They came in like a wrecking ball . . . wait, wrong decade!
The 1950s/60s studio players who later became known as the Wrecking Crew didn’t wreck a thing. Their contribution to music is unmatched and will remain so. Their story is documented on film and in a companion coffee table book entitled Sound Explosion! Inside L.A.’s Studio Factory with the Wrecking Crew.
In the beginning of what became rock n roll, the Brill Building folks in New York City were the ones churning out the hits. Then middle America discovered sunshine and fresh oranges and bam, so did all the groovier people, including the musicians who became an integral part of the California scene.
Having just read 1967: A Complete Rock Music History of the Summer of Love, which is a visual mind trip, I subconsciously – or perhaps consciously – was comparing the graphics and content. Different concept, different feel. And it’s a great read, including firsthand accounts from the Wrecking Crew members and those who worked with them, as well as a cool year-by-year accounting of how the hits of the day were made. The inclusion of the ephemera, particularly the contracts, is fascinating and worth a careful look.
It has never made sense to me that the use of session musicians was considered a bad thing and I’ve never understood why the Monkees bore the brunt of that criticism. Read this book and if you didn’t know this before, you will certainly know it now: those boys certainly were not the only ones NOT playing their own instruments.
Another thing you’ll learn if you’re new to the Wrecking Crew: Glen Campbell was quite popular as a behind-the-scenes guitar player, long before he became a hit maker all on his own in the 1970s. His words in this book are particularly meaningful in light of his current condition.
And of course, there’s Phil Spector, a little crazy even back then, who invented the Wall of Sound, but couldn’t have done it without the likes of these fine folks. And Sonny Bono . . .
I won’t name everyone who was part of the Crew because there were quite a few of them. You can buy the book and learn the names yourself. I knew some of them prior to reading this, but I knew very little about Carol Kaye, who truly broke ground for women in rock. There ought to be a monument to her somewhere. She is one badass chick, even at 82 years old!
It took the Musicians Hall of Fame until 2007 to recognize the Crew’s astounding impact on popular music. And not just pop music. They could play every genre of music and did. Their influence will be felt as long as the Earth keeps spinning and people keep listening. And we should all be thankful for that!