Harold B. Rhodes in Factory, Fullerton CA, 1982...


P
erhaps the first great musician to recognize the instrument's potential was the legendary jazz trumpeter Miles Davis. It was Davis, always searching for hip new sounds, who insisted his keyboardists play the Rhodes instead of the traditional piano. In doing so, the coolest man in jazz made the Rhodes the coolest keyboard instrument in the world.

By 1967, the new sound was lighting up the airwaves. Joseph Zawinul's "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" became a huge instrumental hit, and soon legendary jazz musicians like Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Bill Evans and Herbie Hancock were using the electric keyboard to bring the piano into the foreground of their arrangements. The whole world heard the Rhodes on records like The Beatles's "Let It Be," Marvin Gaye's "Heard It Through the Grapevine," Stevie Wonder's "You Are The Sunshine of My Life," and Billy Joel's "Just The Way You Are."

Soon, legions of jazz, rock, and pop musicians were hurrying to get the Rhodes sound into their own music. Practically every hit record of the 70's featured a Rhodes piano. The Rhodes piano was endorsed by almost every significant keyboardist, and became the biggest selling professional electric piano of all time.