Winner of the Oregon Book Award for General Nonfiction and Los Angeles Times bestseller
"It makes good music sound better."-Janet Maslin in The New York Times
"A fascinating look into the West Coast recording studio scene of the '60s and the inside story of the music you heard on the radio. If you always assumed the musicians you listened to were the same people you saw onstage, you are in for a big surprise!"-Dusty Street, host of Classic Vinyl on Sirius XM Satellite Radio
If you were a fan of popular music in the 1960s and early '70s, you were a fan of the Wrecking Crew-whether you knew it or not.
On hit record after hit record by everyone from the Byrds, the Beach Boys, and the Monkees to the Grass Roots, the 5th Dimension, Sonny & Cher, and Simon & Garfunkel, this collection of West Coast studio musicians from diverse backgrounds established themselves in Los Angeles, California as the driving sound of pop music-sometimes over the objection of actual band members forced to make way for Wrecking Crew members. Industry insider Kent Hartman tells the dramatic, definitive story of the musicians who forged a reputation throughout the business as the secret weapons behind the top recording stars.
Mining invaluable interviews, the author follows the careers of such session masters as drummer Hal Blaine and keyboardist Larry Knechtel, as well as trailblazing bassist Carol Kaye-the only female in the bunch-who went on to play in thousands of recording sessions in this rock history. Readers will discover the Wrecking Crew members who would forge careers in their own right, including Glen Campbell and Leon Russell, and learn of the relationship between the Crew and such legends as Phil Spector and Jimmy Webb. Hartman also takes us inside the studio for the legendary sessions that gave us Pet Sounds, Bridge Over Troubled Water, and the rock classic "Layla," which Wrecking Crew drummer Jim Gordon cowrote with Eric Clapton for Derek and the Dominos. And the author recounts priceless scenes such as Mike Nesmith of the Monkees facing off with studio head Don Kirshner, Grass Roots lead guitarist (and future star of The Office) Creed Bratton getting fired from the group, and Michel Rubini unseating Frank Sinatra's pianist for the session in which the iconic singer improvised the hit-making ending to "Strangers in the Night."
The Wrecking Crew tells the collective, behind-the-scenes stories of the artists who dominated Top 40 radio during the most exciting time in American popular culture.
From 1962 to 1975, one group of studio players, the Wrecking Crew, provided the tracks for records as various as He s a Rebel, Surfer Girl, California Dreamin , MacArthur Park, Classical Gas, and Bridge over Troubled Water. Industry insider Hartman opens our eyes to this fascinating group of musicians, tracing the careers of three members of this group Glen Campbell, Carol Smith, Hal Blaine who shared little more than an innate inner drive, musical talent, and a work ethic shaped by grinding poverty. Campbell, for example, lit out on the road when he was 13 to play guitar. Eight years later, Campbell joined the Champs, whose Limbo Rock Chubby Checker would soon record as The Twist. In 1962, Phil Spector gathered Campbell, Smith, Blaine, Billy Strange, Bill Pitman, and seven other highly skilled session musicians to lay down the tracks for Zip-a-Dee-Do-Dah, added the voices of Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans, and a #1 record and the Wrecking Crew were born. Hartman also traces the work of later members of the Crew such as Leon Russell, Larry Knechtel, and Jim Gordon, as well as the successful solo careers of Campbell and Russell. Hartman s fast-paced tale offers dazzling insights into a little known chapter of rock and roll history.
Customer ReviewsSee All
The Wrecking Crew
I'm a musician who enjoys and plays music from this era. I
often remember arguing with friends and fellow musicians
over who was the best band or the better player from the different
bands. After reading "The Wrecking Crew" , I guess we were all
correct because the same musicians played on all of our favorite
records! I strongly recommend this book for an explanation of the
quality of musicianship that went into the creation of a group
sound when being recorded. I suspect that the real members of the group must have really woodshedded to learn the solos off
of the hired guns.( In the long run The Wrecking Crew forced the real band members to become better players so we all gained.)
This book was hard to put down and the insertion of specific song sessions really brought back some nice memories of a wonderful era. Some very gifted players left us a large catalogue of songs that make us sad, happy,longing,etc. The next time you listen to the hits on the oldies channel, you are really going to know the players better.
The Wrecking Crew
Great book if you are interested in the early days of rock and roll! The sections on Phil Spector and many of the early 60's rock groups (i.e. - The Crystals, Beach Boys, Jan and Dean, Simon & Garfunkel, etc.) are very interesting in explaining how "The Wrecking Crew" was instrumental in developing the background music for many of their hits.
The Wrecking Crew
A true history lesson of music, The Wrecking Crew brought so many great studio sesions to life. I literally did not want this book to end. I'd recommend it especially to young musicians to understand what it takes to break into the business. Truly a fantastic read.