It is no surprise that Michael Falkenstein is one of the highest sought after Hammond players in all of Europe. The ability to easily control two, sixty-one note keyboards, foot pedals and drawbars all at the same time is not given to everybody, but Michael got it. Mind you, he worked hard to get it.

Michael was born on October 6, 1970 in the city of Langeau in the southern part of West Germany, right next to Ulm, a city being famous for Albert Einstein’s birth as well as a 600-year-old church steeple that happens to be the tallest in the world.

 

At the age of four, his father who, himself was an organist, inspired Michael to play as well. There was a Hammond C-3 and Hammond Aurora Century to play on. Michael grew up with these fantastic instruments on which he learnt to play accurately. On the C-3, he played classics like Bach – and on the Aurora, he copied automatic bass lines and then improvised on them. These two very distinct styles came together to make Michael the organist he is today.

His father’s best friend was also a Hammond organist. When visiting his dad’s friend’s place, he would explore a massive record collection. One album in particular drove Michael crazy. It was, “Wild Bill Davis – Live at Count Basie’s”.

At age 11, he bought a Rhoda Scott album called “Stay”. He loved it so much that he decided to buy 24 more copies just in case the copy he bought first should wear out. His father noticed his interest in this kind of music and ordered two records from the USA: Jimmy Smith “The Cat” and “Mojo”. Needless to say, these became his favourite records.

At age 14, Hammond offered Michael a concert tour with Rosemary Bailey to the 50th anniversary of Hammond Organ Company in Chicago. When Michael was 15, he performed his first solo organ concert at a historic catholic church in Dillingen. It was a pretty big deal seeing as the church was presenting a newly-released pipe organ and most of the audience were organists themselves.

At 16, the turning point in Michael’s development was the discovery of James Brown. James was on a television show that transfixed young Michael. He’d never before heard the funk, never felt the groove or saw the dance, but he would never forget it. Michael believes that if you really admire something or somebody, destiny will bring those people together.

A radio-station in Hamburg had booked the amazing Jimmy Smith for a session. Michael was all too happy to bring in two of his B-3s and three 122 Leslies for the Hammond legend to perform on. Jimmy was trying to light a cigarette (even though smoking was strictly forbidden in the historic building), and bitterly asked Michael what he was doing there. Michael replied, “I’m your cigarette lighter,” and he lit the cigarette. Jimmy liked that. Ever since then, Jimmy always asked for Michael whenever he was in Europe.

Michael Falkenstein says that the chance to meet you’re your very favourite artists is amazing and the chance to perform with these people is unbelievable. Today he works extremely hard to balance the management of Hammond Germany, and still performs every chance he gets. With six albums under his own name, he remains the number one Hammond organist of Germany.

Musico and Bernies Music Land was very proud to present this spectacular performer. If you’d like to know more about Hammond organs or be on our Hammond email invitations list, please contact Kim on (03) 9872 5122 or email [email protected]

Kim K.

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