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Denny Tedesco, Hal Blaine and Don Randi – Building Up the Wrecking Crew

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The Wrecking Crew

The Wrecking Crew

Denny Tedesco, Hal Blaine and Don Randi

Building Up the Wrecking Crew

by Jay S. Jacobs

The Wrecking Crew was the house band for an entire generation.  But chances are, you’ve never heard of them.

The Wrecking Crew was a loose collective of studio musicians who played on many of the biggest hits of the 1950s, 1960s, and early 1970s.  They provided backing for Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, The Beach Boys, Simon & Garfunkel, Nat King Cole, Sam Cooke, The Monkees, Phil Spector and many, many others.  Yet they rarely got credit for their work.

Some of the greatest musicians of the era gave The Wrecking Crew its exhilarating sound.  Among the mainstays of the group were guitarists Tommy Tedesco and Al Casey, drummer Hal Blaine, keyboard players Don Randi, Mike Melvoin and Al De Lory, bassists Carol Kaye and Joe Osborn,trumpeter Chuck Findlay and a rotating group of other players.  Only guitarist Glen Campbell (and to a lesser extent keyboard player Leon Russell) used their time in The Wrecking Crew as a trampoline to stardom as a headlining act.

However, a new documentary called The Wrecking Crew is looking to remedy this.  It was a labor of love for director Denny Tedesco, son of late Wrecking Crew axe man Tommy Tedesco.  Denny originally started work on the film back in the mid-1990s, soon after his dad was diagnosed with lung cancer.  Denny Tedesco got his dad and a few of his old Wrecking Crew buddies to sit down and have a summit discussing their amazing musical careers and accomplishments.

Nearly 20 years later that footage has been supplemented and expanded.  The story deepened with lots of additional footage, interviews with members of the Wrecking Crew, as well as comments from the headline artists whose songs the musicians transformed into the soundtrack of baby boomer life.

A few days before The Wrecking Crew was about to get a national release, we got a chance to chat with Wrecking Crew mainstays Hal Blaine and Don Randi and documentary director Denny Tedesco.

You performed on many of the biggest hits of over a decade.  What was it like when you would be listening to the radio and many of the songs that came on you had worked on?

Don Randi: I loved it.  I still love it.  We have a station out here, K-Earth 101 and I turn it on every once in a while when I’m not listening to the jazz station.  Two weeks ago, they played five in a row.  (laughs) I was like, how many guys can say that? And every one was different. Everyone was such a different style of how I could play.  It was so much fun hearing it there.

Hal Blaine: It makes you feel great, of course.  Most drummers are gigantic egomaniacs, so when you hear yourself and you’ve done a good job and you’ve got a gold record, or a platinum record, or just great reviews, it really makes you feel good.  It really does make you feel good.  It’s pretty exciting when those things happen.

Denny, when you were growing up, were you aware of how important and ubiquitous  your father’s work was in pop music?

Denny Tedesco: Not at all. Dad went to work.  I was born in ‘61, so I was too young for the Beach Boys stuff and what’s going on.  But music was being played.  I never realized what dad was doing, because dad just went to work like any other dad. My friend across the street, his father was a carpenter.  His dad had a saw, a drill, a hammer and all that stuff in the trunk.  My dad had a classical guitar, a 12-string, a Telecaster, a banjo, a mandolin and an amplifier.  That’s what he went to work with.  I didn’t see my dad play the guitar until the 70s, when he started playing at home for his own enjoyment.

Having done so many classic songs, were there any sessions that really stood out to you as exceptional?

Hal Blaine: When they took me to England to record with Richard Harris on “MacArthur Park,” with Jimmy Webb, who wrote the song.  Long story and I won’t go into it – but it turned out that they had me come to England and they gave me a ten-day vacation.  At the time my wife left me a widower, she had passed away and I had a girl to raise.  I was glad they felt wonderful for me, but sad.  They brought me to England to record, and it turned out to be ten days of a party, paid.  I just had an incredible time.  We came back to Hollywood and we did “MacArthur Park,” among the other songs, too [on Harris’ A Tramp Shining album].  It’s an amazing record.  I forget how many minutes the song was.  Generally you had three minutes and 15 or 20 seconds per record.  In this case, it was something like eight or nine.  [ed. note: It was seven minutes and 26 seconds.]  It was perfect for disk jockeys who in those days actually did needle drop.  That was before computers, etc., where they pushed a button.  They actually dropped the needle on the record.  That led to a lot of interviews in the help of my career. That’s how I made my name.

Don Randi: Well, always working for the Beach Boys.  ”Good Vibrations,” the Pet Sounds album, that’s outstanding.  Working for Phil Spector.  We did 21 million-selling records in a row, for all of those [Wall of Sound] artists.  Then working for a lot of the label producers, like Jimmy Bowen, Lee Hazelwood, Dick Lasser.  Loads of them.  Everybody was good at what they were doing, because they were making hit records. They would hire The Wall of Sound or The Wrecking Crew.  For me it’s still ongoing, because I still work all the time, still play.  Thank God.

Denny, did your dad tell you of any?

Denny Tedesco: What he would want to be remembered for is one thing.  Sessions that he always loved were something like Elvis, because they treated him well.  Elvis catered it.  If my dad had something to play, he liked it when he had something to play that wasn’t just chunka-chunka-chunka.   When he got to let loose.  They asked him what would you want to be remembered for.  He said: Listen, any one of those guys, any one of those 10 or 12 guitar players that we sat next to over the years, they could do any of those songs.  ”Bonanza” or “Batman” or “Green Acres” or whatever it was. Any of the Beach Boys stuff.  All that stuff.  It wasn’t about that.  He said, “I want to be remembered for my film work.”  In the 70s and late 80s, when you’ve got John Williams saying, “Hold the first two weeks Tommy in September, I’ve got a movie coming up called The River and it’s all guitar,” that’s when you know you’re being called because you are Tommy Tedesco. You’re not a guitar player. That’s when you know you’ve hit it in your art.

Of all of the amazing musicians of the Wrecking Crew, only Glen Campbell really made the transition to stardom as a headlining act. Are you surprised not more of the Wrecking Crew made that leap?

Denny Tedesco: Well, Leon Russell as well.  It’s funny because someone asked that recently.  It’s a good question.  Someone asked, “Were they upset that they weren’t stars?”  But the thing is, they were stars.  People don’t realize, when they went to work, they were stars to the artists.  When Brian Wilson is sitting in the room, don’t forget, Brian is maybe 20 and my dad is 30 at this point, these guys are basically heroes to some of these other musicians that are coming in.

Hal Blaine: Not surprised at all. We were very happy for those guys, because we were all settled on making the kind of bucks that we were making. We were making a ton of money. That’s all there was to it.  We were very happy with that.  But we were thrilled with Glen, because he was part of our Wrecking Crew.  Leon Russell was a part of our Wrecking Crew.  Of course you’d never recognize him if you’ve seen Leon lately, you’d never know it was the same Leon.

Don Randi: Well, for me, I have over 21 albums over the years.  Don Randi & Quest, the Don Randi Trio.  I always managed to record and some of them were very successful.  I had one hit record, years ago, called “Mexican Pearls,” which went to the top 40 [in 1965].  Then I got covered by Billy Vaughn and he went to number 1. But fortunately, I wrote the song, so I came out pretty good on it.  But those things never bothered me.  More power to you.  If you can do it, why not?

Denny Tedesco: [The bands] are watching these guys lay down the parts, going, “Oh, my God!  We could never do that that quickly.”  It was about let’s lay it down, let’s get it out, let’s get a hit, let’s get the guys on the road and promote this album. Sometimes it’s just singers. Singers were just thrilled to have these guys there.  The tour bands, they may be a group, but they are not going to take a chance with a tour band.  They need guys that can get in and get out in three hours.

Don Randi: Listen, one of the best songs you’ll never hear was recorded by Glen Campbell.  He sang the demo on a song, I forget the title, (sings) “Here I go again, she’s back in town again.  I’ll be the clown again one more time.”  (ed. note: It was called “Here We Go Again.”)  Don Lanier and Red Steagall wrote that.  We did a demo of it and Glen Campbell sang the demo.  The demo was incredible.  (laughs)  Then, of course, a number of people got number one records with that, including Ray Charles.  Then Ray Charles and Norah Jones did it again years later as a duo and sold a couple of million copies again.

Hal Blaine: Glen Campbell, we just did his last – unfortunately – recording.  We got the Grammy for it.

Don Randi: Two years ago we were at a show out here and they had a call for Hal Blaine, Don Randi and Joe Osborn. We had to go into the studio and record the punchy number one record of this last year, called “I’m Not Going to Miss You” by Glen Campbell.  It was up for an Academy Award.  [Ed. note: For Best Original Song from the Glen Campbell documentary I’ll Be Me.]

That’s right.  Should have won it, as far as I’m concerned.

Don Randi: Me, too.  Me too.  So here you go.  Here we are, how many years later?

Hal Blaine: In fact, we’re going in to the Grammys tonight for a film screening.  We’re all in downtown LA near the Grammy museum.  This is the kick off week for the premieres.  On the 13th The Wrecking Crew movie is premiering in Hollywood.  Limos, the whole bit.  It’s going to be absolutely incredible.  Everyone who has seen the movie is nuts about the movie.  They love it.  It’s a thrill for me to be just even a little part of it.

This film has been in the works for almost two decades now.  You originally started it soon after you found out Tommy was sick in the mid 90s. How does it feel that it is finally making it out and getting a widespread release?  I saw there was a limited release in 2008.

Denny Tedesco: Well, we did the festivals in 2008.  When we did the festivals, I thought, oh, this is it.  The film we had is a little different than what we have now, but we thought: Wow, we’re out.  We’re going to do it in 2008.  And then, nothing happened.  The reviews were off the charts, the reactions from audiences were killer.  I kept thinking this is going to be amazing. But no one would touch it, because we always had a back end and knew we had to raise the money for the labels and the publishers.  As well as the musicians union, as well as photos and stock footage.  I thought the success would have led us into someone going, “Oh, let’s just pick this up.  We could take care of this.”  But the reality was it’s not going to happen when it is a documentary. It’s just not going to make its money. There was an article in 2009 that talked about how director Martin Scorsese was struggling with his musical doc [Shine a Light] on The Stones. [Jonathan] Demme was struggling with his doc [Trunk Show] with Neil Young. They talked about director Denny Tedesco with hisWrecking Crew doc, and I went: Oh, my God!  They called me a director.  Oh, my God! I’m on the same page [as Scorsese and Demme].  (laughs)  Who cares if it’s negative.  I don’t care.

Don Randi: I think it’s fantastic. It just shows that with a little diligence and not giving up, you can [do anything].  You’ve got to keep doing it.  He could have walked away from this a number of times, but he didn’t.  That’s why we’re so gung ho for Denny and for the project.  The whole project is amazing.  Imagine the sacrifices they had to make to get this done.  So, what can I say?  I’m proud of them and I’m proud of all of us for hanging in there.

Hal Blaine: It’s great fun. I think everyone really should see this movie.  They’re going to wake up to reality, so to speak.  It was just the golden era of recording.  We got to work with everybody from symphonies to the lowest of the rock and roll records.  They were all hits.

Was it fun to get back together with everyone to make the film?

Hal Blaine: Absolutely. Absolutely.  And of course, Denny the director, I’ve known him since he was born. One of my jokes is I’ve got drumsticks older than you.  (laughs)

Beyond the movie, you are also working in conjunction with Ken Sharp’s new Wrecking Crew book Sound Explosion, which is also a terrific look at these same musicians.

Hal Blaine: Great book.  Just saw it for the first time myself. Beautiful book.

Denny Tedesco: The book is amazing. I’m just thrilled.  The timing is perfect.

How did it feel to see the movie the first time?

Hal Blaine: The first time I saw parts of it, I broke down crying.  I was being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame when that was happening.  In fact, somebody brought that up today.  I just cried like a baby, because Tommy was such a sweet guy and to me it was a memorial to [Denny’s] dad, the greatest guitarist in the world and a good friend. Just a terrific, terrific guy, terrific people.

I remember reading a great quote attributed to Tommy a while back about the stages of a musician’s career. “Who’s Tommy Tedesco? Get me Tommy Tedesco. Get me a young Tommy Tedesco. Who’s Tommy Tedesco?”  Do you think that pretty much sums up the world of studio musicians?

Hal Blaine: (laughs)  Absolutely. Absolutely.  You’ve seen the movie?

I have.

Hal Blaine: Well, you saw Tommy doing his bit.  That was exactly Tommy.  He was fantastic.  The feeling that he had and the stories that he could tell, he was a beautiful man. One of those things.  He was a terrific guy.  We used to work every day together and it was such great fun.  I can’t tell you how much fun it was.

Denny Tedesco: (laughs)  It sounds like he would have said it.  I’ve heard that before.  I’ve heard it with everybody.  (laughs again)  But it is true.

Don Randi: Yeah, he did. Everybody else walked in his shadow. (laughs)  Not only was he a musician, an incredible guitarist, but he was… as I like to say, he was a true mensch.   [Ed. note: Yiddish for “person of integrity and honor.”]  Good guy. Good guy.  And helpful to everybody.  Helpful to new young guitar players.  He helped a lot of guys get into the studios and get working.  If he was a schmuck he would have said, “Nah, screw you.  I don’t want any part of it.”  That wasn’t his style.

Denny Tedesco: The biggest moment in the film for me that mean so much to me have nothing to do with music, that anybody can relate to, is when I asked [producer] Bones Howe: You guys are at the top of the world, you are the A-Team, and then you’re not.  How do you deal with that?  He says, “You’ve got your ramp up.  You’re at the top of the ramp.  Then you’ve got your ramp down.  It’s not about staying on the top, take the ramp down as long as possible.”

I wrote a biography of Tom Waits and I interviewed Bones Howe extensively for it.  At one point he said to me he was at the weird point in his career that people wanted to interview him about his work more than to have him actually do the work.

Denny Tedesco: Right. Yeah.  Yeah, it’s true….  Recently Marc Maron, the comedian and podcaster, he gave me the words for it. He told me, “Yeah, of course. We all want to be relevant.” I went, oh, yeah, that’s it.  It’s no different.  My mom is 83.  She doesn’t work.  She still wants to be relevant at this point in her life.  We all want to be relevant.

Hal Blaine: Meanwhile, I’m sitting here in the back of the Pro Drum Shop, greatest drum shop in the world, in Hollywood, and if you hear a bunch of noise going on there is a lot of customers out there buying drums and cymbals and stuff.  So that’s kind of fun, yeah.  The gals here have just been terrific.  Where are you exactly?

I’m in Philadelphia.

Hal Blaine: Oh, Philly.  I can’t tell you how many records I did with so many of those guys.  The Bobbys and the Johnnies and the… I can’t think of all their names, now. They were all Philadelphia guys.  I think Frankie Avalon might have been one.

Frankie Avalon was a Philly guy, and Fabian Forte, and Bobby Rydell.

Hal Blaine: Bobby, I did Bobby. I was doing all those Bobbys and Rickys and Frankies.  It was amazing times.  I happened to be working with at the time, it was one of those flukes, my real inception or induction into rock and roll would have to be with a young man by the name of Tommy Sands [an actor and singer probably best known for Babes in Toyland, as well as being Nancy Sinatra’s first husband] back in the 50s.  Tommy was close to all those guys.  Tommy working in movies, television, etc., and that automatically threw me in with all those guys.  I was just looking at a great picture of Bobby Rydell that I had found in an old photo album.  I was a shutterbug.  I took a lot of pictures.  I’ve been a very, very lucky guy.

Don, you’ve been working with Nancy Sinatra for years.  In fact, during the movie, you did a good amount of your interview with her.  How has your working relationship been with her over the years?

Don Randi: Well, I had to punch her out a couple of days ago, but other than that… (laughs)  She is the best.  She is the best artist to work with.  Always has been.  She’s the most wonderful person, when it comes to musicians.  Musicians come first.  ”Is everything okay?”  Hal used to come out and be one of the musicians in our big orchestra, when Billy Strange was conducting, and then when I took over.  When I became her musical director.  Hal didn’t really want to go out anymore.  I always had great drummers in my band, so she said, “I’ll make you a deal.”  She would take my whole band out as the rhythm section, so that when we rehearsed, we didn’t have to worry about getting the studio guys.  It was all of my guys.  On occasion we’d go back and use them every once in a while, but most of the touring bands were always my bands.

They are doing so much celebration for her father’s centennial.  What was he like to work with?

Don Randi: He was the best. He treated me very well because he knew how close we were.  I was, if anything, overly protective of her.  I looked out for her, and Frankie Jr., too.  Sometimes we were all together, so it was fun.

Are you helping her do any of the tributes for his 100th birthday?

Don Randi: A couple of them. But mostly, you’ve got to remember, next year is the 50th anniversary of “These Boots Are Made For Walking.” I think next year she may be out doing quite a lot.  You’ve got to remember, she’s an older person now.  She just had some knee surgeries.  She doesn’t really want to run onstage with “These Boots Are Made For Walking.”  (laughs)  But she’s going to have to and she’s going to do something next year.

I know the nickname “The Wrecking Crew” came about sort of after the fact, but how did that come about?

Denny Tedesco: Hal used to always tell the story about how in those days – in the early 60s – when they were doing cash dates, my dad and Hal and Carol [Kaye] and Don Randi and Joe Osborn, when those guys were beginning, the early days, they were doing dates that the older guys, the more established guys, don’t want to do.

Hal Blaine: The reason it happened was, I used to work as an actor and I was working for Walt Disney.  I was on a movie.  I was doing bit parts for Walt on his motion pictures.  At one point, this was the late 50s, early 60s, rock and roll was becoming prevalent.  It was considered filthy, nasty, terrible music.  The real studio guys refused to play it.  Drummers like Shelly Manne, the great Shelly, these people refused.

Denny Tedesco: They were doing demos.  Demos were lower budget, or they were illegal in the union.  The older guys, they’re not going to take a chance on getting busted for that, so these younger guys were: “Hey, I’ve got to work.  I’ve got to eat.  I’m going to do that.”  Some of those demos became hits.  Those demos became records, the masters.

Hal Blaine: Within weeks, they were calling me.  Shelly would call me and say, “Hal, what is it you’re doing that is so popular?” I said, Shelly, it’s just a backbeat on two and four.  That’s all it is.  It’s either straight eights with two and four or a shuffle type with two and four backbeats. And he understood.  A lot of the guys did.  But a lot of the old-timers that did all the great, historic saga movies that were done at 20th [Century Fox] and MGM and all of those great musicals, those guys would look at us because a lot of times they were around while we were playing, and we were in Levis and t-shirts and they were in three-piece suits or blue blazer jackets.

Hal was just telling me that a lot of the older players, like his good friend Shelly Manne, refused to play rock.

Don Randi: No, they didn’t. As a matter of fact, we did a gig for Buddy Rich’s daughter.  I’ll bet Hal didn’t even mention that.  But Buddy hired Hal (laughs) to come in and do the rock, because he knew he couldn’t do it, which I thought was really great, you know? How often is that going to happen?

Denny Tedesco: The older guys started saying, “Well, these guys are going to wreck the business playing this rock and roll.”  So Hal coined the term years later.

Hal Blaine: I would overhear them saying, “These kids are going to wreck the business.”  We were kids in 1957, ‘58.  So I called my secretary and said, “If we’re going to book a date, start calling us The Wrecking Crew.”  So you didn’t have to look up names.

Different sources list different amounts of members.  Who were the main players of the Wrecking Crew?

Hal Blaine: There was six or seven of us, eight of us.  Tommy Tedesco, the great guitarist.  Glen Campbell.  Leon Russell. Jimmy Bond, the great bass player. Lyle Ritz, the great bass player. It was just a nucleus of about five, six, seven of us.  Once in a while we would augment, if someone hired The Wrecking Crew, they would augment with a string section or a brass section.  That was a different thing, because once we started getting popular, and famous, so to speak, everybody came out of the woodwork.  Calling me, saying, “Hey, I thought I was part of the Wrecking Crew.”  I said, well, you were, but this is on a movie that we did and we called you guys in, or a TV theme, or something.

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The Wrecking Crew was able to play pretty much any style of music – rock, pop, jazz, country, R&B – and make it their own.   Why do you feel musicians these days don’t tend to experiment in different musical genres?

Denny Tedesco: That’s a really good question.  Here’s the thing, there are two things about that question that I would have asked my father.  I asked him once: What’s the difference between a studio player like yourself or a specialist?  He said, “A studio player, there’s a door there, we don’t know what’s behind the door when we walk in.  We walk in and we have our instruments.  I might have to play classical.  I might have to read.  I might have to play mandolin.  I might have to play banjo.”  He said you can’t just sit there and say send me the blues thing.  If you want the blues guy, you’d get BB King.  But you can’t expect BB King to read the music or you can’t expect BB King to jump on to classical.  And you can’t expect [classical guitarist Andrés] Segovia to play blues at the last minute.

Don Randi: Part of it is a lot of us were great country kickers, like Glen Campbell and James Burton and those guys.  The most of the rest of us were all improvising jazz players.  We all came from improvisational forms of music, so for me it was very easy to adapt to the rock and roll.  And I liked it.  I didn’t pooh-pooh it at all.  It was a great living for me.  God knows I wasn’t making any money playing bebop.  Although, when all the guys were still in the studios, I kept working in nightclubs.  I never stopped.

Denny Tedesco: That’s why [it was] these guys.  My father would go in, they would all go in, and come up with things that fit what they needed.  Another reason is in those days, they listened to all types of music.  Jimmy Webb had the greatest line.  He said, “Nowadays, music on the radio is segregated.”  If you want to listen to pop or rock, you listen to that.  If you want to listen to rap, you listen to that.  If you want to hear country, you listen to that.  He said, “In those days, we only had three stations.  You could hear rock, jazz and country all on one.”  There were just three stations or two stations where he was growing up.  So you kind of had to influence each other.

People have known for years that studio musicians did the music for bands like The Monkees and The Partridge Family, but may have been more surprised to hear you were behind things like the Beach Boys, some of the Byrds and Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass. What songs do people tend to be most surprised to know you played on?

Don Randi: “ABC.”  (laughs) I had little Michael [Jackson] coming over and saying, “Mr. Landi, how did you play that?”  (laughs hard)  The Jackson Five, what can I say?

Hal Blaine: I still laugh, I turn on the television and here’s Three’s Company. Some of the greatest drumming I ever did, because I was not that kind of a drummer. I was never a soloist.  I was an accompanist.  But when you listen to “Three’s Company,” and each year, we would redo it, when Mr. [Joe] Raposo came from New York, the writer and producer, and each year he’d say, “Hal, more.  This year I want you to play more.  Play more drums.  Play more. Play more.”  Until it almost became the Hal Blaine soundtrack.  If you listen to that today, you’ll hear my invention, which was the Octoplus, the Ludwig drums that I designed, where I went from a four or five piece set of drums to now I had twelve pieces.  I had an octave of drums.  If you ever listen to the Carpenters, you’ll hear the fill kind of things I did with those kind of drums.  It was amazing timing.  Everybody pretty soon heard about this.  They saw them.  I introduced them on a Ed Sullivan special.  Every drum company in the world started making those drums.

Don Randi: And then the more classical ones want to know about the harpsichord solo.  The sound of a “Different Drum” with the Stone Poneys with Linda Ronstadt.  That’s my harpsichord in that.

That’s amazing.  I love the sound of a harpsichord.  I wish more musicians would still use it.

Don Randi: You know what?  Some of the producers would use it in conjunction with the mixing it in with guitars.  It gave them a fuller sound.  Especially if you put a 12-string and a harpsichord together, you think you have 9,000 guys playing.  (laughs)  Now they have the electronic.  You get close to it with the electronic gear, but it’s not the same.  It’s not the same.  Same thing with the acoustic piano.  It’s still not the same.  They are close, but it’s not the same.

There was so much classic music in the film – was that hard to license?  Were there any songs you wished you could get but couldn’t?

Denny Tedesco: No.  No, it’s funny.  We have 110 songs in the movie.  Not one song did we get turned down by.  Not one song.  It wasn’t about struggling to get the songs, it was you’ve got to pay for it.  Even with the fact that the labels and the publishers, they all worked in helping out, they all came in as most favored nations, which means there is a certain rate that everybody gets, no matter what it is. Everybody agreed on it.  It was the only way to do it.  You couldn’t be breaking down, like this song gets this and this song gets….  We’d have been another 20 years.  So that was the way they did it.  They all came together.  You’d just deal with them and plead your case.  110 songs.  I didn’t get one turned down.

Between the movie and Ken Sharp’s new book and Don’s upcoming book, do you think that the members of the Wrecking Crew will finally get their due as the musical innovators that they were?

Don Randi: I think so.  Every little bit helps.  I was just talking on another interview before that when you are picked as the subject for Jeopardy, one of the categories was “The Wrecking Crew.”  (laughs) So people are aware.  Mostly in the business.  People in the business are aware.  Now it’s starting to get out with all the younger people.  It’s amazing when I’ll  do a seminar, or I’ll go someplace and we’re doing the Q&A after the film, the younger kids are more interested in the Beach Boys now than most of the other artists.  I think originally, when the Beach Boys first started, had these younger musicians been able to emulate them more, they would have been even more popular than they are now. (chuckles)  They were a little hard to emulate.  The doo wops were simple.  Some of those other singing groups were pretty basic harmonies.  But the Beach Boys were a little complicated.

When you were working with Brian Wilson, did you know you were with a special talent?

Don Randi: Oh yes, absolutely. I loved it.  I loved him.  I still do. I’ll see him every once in a while. On occasion we’ll be in the same studio or something and we always have a good time.

There were so many songs that members of the Wrecking Crew played on that the labels didn’t give them credit because they didn’t want it to look like these same musicians were on nearly every record being made.  After all this time, though, do you think that maybe someday they will be credited for all of the music they did?

Denny Tedesco: Yeah, absolutely. We’re doing it right now.  We’re helping with that.  We’re actually releasing a soundtrack album, which is on Pledge Music right now.  http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/thewreckingcrew  We’ll have three CDs filled with hits.  Some of that, what we’re doing is taking all of those songs and putting the contracts from the AFM [American Federation of Musicians] to it.  So they are going to get the credit.  At the end of the film, when you see all those names, we give credits to string players.  All of those names are coming off of contracts, if we could ever find the contracts.

Hal Blaine: There were certain record companies that did give us credit.  But there were others that didn’t.  It wasn’t that they didn’t want to.  Some people thought maybe it was going to hurt the artists that we were recording. When we were doing a Gary Lewis & the Playboys, they never played on their own records.  But certain record companies maybe thought we better not say anything or we’re going to burst the bubble.  So that’s the story.  I wish I knew what to tell you, Jay.

Denny Tedesco: Some of it was, yes, conspiracy, if you want to call it conspiracy.  Or you want to call it just business.  They’re not going to put the names of these guys on Pet Sounds, because the Beach Boys are still playing at that point. Sometimes if it was instrumental groups….  But, you know, I don’t think it was a conspiracy at all.  I think now it’s not a big deal [to give the proper credit]. Then it might have been, “We don’t want everybody knowing.”    

Don Randi: (laughs)  Well, I think the movie helps us out quite a lot.  In my book You’ve Heard These Hands, which will be out September 1st, I really give a lot of other stories you can’t do in the film in 90 minutes.  Incidentally, the outtakes on the DVD version of this thing, if you get it, the outtakes are hilariously and honestly very well done.  Very well done.  They’re great.  They’re really good.

Hal Blaine: For me it was just the most incredible time.  It was just an incredible time.  I’m losing my voice.  (laughs)  We’ve been talking since 11:00 this morning.  Been talking with people all over the country.  Unbelievable. Give my best regards to Philly.  Tell everybody to see the film.  It’s great.

For more information and to purchase The Wrecking Crew movie, theSound Explosion book and more, visit http://www.wreckingcrewfilm.com/

Copyright ©2015 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: March 13, 2015.

Photos ©2015.  Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures. All rights reserved.

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