Russ Gazda recalls listening to his mother playing the Hawaiian Guitar as a child. He played the accordion and later was introduced to the Hammond B-3, thanks to recordings by his hero Booker T. Jones. Russ sought to play wherever he could and in his early days he performed in lounges in the Chicago area, provided organ lessons and worked at the Wurlitzer retail store. He soon began selling organs at the store and in 1975 was hired by Wurlitzer to provide materials for their famous sales training program. The Wurlitzer Way program is legendary within the music industry as many of those trained have gone on to big careers, such as presidents of piano companies. Russ’s role was to provide the PowerPoint programs, slide shows and other audio/visual elements to assist with the training course. He worked for Lowrey Organs for a time before earning his Ph.D. and becoming a college professor. For over 25 years Russ has taught at Arizona State University, both classes on computer science and education.
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