I want to see this......

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  1. Shithead

    Shithead Well-Known Member

    Jan 16, 2012
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    The unknown super group behind rock-n-roll’s most iconic albums
    By Larry Getlen

    March 7, 2015 | 10:24pm

    Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Hal Blaine has played on more hits than any drummer in rock history, including 40 No. 1 songs and 150 more that cracked the Top 10. Having worked with so many stars, he’s seen some of the greats at their weirdest.

    Talking to The Post about “The Wrecking Crew,” a documentary opening Friday about a group of musicians, including himself, who powered an unreal number of hits, he recalls watching Elvis Presley’s clique of hangers-on in obsequious action.

    “Elvis was like a demigod. These guys bowed to him. He was paying all their bills,” says Blaine, who played on Presley hits such as “Can’t Help Falling in Love.”

    “In the middle of a rehearsal, if Elvis said, ‘I’m a little bit thirsty now,’ 15 guys would run at him with bottles of Coke. They’d fall over each other and knock over microphones to be the one to hand him the soda. It was an amazing thing to see.”

    The Wrecking Crew was a loosely defined group of musicians — depending on whom you ask, anywhere from 15 to 30 — who dominated rock ’n’ roll in the late ’50s, ’60s and early ’70s.

    They played on most of the Beach Boys’ discography in that era as well as six consecutive Record of the Year Grammy winners, from 1966 to 1971.

    Their hit list includes “California Dreamin’,” “Mrs. Robinson,” “I Got You Babe,” “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’,” “Viva Las Vegas,” “Surf City,” “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In,” “Mr. Tambourine Man” and many, many more.

    But for the most part, the musicians’ names remain unknown to anyone outside the music business.

    In the film, the late Dick Clark says that the musicians in the Wrecking Crew never had their names on the albums they played on because they played on so many, “it would have been an embarrassment.”

    It wasn’t uncommon for the group to record over 20 sessions in one week.

    Blaine notes that when he played sessions in the ’50s, the scene was dominated by classically trained musicians who despised the youth-driven music known as rock ’n’ roll.

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    Beatles’ George Harrison and The Wrecking Crew member Joe Osborn
    Magnolia Pictures

    “An awful lot of the elder musicians refused to play this new genre,” says Blaine. “It was dirty, filthy, nasty, was gonna last about a week [they said]. And we were guys that said, ‘We’ll play anything, as long as they’re paying us well.’ ”

    As rock ’n’ roll became the sound of the culture, infiltrating everything from popular radio to TV commercials, musicians like Blaine, drummer Earl Palmer, guitarist Tommy Tedesco and bassist Carol Kaye found themselves in heavy demand.

    Of course, if the Wrecking Crew played on so many famous songs, it meant that the musicians in the actual bands didn’t.

    In the film, the Byrds’ Roger McGuinn recalls how, as a former studio musician himself, his band’s producer allowed him to play on the recording of “Mr. Tambourine Man,” but the rest of the Byrds, including David Crosby, were not.

    ‘What was magical about them [The Wrecking Crew] was I could say, ‘Here’s what I want, here’s what I hear,’ and…they could do what you imagined in your head.’

    - Righteous Brothers’ Bill Medley
    The band members were “livid,” he recalled, when the Wrecking Crew took their place, though maybe less so when the song went to No. 1.

    “[The Wrecking Crew and I] knocked out two tracks in one three-hour session,” McGuinn said. “When the rest of the band got to play, it took us 77 takes to get the…track for ‘Turn! Turn! Turn!’ ”

    Blaine worked with Phil Spector for over 30 years, and estimates he played on 99 percent of the producer’s hits from the Wall of Sound period (including “He’s a Rebel” and “Be My Baby”).

    He calls Spector a “sweetheart,” and says he never saw violent signs in the man currently in prison for the 2003 shooting death of actress Lana Clarkson.

    “We all know it was an accident,” he says. “I never, ever saw a gun [with Phil]. I never saw the lunacy that people talk about.”

    He even played on Spector’s sessions with John Lennon for the “Rock ’n’ Roll” album, recorded while Lennon was separated from Yoko Ono. Blaine says he saw the sordid side of the legend, who was then in a heavy drinking phase.

    “John, unfortunately, was drinking himself to death,” says Blaine. “Halfway through [the sessions], he really got nasty.”

    Blaine watched as the president of Warner Bros. Records dropped in to the studio with his wife to say hello. Lennon, sloshed, was not pleased.

    “John Lennon was drunk, and he read them the riot act,” says Blaine. “[He] was screaming at them, ‘I haven’t signed your bloody contract yet! Get out of here!’”

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    Director Denny Tedesco with his father Tommy Tedesco, who was a member of The Wrecking Crew.Photo: Magnolia Pictures

    The Wrecking Crew’s dominance shrunk gradually from the mid-’70s to the mid-’80s, as new, electronic forms of recording made their particular talents less in demand.

    Some of the members have struggled since. Some have passed on; others are still making hits.

    Former Wrecking Crew member Glen Campbell’s “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” won a Grammy last month for Best Country Song.

    On the recording are Blaine, pianist Don Randi and bassist Joe Osborn, all of whom dealt with the mixed feelings of recording with their friend Campbell while also watching him suffer from Alzheimer’s.

    “We weren’t sure that he knew where he was or what he was doing,” says Blaine, who first played with Campbell in the late-’50s. “He played guitar beautifully. I’m told that at the home he’s in in Nashville for Alzheimer’s patients, he plays and sings songs for the patients. They don’t know who he is, and he doesn’t know who they are.”

    Whatever sadness they felt, though, didn’t stop the Wrecking Crew from laying down a Grammy-winning song. It’s this level of talent that secures their exalted place in the history of rock ’n’ roll.

    “What was magical about them was I could say, ‘Here’s what I want, here’s what I hear,’ and…they could do what you imagined in your head,” says the Righteous Brothers’ Bill Medley. “That’s the magic of the Wrecking Crew.”
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