Wurlitzer piano favorites


Few instruments play melancholia like the famed Wurlitzer Electronic Piano. Its touching tremolo is often overlooked but always critical to whatever tune employs it. Here are a few of my favorite examples:

-Neil Young – “See the Sky About to Rain” from On the Beach (1974) [buy]

Neil brings the piano to the center of this song, often sending Ben Keith’s slide guitar to the side. Nevertheless, they complement each other very well.

-Kris Kristofferson – “Epitaph (Black and Blue)” from The Silver Tongued Devil and I (1971)

This song inspired the post. The Wurlitzer is probably meant to lend a more funereal mood as if it wasn’t morbid enough with the vocal and string arrangements. (Buy this album. Fans of John Prine, take note.)

-Wilco – “Jesus, Etc.” from Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002) [buy]

Leave it to Wilco, classicists that they are, to prop the Wurlitzer up in the modern era.  Its use here is primarily as a rhythm instrument under all the strings and plucking. It doesn’t so much sing as propel the song. A lot like Supertramp might use it. Did somebody mention Supertramp?! Man, that was a great band… like Boston, but not as loud and better.

-Supertramp – “The Logical Song” from Breakfast in America (1979) [buy]

The piano is the spine of this song and, indeed, much of the album. How about that sax solo halfway through? That’s killer. What a slick song, eh?

Any other examples you’d care to cite?

*Update (7-30-09): Adam brings up the Fender Rhodes piano, which certainly has its place among the great gear of the 60s and 70s.  The Rhodes’ sound is a bit sharper and jazzier than the Wurlitzer.  I usually associate it with Bitches Brew as played by the late, great Joe Zawinul.  See Glenn’s homage and hear the Rhodes in action.  Also hear Zawinul and Jan Hammer in two different fusion outfits featuring the Rhodes.

As for rock, Pink Floyd owed a lot of its sound on Dark Side to the Rhodes.  Also, see the intro to “Sheep” from 1977’s Animals.

Posted by Jordy


Filed under 1970s, 1990s, 2000s, Rock

9 responses to “Wurlitzer piano favorites

  1. I do like the Wurlitzer, but since we’re talking about electric pianos I feel we would be doing the subject a disservice if we were to leave out the Fender Rhodes.

  2. Wait, I thought Kristofferson was a “Rhodes” scholar. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

    Ah ha ha. Ha.

    That song is awesome, by the way.

    I also nominate “Where It’s At,” by Beck, and “I Heard It Through The Grapevine,” Marvin Gaye (that’s a Wurlitzer, right?).

  3. Pingback: More Electric Pianos « So Well Remembered

  4. Brendan

    Thanks for that list of songs to check out. I never feel sure about whether I’m hearing a Wurlitzer or a Fender Rhodes.

    It’s great that the electric piano is making a strong comeback in jazz these days

  5. Pingback: “Sum bitch has always bored me” « So Well Remembered

  6. Dating the Wurlitzer piano is actually quite easy if you know what to look out for…….

  7. psilas

    I think you’ll find Pink Floyds Dark Side owed a lot to the Wurlitzer, not the Rhodes.

  8. This will be a excellent site, could you be interested in doing an interview regarding how you developed it? If so e-mail me!

Leave a Reply to johandalgaard Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s