Papa John DeFrancesco

On September 12th, 1940, John DeFrancesco was born in Niagara Falls, New York, the son of a remarkable Sicilian-born musician, Joe DeFrancesco, who was a member of the Dorsey Brothers swing band and had the uncanny ability to quickly learn and play nearly any musical instrument.

Exposed to music at an early age by his father, John DeFrancesco began playing bugle and trumpet at age 6. After forming a band with several school mates, DeFrancesco played his first professional gig at just 13, at a local nightclub in Niagara Falls.

In 1959, at age 19, DeFrancesco encountered jazz organ legend Jimmy Smith and the course of John’s life was seemingly forever altered. He had become enamored with the organ. Three years after hearing Jimmy Smith perform, DeFrancesco acquired his first Hammond organ, a spinet, and immersed himself in learning to play it. He quickly graduated to the Hammond B-3 and began to play it professionally.

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