When we think of Rock n Roll stars like John Lennon, Elvis Presley, Paul McCartney, and Benny Anderson, we would never associate their names with the accordion. That is understandable because all these legends were guitar virtuosos.
We know they were talented musicians who dabbled with just about any musical instrument, but a few of us know that most of these guys started their music careers as accordionists. Yes, you’ve read that right. Some of the greatest music legends learned their first notes on a free-reed instrument.
John Lennon for example started playing the harmonica and then progressed to an accordion. Perhaps that is why we have so many Beatles songs with an accordion sound. Another Beatle, a multitalented instrumentalist who played the accordion easily on and off stage, is Paul McCartney.
North American music and singing legends frequently utilized squeeze boxes on and off stage. Singers like Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley, Barry Manilow, Billy Joel, and Ginger Rogers played the accordion on several occasions.
Benny Anderson of world famous ABBA is an accomplished pianist and keyboardist but he is now devoting a lot of his time to his love of the accordion and playing Swedish folk tunes. You can listen to his Marry Christmas tune on an accordion here.
Music legend like Billy Joel is not only a piano and lyrics virtuoso, he is also a passionate accordionist who hasn’t just “dabbled” with the squeezebox but made them an integral part of some of his greatest hits. His wonderful storytelling accompanied by sounds of a folk tune, a violin, and the accordion is a timeless masterpiece.
Famous California band, The Beach Boys, utilized accordion sounds in several of their tunes. The most famous one would probably be the “Wouldn’t It be nice” tune where the two accordions play the key instruments in the melody.
As the author of the video put it “The unique sound of the two accordions is perhaps the signature element to this song and it provides the song with an extremely colorful rhythm, typical for pop music in 1966.” The accordionists performing it on piano accordions are Franc Marocco and Carl Fortina.
Accordions of Hollywood’s silver screen
Hollywood stars romanticized the accordion too. Famous stars on the silver screen like Fred Astaire, Clint Eastwood, and Jimmy Stewart played the accordion in some of their best performances. Actress Elizabeth Taylor was very fond of accordions, their design appeal, and their charming sounds.
Dino is a hobbyist accordionist who loves music, photography, architecture, design and a slew of other fun things. He decided to launch this blog due to an increasing popularity of the accordion. He learned how to play the accordion by ear as a child and then progressed on to keyboards and eventually a drum set. He grew up in the Balkans and now lives in California where he occasionally plays the accordion at birthday parties and NYE celebrations. He now shares his love for the accordion through this blog.