Don Shinn

Barely Appreciated

Don Shinn  (born 15 December 1945, Southampton, Hampshire) is an English keyboard player, multi-instrumentalist, composer, and vocalist.  He is known primarily as an organist and pianist, and also plays vibraphone.  In the early-mid 1960’s he recorded and performed with British Beat groups The MeddyEVILS, The Echoes (backing Dusty Springfield), and The Soul Agents (often backing Rod Stewart).  In 1967 he formed his own band The Shinn, which also featured future Uriah Heep bassist Paul Newton, future drummer for The Nice, Brian Davison, and vocalist Eddie Lamb.  He is cited as a pioneer within the progressive rock movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s, and has been acknowledged by British keyboardist/composer Keith Emerson as a major influence.  (More from Wikipedia)

Gene Anthony and Chris Warman left the band in January 1964; and in March 1964, Don Shinn was added on organ.  His strong keyboard work was essential to the band’s sound from then on.  The Lonely Ones officially changed its name to the Soul Agents on April 2, 1964.  The bandmembers were Tony Good (guitar and harmonica), Johnny Keeping (vocals), Jim Sach (bass guitar).  Don Shinn (organ), and Roger Pope (drums).  


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February 19, 1965 marked the appearance of the third single (on Pye) by the Soul AgentsDon’t Break it Up b/w Gospel Train.  Gospel Train is a terrific instrumental anchored by Don Shinn’s Hammond Organ; the song was written by the band, specifically, Tony GoodJim SachDon Shinn, and Roger Pope


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After Don Shinn contracted tuberculosis in July 1965Rod Stewart left the Soul Agents and joined a “supergroup” called Steampacket that was formed by Long John Baldry with organist Brian Auger and vocalist Julie Driscoll, who had previously recorded together as part of Brian Auger and the Trinity.  


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The Soul Agents were essentially out of commission until Don Shinn recovered, and he then assembled a new band with David ‘Dave’ Glover (bass), Peter ‘Pete’ Hunt (drums), and Ian Duck (vocals, guitar, harp).  They were often billed as Don Shinn’s Soul Agents and Don Shinn and the Soul Agents


The band’s fourth and final single came out on Polydor Records in May 1966, “A-Minor Explosion” b/w “Pits of Darkness”, under the name Don Shinn and the Soul Agents.  Both sides were instrumentals that were composed by Don Shinn.  


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On June 6, 1966Keith Emerson – later a founding member of the Nice and Emerson, Lake and Palmer – told Bruno Ceriotti that he was in the audience for a performance by the Soul Agents at the Marquee Club.  As reported by Ceriotti on his blog:  “The not yet famous organ God Keith Emerson was in the audience during one of the band’s Marquee shows that summer, and was duly inspired by Don Shinn’s act that featuring hilarious stage antics such as a habit of disappearing around the back of his organ to draw out weird sounds with the aid of a screwdriver, and also ‘treated’ adaptations of classical pieces such as an arrangement of Edvard Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A Minor, one of the most popular of all piano concerti.  Seeing Don Shinn do that, made Keith Emerson realise that he’d like to compile an act from what Don did.”  


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In September 1966the Soul Agents broke up; as reported by Bruno Ceriotti:  “Don Shinn went to form his own band The ShinnIan Duck joined The MeddyEvilsPete Hunt joined The Quik, and Dave Glover went to form The Loot (that included another former Soul AgentRoger Pope).” 


(May 2014)

Last edited: March 22, 2021