A warm welcome to Don Downin of Arizona. Don writes:
I am an avid fan of Ken Griffin. I think I have most all of his recordings on Lp which I have converted to digital MP3 format and listen to them regularly. I've given a lot of care to those LP's over the years and they still sound like new. I think I first heard his recordings back in the late 50's in skating rinks. I think the thing about him that appeals to me the most is his singing melody loaded with slurs. I also like his lead-ins and endings. Although, I don't know for sure, I think he must have played by ear and put an awful lot of feeling into the melody line. His violin background probably gave him his ear for that singing melody. Is there any way I could get a copy of the "67 Melody Lane TV Series" video? I would love to see the person behind all that great music.
I ran across your site via a yahoo search for Ken, and was very surprised to see the numerous hits. I was, by far, most impressed with the extensive site you've put together. I guess I thought I was just about the only one in the country that still held dear Ken and his music. What a delightful surprise! I think I must have almost 200 of his selections I've converted to MP3 that I play on our DVD player when at home, and on a portable MP3 player in the car and when flying. It's neat to be able to get all of Ken's work on just one CD. I have a model 800 Wurlitzer organ, but haven't been playing it much lately. I just retired from Motorola this past year and hope to get back at it. I definitely want to study Ken's technique and do my best to play in his style. That right hand of his sure could play with a lot of fluid smoothness. Love his slurs. And, it seems he knew just when to use them. I'm glad he didn't get too fancy with the accompaniment, as it would have taken away from his great melody.
What little serious analysis I've done of his songs, it seems to me I noticed he pretty much played only in C, F, and G major keys. I would think playing in those keys would make his finger roll easier to perform. You know, I ran across an email on Google where I think someone said Ken knew Morse Code and used it during his time in the service. If so, that's quite a coincidence, as I've been a ham radio operator since 1960, and have loved sending Morse Code. I have found it so musical and rhythmic. I'll bet that really helped Ken build his ability to play by ear.
Yes, I'm amazed that I'm not alone in being infatuated with Ken's music. Certainly, a lot of that awareness is thanks to your web site.
Thanks for your kind words Don. I hope that you enjoy your contact with the web pages and knowing so many others are still listening to Ken's music.
Upadate 4nd April 2003
Welcome to Jan Loot, who hails from the Netherlands and writes:
"Dear Bill, When I was 10 years old I was crazy about the Cuckoo Waltz from Ken Griffin. Now (I'm 60 years old) I started a while ago to collect more music from Ken. I like Organ music very much. The only LP I have is "The Cuckoo Waltz" released in 1967 by CBS and I send you herewith the Covers. Maybe an other collector is interested in it. Maybe you can tell me where I can get releases on CD ? (I'm still mad about LP's) Waiting for your reply and Best Regards from:
Thanks Jan. For places to find Ken's records read the full article below and you will be sure to find a source for the three CD's that are available and also many of Ken's recordings, on LP, EP or 78 & 45 singles.
UPDATE 19th APRIL 2003
Charles Frodsham of Kansas writes:
"Just discovered your Ken Griffin website, found it very interesting. I never knew what happened to Ken Griffin or when he died. Strangely, no liner notes in his albums addressed that. Has anyone ever written a biography about him? For instance, I would find information on his personal life interesting. Was he ever married? Children?
My first exposure to Ken Griffin was when I was about eight years old and a neighbor who was with a Wichita radio station had given my folks some Ken Griffin Broadcast 78's (used, I'm sure). That was about 1950. It was also the year a skating rink opened near where I lived and organ music there was very popular. I also had some Rondo 45's (Minnetonka and Polka Pops were on them, I think). And I think today I have a couple of Columbia 12-inch LP's.
I've always had many questions about Ken Griffin's career and life, and have always wondered why there was a lack of information on him - even to the extent that it seemed like the linter notes on the Columbia albums didn't have any biographical information (if some did, then I missed them). Anyway, it looks like your website is trying to change that. I wish you well in trying to get as much info put together from family sources as possible. And I wonder if people Ken Griffin worked with could be tracked down?
As a youngster I remember thinking that some of the organ music on Columbia sounded "different" than on the Broadcast and Rondo records. I'll have to go through your website thoroughly and I may find some answers about this, but, if the Columbia albums were Wurlitzer and the Broadcast and Rondo records were Hammond could that explain the difference?. (Although I'm thinking maybe some of the Columbia 45's (singles) might have sounded, to my young, untrained ears, like the earlier material).
My Broadcast and Rondo recordings did not survive. But I remember thinking I preferred the sound of them best. I'd need to listen to his material again to see if, as an adult, I still feel that way. Would the Hammond recordings (and were any of the Columbia's Hammond?) be considered the "real" Ken Griffin? Or do most collectors/fans prefer the Wurlitzer. Or was, what I'm remembering just my imagination - that there really was no discernible difference in sound between the Hammond and Wurlitzer when Griffin was playing?
By the way, does anyone know who Broadcast Records and Rondo were? Did those companies leave a traceable history? I never knew if Broadcast Records were available to the consumer, or just some radio station service".
It's nice to hear from you Charles. Some of your questions are answered in the various sections of these web pages and I have commented on others in my personal reply. Due to Ken's early death, and that he was a very private person in life your questions reflect how his loss affected most of his fans and even after 46 years we are only slowly learning more about him, but there is no doubt that Ken made considerable impact on us all and his deceivingly 'easy' approach to his music and the techniques he developed to produce the organ sounds that made him a one-off has left us wishing to know how it was all done. Likewise, it is only natural too that we would wish to know more about Ken as a person. Hopefully these dedication pages will eventually help to fill in all our questions and build up to a very comprehensive story of Ken and his work, which is well deserved. A biography would be the icing on the cake!