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Music Masters: The Wrecking Crew

Music Masters: The Wrecking Crew

It’s taken Denny Tedesco seven years to get a proper
theatrical release for his joyful documentary The Wrecking Crew, after years on the festival circuit, but it’s
been worth the wait. This is a loving tribute to the studio session musicians
who populated hundreds of hit records, primarily in the 1960s. If you lived
through that era and remember the pop music, from Nancy Sinatra to the Beach
Boys, from the Mamas and the Papas to Sonny and Cher, I think you’ll react to
this film as I did, with a smile of warm nostalgia.

The filmmaker is the son of Tommy Tedesco, a ubiquitous
guitarist whose “twang” heralded the theme song of Bonanza on television. Fortunately, Denny captured his father on
camera before his passing, and he has many great, funny stories to tell, along
with bass player Carol Kaye (the primary woman on the scene), guitarist Glen
Campbell (a much-respected musician before he ever tried vocalizing), drummer
Earl Palmer, and many others.

It turns out that members of the Wrecking Crew—a general
nickname for these backup players, whose members varied from session to
session—were responsible for the sound of The Tijuana Brass, The Monkees, and
many other groups, although they seldom received credit. Herb Alpert, Brian
Wilson, Cher, Mickey Dolenz, Roger McGuinn, Nancy Sinatra, and producer Lou
Adler all testify to this fact, expressing enormous admiration for these
incredibly versatile instrumentalists.

They often worked around the clock, playing on rhythm &
blues, rock and roll, and mainstream pop recordings and earning a handsome
living, sometimes sacrificing personal and family relationships along the way.  

And then, seemingly overnight, it all disappeared. An era
was over. Thank goodness Denny Tedesco captured his interviews when he did.

I love this film and didn’t want it to end. Whether you’re a
music lover in general or a baby boomer harboring affection for the tunes of
your time, make a beeline for any theater showing The Wrecking Crew. It’s a gem.

 

 

 

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Comments

Michael Murphy

I used to like read the liner notes on tbe back of record albums. Many of the names mentioned in this article and the movie appeared on the back of tthe my albums. Now I can put a face and a personality to the credits. Thanks for the movie

Joel Sanoff

This is the story about The Byrds as I heard in a 1988 interview with David Crosby. Columbia Records, wanting to rush Mr Tambourine Man out, wanted the Wrecking Crew to play the music, but allowed Jim McGuinn to play because of his ability on the 12-string guitar. The Byrds objected, and an agreement was made: they would let the Wrecking Crew play on Tambourine Man,but for the rest of their debut album they would get to do it themselves.

Tom

Although it has been well known for years that the Monkees didn’t have the musical ability to play their own music on their recordings from the 60’s, did the Byrd’s have the ability to record their own music on their singles and LP’s, ( Columbia label releases ), from the mid and late 60’s?

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