Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Hal Blaine interview

Great article and interview with Hal Blaine at Jazz Wax, absolutely worth reading. If you haven't heard of him, Marc Myers'  introduction should pique your interest:
Except for the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and a few other groups, most rock bands of the early and mid-1960s didn't play on their own records. Which groups? Try the Beach Boys, the Mamas and the Papas, the Byrds, Jay and the Americans, Gary Lewis and the Playboys and dozens of others.
Who did? Hal Blaine and a tight-knit ad hoc group of about 30 highly skilled Hollywood studio musicians known as the Wrecking Crew. They could read anything put down in front of them and could nail the song the first time through, bringing enormous snap to the results. For years I've been fascinated by this little-known secret hit-making machine.
How big a deal is Hal? He recorded on 39 No. 1 hits on Billboard's 
Hot 100. Which hits? Here are just a handful: Can't Help Falling in Love, He's a Rebel, Surf City, I Get Around, Everybody Loves Somebody, Help Me, Rhonda, Mr Tambourine Man, I Got You Babe, My Love, These Boots Are Made for Walkin', Monday Monday, Strangers in the Night, Cracklin' Rosie and The Way We Were.
Hal also was the drummer on six hits to win the Grammy for Record of the Year for six years in a row. A staggering stat. Which six? A Taste of Honey, Strangers in the Night, Up, Up and Away, Mrs. Robinson, Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In and Bridge Over Troubled Water. Hal also was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000.
Like Detroit's Funk Brothers who backed up virtually all of the Motown groups, the Wrecking Crew did the same in Los Angeles. The difference, of course, is that everyone knew the Funk Brothers, and the artists they played behind were singers. The Wrecking Crew, by contrast, was a phantom band of killer musicians, and their vast contribution wasn't disclosed on albums until recently on CD re-issues.

Visit Jazz Wax to read the entire piece, including video and more.

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