Jon Hammond was born in Chicago in 1953. His father was a doctor and his mother was a housewife. They both played the piano. In 1957, his parents moved Jon and his four sisters to Berkeley, CA, where his father worked in a hospital as head of the emergency room. When he was nine, Jon started accordion lessons. “In those days, they had studios where parents would drop their kids off after school for tap dancing and accordion lessons. There were accordion bands and they would compete against each other.”
In 1981 Jon took a trip to Paris where he broke through his writers block and wrote some of his best music. He returned to New York with his new tunes and started a production company with the idea of getting a record deal for a friend that had played on a #1 hit record. After months of pounding the pavement with no results, Jon realized he had better work on his own music before his money ran out. He took the last of his savings, including his upcoming rent money, and went into the studio to record what came to be known as “The Late Rent Sessions”.
Jon continued to play gigs in New York and produce his TV show. In 1987, he went to his first trade show (NAMM) where he was introduced to Mr. Julio Guilietti, the man who built his accordion. He then began traveling to trade shows and making contacts with musicians and companies around the world, including Hammond Suzuki. “They gave me the Hammond XB-2, the first really powerful portable Hammond organ. Glenn Derringer, one of my all-time heroes, presented it to me. I got one of the first. Paul Shaffer from the Letterman Show got the other. At the time there was only one EXP-100 expression pedal–we had to share the pedal. I used the pedal for my gigs and when Paul needed it I would bring it over to him at 30 Rockefeller Center on my bicycle.”
In the mid-2000s Jon produced Hammondcast, a radio program for CBS that aired in San Francisco at four in the morning and was rebroadcast before Oakland A’s games. “When the baseball games played in the afternoon, my show would play for about 20 minutes and then it was pre-empted. I had a lot of fun with that.” His guests included Danny Glover, Barry Melton from Country Joe & the Fish, and many local people. “It took me awhile to figure out that I had permission to broadcast anything I wanted. I could play the London Philharmonic or Stevie Wonder. My tag line was ‘Hello, Hello, Hello! Wake up or go back to sleep…’”