By John Rowlands
Beverly Hills, CA (Hollywood Today)2/11/13/–IT’S BEEN MORE THAN 50 years since he recorded his first No. 1 hit—Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” Session drummer Hal Blaine went on to appear on 38 additional hit records, including the Byrds’ “Mr. Tambourine Man,” the Mamas & the Papas’ “Monday, Monday,” Simon & Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” and the Carpenters’ “(They Long to Be) Close to You.”
GOLD RECORDS for those hits represent a fraction of his 60+ years of drumming. Hal’s beats set hips twisting on upward of 10,000 songs—many of them achieved GOLD and PLATINUM sales status and became chart topping hits! He even was the drummer on the Grammys’ “Song of the Year” for seven years in a row from 1966 to 1972. In this regard, Hal Blaine has no living peer. On Billboard’s Hot 100 chart, his nearest rival is the Beatles with a measly 20 No. 1 hits.
Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000, Hal remains largely unknown today. Which raises two questions: Why were studio musicians even needed back then, and why weren’t teens aware of their contribution at the time?
They were the studio musicians behind some of the biggest hits in the 1960s and ’70s.
From “Be My Baby” to “California Girls;” “Strangers in the Night” to “Mrs. Robinson;” “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feelin’” to “Up, Up and Away;” and from “Viva Las Vegas” to “Mr. Tambourine Man,” the group dubbed The Wrecking Crew played on all of them. Seven years in a row in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Grammy for “Record of the Year” went to Wrecking Crew member recordings.
“The Wrecking Crew,” a documentary film produced and directed by Denny Tedesco, son of legendary late Wrecking Crew guitarist Tommy Tedesco, has played around the world in the festival circuit with over a dozen awards and rave reviews and other accolades.
Exclusive Interview with Hal Blaine
The film includes wonderful interviews with Brian Wilson, Cher, Nancy Sinatra, Herb Alpert, Glen Campbell, Roger McGuinn, Gary Lewis, Dick Clark, Al Jardine, Peter Tork, Micky Dolenz as well as many of the Crew members themselves.
A labor of love by director Tedesco, the film is also ultimately a love letter to the legacy of his late father and musician friends in the Crew. Documenting the work of musicians on such iconic songs, however, can be cost — and distribution — prohibitive. According to the American Federation of Musicians, the film may one of the largest soundtracks of any film in history, with 131 music cues. With songs by Frank Sinatra, Nancy Sinatra, The Monkees, The Byrds, Mamas and Papas, Sonny and Cher, The Beach Boys and dozens of others, the cost of licensing the music for the film is estimated at more than $300,000.
With the help of social media and donations, the film has made great progress making the release a reality where other films of this nature never make it to the public.
Photography/Writer: John Rowlands