I accepted a position as a substitute organist at a local skating rink on the South side of town (where I hailed from) performing on a Style "D" Wurlitzer Theater pipe organ. I was in pipe "organ" heaven!!! Here, I was free to play anything from Strauss to Sousa with lots of Latin tunes in the mix--basically, anything skateable!

While I loved the Hammond Organ, (it was also easier to transport) I soon discovered that there is nothing like the sweet sound of a pipe organ. It was here that I first fell in love with what we now term "musical instrument interfaces" as this console had everything you could imagine wired or "interfaced" with the keyboards. Pianos, vibes, xylophones, chimes, drums, train whistles, steamboat whistles, police sirens, tambourines, horns and more I can't remember. It was terrific!!!!

After this experience, I was subsequently fortunate enough to have played upon and recorded at least 35 well known theater pipe organs throughout the US, Canada and Mexico. Included in that mix were some very notable theater organs that had been completely rebuilt and installed in new theaters and Pizza Parlors from Portland to Orlando, Albuquerque to Boston. Some of the "brand" names included Wurlitzer, Kimball, Robert Morton, Barton, (and so many others) from two manuals to five manuals and from 7 to nearly 300 ranks of pipes. The little Style "D" Wurlitzer I started with had only 2 manuals (keyboards, for those of you in Rio Linda) and about nine ranks of pipes (some were added) as I remember, plus the "traps".

During the mid-70's I performed on a three manual 18 rank Wurlitzer which was also housed in an ice skating rink in Paramount, California. It was said that the organ had originally been installed in the Egyptian theater in Los Angeles but that did not square with the Wurlitzer Opus list, so who really knows from whence if came? This unique instrument was owned by one of the most famous names in ice hockey and he was never a player! He also is one of the most "revered" persons in the figure skating world, but he never won any medals! Can you guess who it was?  Of course, he was the late, great, Frank Zamboni, inventor of the famous ice surfacing machine.

A pipe organ rank is usually considered to be a "set" of 61 pipes - one pipe for each note on the manual or keyboard. Often, more pipes per rank (usually 12) will be needed to accommodate the pedal organ for a given "voice." This is not always the case as some voices do not support that range. Besides, the pedals sometimes will have some dedicated ranks of only 32 pipes per voice. For your further edification, the console is merely where the keyboards reside and is not the "organ," per se. (The console could be considered to be the “controller” for the organ.) The "organ" is actually where the sound originates, in this case, the pipe chambers. This is not true for the electronic organ however, as most always the "organ" or tone oscillators are located within the electronic organ console. Both electronic and pipe organs can be equipped with MIDI to drive additional sound sources such as orchestral sound modules or mechanical devices and most electronic organs can also drive many ranks of pipes using the proper MIDI system.

This was probably twenty years prior to experimentation with true digital interfaces but, nonetheless, a very effective learning experience. Maturing from those early days, I assembled several musical groups. The "Larrie Dee Quintet" in the late fifties playing for both show and dance venues, the 9 piece band in the 60's and while working in Las Vegas, arranged and conducted up to 32 piece full orchestras.

I met the lovely and gracious Tanya (real name Tana) while working at a famous Twin City night spot in 1968 doing mad-cap comedy and music. (Paul's Place) We were married later in that year after a "whirlwind" courtship. It is certain that she could still comfortably wear her little costume of 1968 while I, on the other hand, would probably have to stitch several Tux jackets together to make one uniform large enough. (Now you know why I like Teddy Bears so much!)

I returned to the West Coast (with Tanya of course) in 1970 to resume my musical and recording interests and studio pursuits. We left the Hollywood scene in 1975 to move to our new house in Escondido, a suburb of San Diego. (Supposedly to retire from the music business and raise our kids.) Well that didn't work out,--so I still was traveling and performing. But this business has been very good to us, and we thank all who have been a part of our life during those wonderful years of learning. We sincerely ask God's blessings for you all!

Below is that world famous picture of Tanya and myself. Since I originally posted this page in 1996 however, I have lost over 75 pounds and have been toying with the idea of posting pictures of us over the years. I even put up one from my roller rink days in New Jersey in 1955. You can check that picture out using the "Other Consoles I have Owned" link. It's a hoot! So is the one below!

"Bye Now----We love you all!"                         My last accordion playing job at Paul's Place in 1967 on Snelling                                                                                                      Avenue  just  North of Hiway 36 in Roseville, (St. Paul) Minnesota.


Ok! Ok! I give up! Here are two pictures from the Mid-70s. The picture on the left is probably soon after our  youngest child was born. (Remember those hairstyles?) The picture on the right is probably from the early eighties.  Am not she sweet? In September of 2018 we will celebrate our 50th anniversary. How about that Lou Johnson, Bob Matson and Betty Rydell and good old "Jake"?   ------( Private joke!)

       LT2                                        LT6 

Now if you are still curious about Larrie, my good friend Heinz Bomanns in Germany has on his web site a couple of pictures I sent him taken in 1967 and 1988. So, put on your dark glasses and click here-> Larrie And when you are there, click on the "Larrie Dee Special" green logo for more information.