Fans were recently shocked to learn that the iconic MSG and Knicks organist, the ‘Phantom of the Garden’ is a man called Ray Castoldi.
Madison Square Garden is The World’s Most Famous Arena and and anybody who’s anybody has played there. The 20,789 seater arena located in Midtown Manhattan is about as an iconic venue as it gets, hosting the likes of Elvis Presley, John Lennon, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Madonna, Elton John, Billy Joel and more.
It is also the home of huge huge pay-per-view events featuring massive names in boxing and combat sports, such as Muhammad Ali, Lennox Lewis, Mike Tyson, and Conor McGregor.
MSG is also the home of the Rangers and Knicks, with fans of both teams regularly packing out the arena to cheer on their favorite team.
Meet Knicks and MSG organist ‘Phantom of the Garden’ aka Ray Castoldi
However, there is one name who has perhaps sold out more shows than anyone else in MSG history. That person is Knicks and MSG organist ‘Phantom of the Garden’ aka Ray Castoldi.
Ray Castoldi is the official Madison Square Gardens organist who has been playing sold-out shows and sporting events since 1989.
Ray is colloquially known as the ‘Phantom of the Garden because he sits high above the crowd and behind the scenes where nobody can see him.
Fans shocked to discover he is a real person
What’s unique about Ray, and MSG, is that he improvises the soundtrack to Rangers and Knicks games in real time. According to WYNC Studios, many major-league teams use recorded organ riffs, but at the Garden, it’s live.
Anyone who’s ever been to MSG will recognise those iconic, almost nostalgic organ riffs in-between plays from a mile off.
When the team scores, he plays something upbeat, and when the team’s needed on defense he plays something with a little more tempo and verve.
“I’m the biggest fan—the biggest cheerleader,” Castoldi says. “I’m the fan who has all the loud equipment to make noise in the arena.”
A video of Ray working his magic behind the scenes at MSG recently went viral. “What percentage of the fans do you think know that you’re a real person?” he’s asked.
“Fewer than I’d like to think”, Ray replies.
We then see Ray perform a few of his patented riffs that make the MSG experience such a special one:
People in the comments were shocked to discover the Phantom of the Garden was actually a real person, but were grateful for finding out:
Ray is not just a whizz on the organ either.
According to Discogs, in the early 90’s, he released a few deep house records on his own label X-Ray Records.
He was also involved in the techno/industrial project Frequency X with fellow New York-based producer Nicolai Vorkapich.
There you have it – one of the biggest Knicks and Rangers legends you’ve probably never heard of.