Mike FinniganMike Finnigan

Mike Finnigan was a 19-year-old student at the University of Kansas when he became the proud owner of a Hammond B3 organ. Since then he's transformed into one of the premier purveyors of the instrument. His collaborations have ranged from blues greats Buddy Guy and Etta James, to pop stars Peter Frampton and Rod Stewart, to rockers Jane's Addiction and Poison. He also spent years touring with Crosby, Stills and Nash. But he is perhaps best known for contributing organ to the tracks "Rainy Day, Dream Away" and "Still Raining, Still Dreaming" from Jimi Hendrix's classic "Electric Ladyland."

"When I was starting out I used to play in nightclubs for like weeks at a time. You'd go somewhere and play for two weeks in a club and then they might pick up an option and hold you over. I remember being forcibly held over by a mobbed-up joint -- guys that were part of the broken nose club. ... I was a young guy, and these guys were legitimately gangsters. They were like the real thing. They weren't like just faux tough guys, they were really mobbed up in those days. Like in Youngstown, Ohio, it was like Crimetown, USA. The guy who owned it was a known guy.

"I told him in advance we had another commitment -- it was just before Christmas -- back in Kansas City, and we'd been out in the Midwest and the East for a couple of months.

"I said, 'There's no option on this. We can only do the two weeks.'

"He said, 'Fine.'

"Then after a couple of days he was like, 'We really like your band, I'm thinking about holding you over.'

"I said, 'Don't forget, I told you we had this commitment.'

"Then a couple days later he said, 'I've decided to hold you over.'

"I said, 'But what about ...'

"He said, 'Kid, you don't get it. You're staying!'

"(So we stayed another) two weeks."

— Mike Finnigan


Listen to the original interview.

Listen to other original interviews.