“The Wrecking Crew” was an infinite number of studio musicians who were called in to play anonymously on recording sessions by everyone from Nat “King” Cole and Sam Cooke, to the “Beach Boys.”
Drummer Hal Blaine who coined the moniker “The Wrecking Crew”, got his name on the credits now and then, but bassist/guitarist Carol Kaye, (one of the very few female musicians of that era) usually did not. Although Carol was so busy in the 60’s and 70’s, she claims to have been paid more money than the President.
This group of “first call” musicians played on over 500 hit songs in less than a 15 year span. They sometimes worked 18 hours a day, with perhaps an early morning session with The 5th Dimension, a visit with the Mamas and Papas in the afternoon, then an all-nighter with Frank Sinatra. Blaine has drummed on over 150 Top 10 recordings, including one song that was 6 months in the making, “Good Vibrations” by The Beach Boys. In person, you saw the Beach Boys play their own instruments, in the studio it was mostly “The Wrecking Crew.”
Their work was also featured on radio jingles, film trailers and hit television shows like “M.A.S.H,” “Batman,” “Green Acres” and “Bonanza.” These seasoned pros could record 4 songs in less than 3 hours before jumping to another session.
Other key members of “The Wrecking Crew” included Glen Campbell (before he was a star), Leon Russell,Dr John, Jeff Porcaro (later of “Toto”), saxophonist Plas Johnson, drummer Earl Palmer, arranger Jack Nitzsche,Sonny Bono, keyboardists Don Randi & Al De Lory, and guitarists Al Casey,James Burton and Tommy Tedesco.
It is Tommy’s son Denny that realized his father and all these great (mostly uncredited) superb musicians were an unheralded, yet a very huge part of all genres of music for decades. It took Denny 19 years to assemble all the contributors to his excellent documentary of this eclectic group of talent. Unfortunately his dad Tommy didn’t live to see it.
I had the distinct pleasure of meeting director Denny Tedesco, drummer Hal Blaine, and keyboardist Don Randi at “The Pro Drum Shop” at 854 Vine Street, which is (in itself), a museum of Hollywood music history, having been there since 1956. Denny is very proud of his film, telling a story you have probably never heard before.
Don owns “The Baked Potato” nightclub in Studio City, and has played on hundreds of songs, including every album ever released by his very good friend Nancy Sinatra,including “Boots”, which will turn 50 next year. Don and Hal said the first hit song they remember playing together on was the Ronettes 1964 smash hit “Be My Baby,” produced by Phil Spector. The most recent one was what may be the final recording by former bandmate Glen Campbell,”I’m Not Gonna Miss You” which won a Grammy. Glen is also featured in the film, as is Nancy Sinatra. “The Wrecking Crew” opens tonight at the Nuart, and is on VOD.
This is a MUST SEE for music fans.