Today's piece was written by Forgotten Hits Reader / Contributor Bob Rush (aka Dr. Robert!) ... and first appeared in the British Publication "The Beat". By Bob's kind permission, we are re-running it today in Forgotten Hits.
I just had the good fortune to screen the new film by
Denny Tedesco entitled, “The Wrecking
Crew.” It’s not widely available to
the public yet, but more on that later. The Wrecking Crew documentary is an
extremely important, and highly entertaining, film. Tedesco is the son of American ace session
guitarist Tommy Tedesco, and although a lot of the focus of the film is on his
father, or from his father’s perspective, it doesn’t play favorites: each member of the Crew is paid tribute, as
is the music that they made. Denny Tedesco is a fine film maker, having produced programs for American
television networks A&E, Biography and Comedy Central, before beginning filming
and production on "The Wrecking Crew” documentary.
If you’re not familiar with The Wrecking Crew by name, I know you’re
aware of their music. They were the group of about a dozen or so crack
musicians who populated the recording studios of Los Angeles, California,
in the 1960s, turning out hit record after incredible hit record with artistry,
dexterity, speed and skill. The group's nickname originated by drummer Hal Blaine, due to the apparent
hostility that older big band-era Hollywood
studio musicians held toward these younger, rock-minded players (who,
themselves, were jazz and traditional musicians). "Somebody said they're
gonna wreck the business," Denny Tedesco explains. "It stuck ... and
it's been a great name." While they worked often with solo artist singers,
Crew members also played on records by some noted '60s rock bands.
Among the hundreds of songs recorded by the Crew and bought and loved by
the public, are: The vast Beach Boys catalog, beginning in 1965, hits by the
Monkees, The Grass Roots, The Association, (my own former band) The Rip Chords,
Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Nancy Sinatra, The Tijuana Brass, The Turtles,
Sonny & Cher, Alvin
& the Chipmunks, The Byrds (first record only), Gary Lewis & the
Playboys, Joe Cocker and so many others we know and love.
Working four or more sessions a day, the players took
everything in stride. "I asked all the musicians, were you ever
intimidated by any of the artists you played for? They all [said] no, not at
all." But when recording with a certain Chairman of the Board, everyone,
says Mr. Tedesco, snapped to. "With Sinatra it was not intimidation as
much as you were on your game."Did the musicians realize they were making
history? "There was no way they thought these songs would last 40
years," Mr. Tedesco says. "As my father said, 'We recorded hundreds
of hits, but we did thousands of bombs.' Going to work every day for 15-20
years, think of how much they recorded that never made history.
The Wrecking Crew were, in many
ways, the American cousins of London’s own previously nameless team of session
musicians consisting of Vic Flick (guitar), Big Jim Sullivan (guitar), Jimmy Page
(guitar), John Baldwin (nee John Paul Jones) (bass, keyboards), Ronnie Verral (drums),
Barry Morgan (drums), Alan Weighell (bass), Dave Richmond (bass), Les Hurdle
(bass), Ronnie Price (piano), Mike Moran (keyboards), Eric Ford (guitar), Bryan Daly
(guitar), Alan Parker (guitar) Clive Hicks (guitar), Clem Cattini (drums) and Bobby Graham
(drums) who played on so many of the hits of the 60’s that originated in the
London studio scene.
The American Wrecking Crew were
called upon by producers such as Phil Spector, Shadow Morton, Lou Adler, Denny
Cordell, Sonny Bono, Brian Wilson, Bones Howe and many others. They’d gather in the studio and read the
charts, or create their own now-iconic lines, and lay down a sound that is at
once recognizable but at the same time chameleonic enough to “become” the
groups and artists for whom they were recording, and helping to create those groups’
unique recorded sounds.
The documentary uses a great deal of never-before-seen footage and
photos, as well as interviews and an interesting narrative, to tell the story
of the Crew through the eyes of Tommy Tedesco and his family, as well as by Hal
Blaine and other surviving members.
According to Denny’s dad, Tommy Tedesco, in his terrific book,
“Confessions of a Guitar Player” (and, indeed, he does confess a great deal),
the “All Star Rhythm Section” of The Wrecking Crew were:
and Earl Palmer - drums,
Russell, Don Randi and Larry Knechtel – piano,
Carol Kaye and Joe Osborne – electric bass,
Lyle Ritz and Red Callender – upright bass and
Campbell, Bill Pitman, Billy Strange, Joe Maphis and, of course, Tommy Tedesco -
The Wrecking Crew documentary has already
been screened to great reception in Leeds and Glasgow.
Denny Tedesco, a one-time resident of Manchester, is spreading the good word so
that it can be further screened and further supported on its way to wide
release. His biggest block to public
distribution is the cost of using the hundreds of songs and clips the Crew
recorded and that are an essential part of the movie. You, the public, are
invited to help arrange screenings of this important documentary, or to make a
contribution to finish paying the music licensing fees. Denny Tedesco says, “The labels and the
publishers are not necessarily the bad guys.
They’ve given me an amazing rate, but there’s just so much music. We’re now only about $200,000 away which,
relatively speaking, is not a lot considering what’s already been paid
for.” The barrier to release is
licensing from record companies and music publishers 133 clips of recordings these
musicians played on. Respecting the film's historical mission, they agreed to
special licensing terms, but Mr. Tedesco is still raising the required amount.
"We know it's not going to be a moneymaker," he admits. "It's
impossible. But you know what? I want this story out there." And do you know what, Denny? So do we!
He accepts donations at his website:
Denny further notes that “If your readers go to the website they can
enjoy a huge amount of outtakes - about
twenty of them.” I did, and they’re
He says, “We want to show our distributors, especially in England, that
we have a real audience. Glasgow, Leeds, Copenhagen,
Di Jeneiro. The audience response is
amazing! Emails of support for a ‘Bring
The Wrecking Crew Documentary to England’ campaign would be terrific.” Let’s do it, gang! For the sake of Rock n’ Roll!
Crew's selected hits:
Rose," Nat King Cole (1962)
• "Be My
Baby," The Ronettes (1963)
• "Surf City,"
Jan & Dean (1963)
Loves Somebody," Dean Martin (1964)
Dreamin'," The Mamas and Papas (1965)
• "You've Lost
That Lovin' Feelin'," The Righteous Brothers (1965)
Tambourine Man," The Byrds (1965)
• "A Taste of
Honey," Herb Alpert & The Tijuana
• "California Girls,"
The Beach Boys (1965)
Vibrations," The Beach Boys (1966)
• "Strangers in
the Night," Frank Sinatra (1966)
• "These Boots
are Made for Walkin'," Nancy Sinatra (1966)
The Association (1967)
"Valleri," The Monkees (1967)
• "The Beat Goes
On," Sonny & Cher (1967)
• "Wichita Lineman,"
Glen Campbell (1969)
all for now. Hope you enjoyed
it. And remember – if anything’s
troubling you, FAHGEDDABOWDITT!!!!
- Dr. Robert for The U.S. Beat
For more information regarding this OUTSTANDING film ... or how YOU can make a contribution to insure its release, please visit The Wrecking Crew websites noted above. We've been touting this film for a couple of years now ... and it really is something. You'll also find information about upcoming screenings of the film ... it's coming ANYWHERE near your area, do yourself a favor and check it out ... you will NOT be disappointed. This truly IS the music of our generation ... to think that this band of musicians was involved with so much of it is nothing short of amazing. Highly recommended ... don't miss it! (kk)