I recently mentioned the passing of the one of the great, unheralded masters of the Hammond organ, Gene Ludwig. Although he was fortunate to enjoy some latter-day recognition, his name is not one often associated with the legends, but he truly possessed the chops to sit at their table. My childhood friend, John Kent (drummer for The Loved Ones and my own Nick Rossi Set), was the first person to hip me to Gene - slipping me a copy of his 1964 Mainstream LP Organ Out Loud sometime in the mid-1990s. I was floored and continued to pick up his discs where I could. I quickly figured out that much of his early discography consisted of 45s on various local independent labels, which endeared Ludwig even more to me.
A new weblog has been launched here devoted to "keeping record of Pittsburgh's unrecorded recorded history." Their inaugural post is dedicated to the vinyl discography of Gene Ludwig which spans 1962-1987. Many of the discs are illustrated and the site is VERY rich in information. On top of that, there is a sister site on YouTube which features many of the recordings, so you can get yourself a taste of Gene's excellent playing.
Side Notes: I was fortunate to play a role in helping set up a gig for Gene at Club Deluxe up on The Haight here in SF a few years ago, which was his first San Francisco performance in a LONG time. It was a truly ear-opening show. A couple of years later, Gene (without notice) called up onstage to play a tune with his trio at Jazz at Pearl's in North Beach. Nobody knew it at the time, but that was the last time I played the Hammond organ "live." Regardless, the experience was a swift kick in the behind - in the best way possible - and I will always remain grateful to him for that. Finally, while we are dishing out credit, I should mention that in addition to hipping me to Gene, John Kent was also the person responsible for turning me onto Willie Mitchell's unbelievable body of work as a bandleader. Thanks John, wherever you are.