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Video: Denny Tedesco on The Wrecking Crew

This post has video/audio and audio-only versions of the same interview with Denny Tedesco, director of “The Wrecking Crew.” The video version is in the box just below and the audio-only below left. There were some Zoom issues during the conversation with Denny, so I posted both.

It’s hard to overestimate the impact of The Wrecking Crew, a loose association of studio musicians in Los Angeles in the 1960s and 1970s.

It is most associated with music aimed at young people. This expansive category includes rock, folk, pop, country, R&B and other sub-genres. The Wrecking Crew also recorded with “establishment” acts such Herb Alpert, Frank and Nancy Sinatra and Dean Martin. The bottom line is that they were very good musicians who could play anything put in front of them, and do it quickly. The music world was changing, and these folks were in the right place at the right time.

The Daily Music Break had the pleasure of speaking with Denny Tedesco last week. Denny’s father, Tommy, was an important member of the collective (it’s hard to find a word to describe them other than “group,” which is misleading). Tedesco played guitar and other string instruments and clearly had a great sense of humor.

The easiest way to assess the importance of The Wrecking Crew is simply to name the songs to which they contributed. A partial list follows. The full list is at Wikipedia. Many recognizable names were in The Wrecking Crew. The list is here. Highest on the list are Glen Campbell, Leon Russell, Dr. John and jazz guitarist Barney Kessel.

The audio-only version:

  1. Denny Tedesco on The Wrecking Crew 41:50
The entire film is available on YouTube. That version, however, doesn’t come close to presenting all or most of the music from the Wrecking Crew. A CD collection and related items at the movie’s website and Facebook page. Tedesco’s latest project is a film called “The Immediate Family.” It focuses on the musicians Danny Kortchmar, Waddy Wachtel, Leland Sklar, Russ Kunkel and Steve Postell. The Facebook page is here.

A point that Denny made during our conversation is some of this was great and innovative music. Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound and The Beach Boys’ landmark album Pet Sounds are examples. But a lot of it was about professional musicians feeding their families. The Monkees and Tiny Tim are fondly remembered — but not for innovation or creative genius.

Here is a partial list of songs supported by The Wrecking Crew:

“He’s a Rebel” (The Crystals)

“Da Doo Ron Ron (When He Walked Me Home)” (The Crystals)
“Surf City” (Jan and Dean)
“Be My Baby” (The Ronettes)

“I Get Around” (The Beach Boys)
“Dead Man’s Curve” (Jan and Dean)
“Everybody Loves Somebody” (Dean Martin)
“Little Old Lady (from Pasadena)” (Jan and Dean)
“You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ ” (The Righteous Brothers)

“Help Me, Rhonda” (The Beach Boys)
“Mr. Tambourine Man” (The Byrds)
“This Diamond Ring” (Gary Lewis and the Playboys)
“California Dreamin’ ” (The Mamas & the Papas)
“Eve of Destruction” (Barry McGuire)
“I Got You Babe” (Sonny & Cher)

“Good Vibrations” The Beach Boys)
“Monday Monday” (The Mamas & the Papas)
“River Deep – Mountain High” (Ike and Tina Turner)
“Strangers in the Night” Frank Sinatra
“These Boots Are Made for Walkin’ ” (Nancy Sinatra)

“Up, Up and Away” (The 5th Dimension)
“San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair) “Scott McKenzie)
“Somethin’ Stupid” (Frank & Nancy Sinatra)
“The Beat Goes On” (Sonny & Cher)

“Wichita Lineman” (Glen Campbell)
“Mrs. Robinson” (Simon & Garfunkel)
”Tiptoe Through the Tulips” (Tiny Tim)
“Classical Gas” (Mason Williams)

“Galveston” (Glen Campbell)
“Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In” (The 5th Dimension)
“The Boxer” (Simon & Garfunkel)

“(They Long to Be) Close to You” (The Carpenters)
“I Think I Love You” (The Partridge Family)
“Bridge over Troubled Water” (Simon & Garfunkel)

“Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves” (Cher)
“Indian Reservation” Raiders (AKA Paul Revere and the Raiders)

“(Last Night) I Didn’t Get to Sleep at All” (The 5th Dimension)
“It Never Rains in Southern California” (Albert Hammond)
“Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu” (Johnny Rivers)

“Half-Breed” (Cher)

“Rhinestone Cowboy” (Glen Campbell)
“Love Will Keep Us Together” (Captain & Tennille)

“I’m Not Gonna Miss You” (Glen Campbell)


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Here’s What’s Here

The Daily Music Break explores every genre of music, from hip hop to opera. It's simple: Boundaries are dumb. It's all good. Here is more about the site and here is our index:

--A Tribe Called Quest to The Dick Hyman Trio (In other words, A to H)

--Indigo Girls to Queen Ida (I to Q)

--Radiohead to ZZ Top (R to Z)

Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.


What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.


The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.