Thanks for looking me up on OrganFax. The good news, (for me at least), is that I'm still alive - and still enjoying making music. If you'd like to know a little more about me please read on...
I was born in Hillsborough, Sheffield. Dad taught at one of the local schools - but gave private piano lessons in the evenings and at weekends. It seems to have been quite a musical neighbourhood - because three doors away lived the Dixon family (whose son, Reginald, played the organ in Blackpool!). The 'bug' was obviously infectious and it wasn't long before I started to practice scales and arpeggios along with Dad's other pupils.
A family friend used to entertain at charity events and for the local Darby and Joan club - and I seem to think I was performing my 'party pieces' on piano not long after I started school. By the age of ten I'd decided to be a drummer - and I played for the local Boys' Brigade band. I doubt I was ever any good at it really but I achieved some success, becoming the youngest boy to win the 'Silver Drumsticks' (a local prize) and the more prestigious 'Silver Drum' (for all Sheffield) in one year. The drum lessons continued and led to me joining several brass bands (they were quite big in t' North back then), youth orchestras, concert and military bands and, of course, school 'pop' groups. In fact, just prior to leaving school I almost signed up for the band of the Royal Marines. (I wonder if I'd have had a bit healthier lifestyle if I'd gone through with it... Knowing me I'd probably have just got myself shot!)
Somewhere in the middle this timeline I discovered the organ. My dad played the music for a concert that was put on at his school - and someone lent a small Lowrey organ. I didn't take any notice of it at the time but, at the end of the show, the children presented Dad with an LP featuring Joseph Seal playing a Wurlitzer. It was our first LP and Mum and Dad bought a radiogramme so that they could play it.
I was absolutely enthralled by the sound of the theatre organ and so Dad, who was also the organist and choir-master at our local church, suggested that I should begin taking lessons. I'm afraid I became something of a nuicance at the music shop in town - because I was there at every opportunity collecting brochures, price lists, posters (and tickets to all the free demonstraion shows I could get to). When, just as I was leaving school, a job was advertised, I ditched the idea of the Marines and applied - and so it was that, four years later, I found myself managing the music shop.
Shop work doesn't often pay well and, to supplement my wages (and to pay for a car), I taught the organ and played in a variety of venues during the evening. Like many young players I struggled to get my name noticed on the organ club circuit but by the mid/late 1970s, thanks largely to the efforts of Jack Bradwell, the Secretary of the Sheffield Electronic Organ Club (now both long gone), I began to get bookings outside Sheffield for the first time.
In 1980, Yamaha (then Kemble Organ Sales Ltd) offered me a job as staff demonstrator / concert artist. They were launching a new organ called the D85. Nobody knew it at that time, but that range of instruments was to put Yamaha at the head of the league, ahead of former big names, such as Hammond, Lowrey, Wurlitzer, etc.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Yamaha - especially the early years - and I stayed with the company until 2000 when ill health forced me to quit and exchange the exciting but exhausting lifestyle for something a little less hectic. I achieved my personal dream, played some of the best (and most expensive) instruments available, travelled the world, worked with some wonderful musicians - and made many, many friends.
Glyn Madden - today...
During 1995 I started to publish a newsletter in my spare time - under the banner 'Yamaha Club' - providing hints, tips, news and workshops to Yamaha keyboard and organ enthusiasts. On leaving Yamaha in 2000 I turned my full attention towards this. Today the Yamaha Club still has a strong following and our full colour glossy magazine is published and distributed every two months to subscribers.
I continue to play for my own enjoyment and, locally, for non-organ club events. Through my continued association with Yamaha UK I've produced several promotional video/DVD recordings as well as a series of tutorial DVD workshops for Yamaha Club. Now though, with no particular ties to any specific manufacturer, I've been free to explore other makes of instrument and, in a return to my 'Hammond' based roots, I discovered (and completely fell for) the 'Nord' organ - produced by the Swedish 'Clavia' company. This instrument's natural 'organ' sound, combined with its incredible lightness, has rekindled my interest in playing a few concerts and I now accept just a handful of bookings each year outside my local area - although the number I can take on is very limited due to the demands of the Yamaha Club.
Naturally Yamaha still plays a huge part in my life - and the keyboards it produces are ever present in my stage line-up. The Tyros series continues to thrive and its true-to-life instrumental voices provide all the 'band' (i.e. non-organ) sounds in my set-up. Although the Tyros keyboard forms the heart of my studio equipment my choice for the stage (when I have the luxury of having an instrument supplied!) is invariably the Clavinova.
Yamaha Club Magazine:
Back in 1995 I set this up with a view to building something that would provide an income when I decided to stop touring. That day came somewhat sooner than intended of course and Catherine and I have given our full-time attention to the project ever since.
The Club is still doing well and feedback about the magazine continues to be really good. The percentage of members re-subscribing continues to rise - so we must be doing something right, and this is very encouraging. The level of new memberships, however, has slowed recently and we have seen our first fall in the overall number. Hopefully this is just a 'blip' but the production of a magazine incurs the inevitable costs involved with print and postage and more of our traditional customers are joining the 'online' community - where, although what you find there is sometimes not based too closely in fact, it is immediately available (and free). I think many will agree though that there is still something very attractive about a high quality glossy mag.
If you'd like to know more about Yamaha Club contact Cathy on 01246 290454 - or visit our website at www.yamaha-club.co.uk