RIP Don Leslie

Thought I’d pass this along from my dad. Don Leslie was the inventor of the now ubiquitous “Leslie speaker” for the Hammond organs:

LESLIE-Donald James Leslie, Born Danville, Illinois, April 13, 1911, Passed away September 2 at home at the age of 93. Parents were Benjamin Franklin Leslie, and Lucy Keller Leslie. Preceeded in death by his sisters Dorothy, Helen, Eva, Mary and brother Robert Joseph. He is survived by Carolyn, his wife of 48 years, daughter Jeanine, sons Scott and James, six grandchildren, and sister Mary Elizabeth Grime.

The Leslie family moved to southern California in 1913, settling in Glendale. Donald went to Glendale schools, and graduated from Glendale Union High School in 1929. Acquired knowledge in mechanics, radio, electronics, metals while working at various jobs, including employment at Naval Research Laboratories in Washington D.C. during WWII. Had considerable interest in music, mostly piano and pipe organ.

At the introduction of the Hammond Organ in the early thirties, he invented a unique speaker system, which was called the “Leslie Speaker”, used on Hammond and other electronic organs, by which he became rather famous worldwide. He established Electro Music, in Pasadena and manufactured the Leslie Speaker there for over forty years. CBS acquired his company in 1965, and it became one of the first units of CBS Musical Instruments.

The popularity of his speaker invention earned him several awards, including one from Hammond in 1978 that stated “Donald J. Leslie - In recognition of his outstanding contribution and dedication in making the Hammond-Leslie sound responsible for creating the organ industry”. This speaker invention led to about fifty patents in the musical field, some of which changed the way in which some music was presented.

Other patents awarded to him included radio control of model trains, control and clorination systems for swimming pools.

He was a long time resident of Pasadena, and Altadena, and a member of Annandale Golf Club for many years. His hobbies included Tennis, Music, Model railroads, and Flying private aircraft around the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.

Family and friends are welcome for a celebration of life for Don at the Leslie residence in Altadena Saturday, September 11th beginning at 4:30. In lieu of flowers, contributions in Don’s memory can be made to the American Diabetes Association, P.O. Box 1132, Fairfax, VA 22038-1132. CABOT & SONS, PASADENA DIRECTORS