March 12, 2019

From “Huckabee” pop culture historian Pat Reeder ( )...

The family of Hal Blaine announced that he died Monday at 90. You might be thinking, “Who’s Hal Blaine?” You may be surprised to know that he is someone whose work takes up an incredible amount of space in your head, and if you love music, in your heart.

Hal Blaine was the greatest session drummer of them all, part of the famous group of L.A. session musicians known as the Wrecking Crew.  They were first known as “The First Call Gang,” then “The Clique.”  But Blaine said they became the Wrecking Crew because older musicians said they were going to wreck the music industry.

They were the secret players who really appeared on thousands of recordings in the ‘60s and ‘70s, even by bands that could play their own instruments – just not as brilliantly as the Wrecking Crew could (it’s ironic that the Monkees took so much grief from rock critics for not playing on their albums when the same musicians were also playing on albums by bands the critics revered.)  Some of the other members included Glen Campbell on guitar and Carol Kaye on bass. 

Blaine laid down the indelible beats on more than 35,000 recordings, including 6,000 singles, 150 top tens and 40 #1 hits.  Here are a few you might recall: “Be My Baby,” “Good Vibrations,” “Mr. Tambourine Man,” “Strangers In The Night,” "The Beat Goes On," “Monday, Monday,” "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In," “Love Will Keep Us Together”… well, this could go on and on, but it’s a lot more fun to let you hear some of them.  Fortunately, someone put together a montage of brief clips of his classic recordings (it runs over 11 minutes and barely skims the surface.)  Enjoy.

And here’s the trailer for a recent documentary about the Wrecking Crew that you might want to stream.

Rest in peace, Hal Blaine.  And thanks for the memories (one of the few songs he didn’t play on).

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