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Obituaries in the News

Despite controversies over his comments on race and his private life, he only seemed to grow more popular with conservative Mississippians even though his agenda of tax cuts, school choice and term limits stalled in the Democrat-controlled Legislature.


Donald Leslie

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Donald James Leslie, who created and manufactured a speaker that refined the sound of the Hammond organ and helped popularize electronic music, died Thursday. He was 93.

Leslie was captivated with the sound of the Hammond organ when he heard it at a furniture store where he worked repairing radios. In the store's large showroom, the organ introduced in 1935 sounded much like a theater or church pipe organ.

However, Leslie was unimpressed with the organ's sound quality in the confined spaces of his home.

He began tinkering with devices to make the instrument sound more like labyrinthine pipe organs, using mechanics and electronics experience from a series of jobs, including one at the Naval Research Laboratories in Washington, D.C., during World War II.

When Leslie presented Hammond with an organ speaker he had built by hand, the company rejected it and turned him down for a job.

Leslie later founded Electro Music in Pasadena to manufacture his Leslie speaker. It popularized electronic music during the 1940s by improving the sound of organs and keyboards, including those made by Hammond, Baldwin, Kimball and Yamaha.

It wasn't until the 1980s that Hammond eventually bought Leslie's loudspeaker, which is now built by Hammond-Suzuki USA.

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© 2004 The Associated Press