The Wrecking Crew makes Jeopardy! Alex Trebek and company picked the Crew to be a full category on a recent episode of the venerable game show. There is a killer story in my book about the last question in the category (the one that none of the contestants could answer).
Welcome to the official site for author Kent Hartman’s high-profile new book from St. Martin’s Press about the Wrecking Crew—the uncredited LA-based studio musicians who secretly played all the instruments on literally hundreds of famous Top 40 hit songs during the Sixties and early Seventies.
From the Beach Boys to Frank Sinatra, from Phil Spector’s legendary Wall of Sound to the Mamas & the Papas, the Byrds, Simon & Garfunkel, and far, far beyond, the Wrecking Crew saw it all… and played it all!
Here’s a fantastic, short video on Wrecking Crew bassist Carol Kaye, who was the only female in the whole bunch. She is a featured character in my book for a reason. A real pioneer, to say the least.
Don Peake (Wrecking Crew guitarist)
So talented is Wrecking Crew guitarist Don Peake that Ray Charles “borrowed” him for the better part of a year in the mid-Sixties, making Peake the only white musician in Charles’ incomparable band at that time. Peake went on to add his impeccably tight rhythm playing (and occasional arranging) behind the scenes for a multitude of stars such as Bobby Darin, the Righteous Brothers, Sonny & Cher, the Mamas & the Papas, the Beach Boys, the Monkees, the Jackson 5, and many others.
Don Peake will be appearing as Kent Hartman’s special guest at Book Soup on Sunset Blvd in West Hollywood at 7PM on Friday, March 2, 2012. For more information: http://www.booksoup.com/index.asp
Bones Howe (Wrecking Crew producer)
Lyle Ritz (Wrecking Crew bassist)
Today considered to be the world’s premier jazz ukulele player, Lyle Ritz actually started his professional life in the early Sixties as one of the most important electric and string bass players in the Los Angeles-based Wrecking Crew. Producing giants like Herb Alpert, Phil Spector, and Brian Wilson simply wouldn’t record without the services of the preternaturally gifted Ritz. Still ready to jam on his beloved ukulele, Lyle Ritz lives in semi-retirement in Portland, Oregon.
Top songs include: “A Taste of Honey” – Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass; “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” – Righteous Brothers; “I Got You Babe” – Sonny & Cher; “Good Vibrations” – Beach Boys.
Lyle Ritz will be appearing as Kent Hartman’s special guest at Powell’s City of Books in Portland, Oregon on Tuesday, March 13, 2012 at 7PM. For more information: http://www.powells.com
Hal Blaine, the Wrecking Crew’s drummer-in-chief, briefly talks about working with the brilliant yet troubled Phil Spector. There are several previously untold Spector/Wrecking Crew stories in my book.
“I’ve been in the music business for over forty years and I didn’t know any of this! The Wrecking Crew is a total page-turner. I couldn’t put it down. Kent Hartman is one gifted storyteller.”
Here is one-time Wrecking Crewer Glen Campbell playing “Wichita Lineman” live on The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour in 1969. Glen’s pals from his earlier days in the Wrecking Crew, including Carol Kaye, played all the instruments on the studio hit version.
It might have gone a bit under most people’s radar, but over the recent holiday season Sean Bonniwell, the lead singer and main songwriter of the band the Music Machine, passed away at the age of 71.
For anyone like me who goes back far enough or just digs Sixties-style proto-punk, the Music Machine’s 1966 (and only) Top 40 hit, “Talk, Talk,” is about as good as it gets. It had a real snarly, nasty sound. Two minutes of total ‘tude at a time when folk rock from Wrecking Crew-played efforts like “California Dreamin’,” “Eve of Destruction,” and “Mr. Tambourine Man” had become the message-song darlings of Top 40 radio.
The Music Machine also bucked the prevailing LA trend at the time by playing their own instruments. In fact, the bass player was Keith Olsen, who went on to work at Sound City Studios in Van Nuys (a Los Angeles suburb). Olsen engineered and produced dozens of gold and platinum albums there for the likes of Fleetwood Mac, Joe Walsh, Jefferson Starship, Pat Benatar, Eddie Money, and many others. All great stuff. But give me the in-your-face insolence of the Music Machine any day, ya know?
But, hey, what do you think? I’m curious—do any other bands come to mind from that era in LA that were also obvious garage rock pioneers???