The Wrecking Crew – Highlights from the 3/13 Rock and Roll Revisited

It’s the best movie about the men and women behind the hitmakers I’ve ever seen. It took a long time for Denny Tedesco to get his loving tribute to his father and the people who worked with him made. But it was well worth the wait. What we learned was that the late Hal Blaine gave “The Wrecking Crew” its name, that they were a loosely organized group of session musicians, most with jazz backgrounds, that they could sight-read a chart to perfection, and that their combined creativity contributed to over 35,000 tracks, 150 Top Ten hits and 40 No. 1 singles. Tommy Tedesco, was one of the core members . The guitar intros to The Twilight Zone, Green Acres, Bonanza, M*A*S*H and Batman? That’s Tommy. The bass line on “The Beat Goes On”?  Carol Kaye, came up with that one on the fly. Some, like Glen Campbell, Mac Rebennack (later known as Dr. John), Leon RussellAndrew Gold and Larry Knechtel went on to become solo artists or contribute to brand names like Bread. During a 15 year period, there wasn’t a quarter hour on the radio where you didn’t hear a tune backed by The Wrecking Crew. And the many of the hits that we continue to request today bear their stamp of creativity. A partial list of their work includes: “Be My Baby“, “The Little Old Lady (from Pasadena)“, “Mr. Tambourine Man“,  “Sloop John B“, “California Dreamin’“, “Bridge Over Troubled Water“, “Classical Gas“, “Eve of Destruction“, “Everybody Loves Somebody“, “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’“, “This Diamond Ring“, “Good Vibrations“, “Strangers in the Night“, ” Elusive Butterfly“, “Never My Love“, “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)“, “Midnight Confessions“, “MacArthur Park“, ”Tiptoe Through the Tulips“, “Valleri“, “Chevy Van” and “Love Will Keep Us Together“. They were essential to  Phil Spector‘s “Wall of Sound”, were the back-up band for The T.A.M.I. Show, supercharged hits for Elvis, stood beside Rick Nelson on Ozzie and Harriet and were favored by legendary producers like  Brian WilsonTerry MelcherLou AdlerBones HoweJimmy Bowen, and Mike Post.

Picking just four tracks for today’s post was an impossible task. I decided they should all feature Hal Blaine, since he left us yesterday at age 90. If American Pop moved you between 1960 and 1975, there’s a good chance that “The Wrecking Crew” helped make the magic.

Quick Takes:

I remember a time when everyone in my family and most of my friends had a T-shirt with my radio station’s logo on it. How import is merchandising in the Internet age? via @Jacobsmedia

Did you ever own a “Creepy Crawlers” set? Here’s a classic 60s TV commercial for the popular toy made by Mattel. The heating element probably wouldn’t pass the lawsuit test today. In May 2018, it was announced that a film based on Creepy Crawlers is in development. The film rights were acquired by Paramount Pictures.

Today In History:

1964: Sales of The Beatles‘ records account for 60% of the market, a record that hasn’t been matched since.
1965: Eric Clapton leaves the Yardbirds. Jeff Beck replaces him.
1969: Elvis Presley‘s film Charro! opens in theaters.
1976: The Jackson 5 leave Motown Records for Epic changing their name to the Jacksons.
1979: Olivia Newton-John receives the Officer of the Order of the British Empire medal from Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace.
1981: John Lennon‘s “Watching The Wheels” is released posthumously.
1987: Bryan Adams releases “Heat Of The Night” as a cassette single (or a cassingle, as it was called), the first of its kind.
1987: Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Released Today:
1956: Elvis Presley (Self Titled) – Believed to be the first LP to sell a million copies.
1964: Mary Wells – My Guy
1970: Tyrannosaurus Rex – A Beard Of Stars
1972: Cat Stevens – Morning Has Broken

Happy Birthday to:
(1914) Sammy Kaye (d. 1987)
(1939) Neil Sedaka
(1940) Candi Staton
(1950) William H. Macy
(1956) Dana Delany

Much More Music:

1966: “Monday Monday” – The Mamas & Papas: Barry Maguire (“Eve of Destruction”) discovered the Mamas & Papas when he used them to back him up on John Phillips’ composition “California Dreamin'” and then gave it to them to record. (Video)


1967: “The Happening” – The Supremes: Yup, Hal played on a Motown track. He totally drives the back beat on “The Happening”. (Video)


1968: “California Soul” –  The Fifth Dimension: Hal stated that his favorite sessions happened with the Fifth Dimension and you get the feeling from the opening drum and horn licks in this  Ashford & Simpson tune. Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell had modest success with it the following year, their last collaboration before her untimely death. (Video)

Today’s Quote Worth Re-quoting: “You’ve got to be the master of your instrument, you’ve got to be dedicated, and you’ve got to do a lot of practicing, especially in the beginning. Once you’ve got it, you’ve got it. It will always be with you.” ~Hal Blaine

One More for the Road: We’ll send you on your way with this rare studio footage of the Wrecking Crew in action, recording “Good Vibrations” with the Beach Boys. In addition to seeing Hal Blaine on the drums, you’ll get a glimpse at Brian Wilson’s production artistry and the distinctive harmonies that became synonymous with the Beach Boy Brand. (Video)