The Secret ’60s Hit Regime – The Wrecking CrewNate Brown
“Nobody cared. All they wanted was the product. They just wanted the name and the sales. Who created it? Psh. That was incidental.” – Dick Clark
The 60s were the glory days for an elite group of studio musicians dubbed The Wrecking Crew. However, this handful of remarkable musicians took the backseat, recording their amazing talent on thousands of tracks and then slapping other peoples’ names on the albums.
We’re not talking about a Side B song here-and-there for Joe Blow. Take a listen to Good Vibrations by The Beach Boys. What you’re hearing is The Wrecking Crew. Mrs. Robinson by Simon & Garfunkel, Windy by The Association, California Dreamin’ by The Mamas & the Papas (and thousands more) were all played by The Wrecking Crew.
Earl Palmer, a drummer with The Wrecking Crew, explains, “It was quite easy for the producers and the companies to hire us to read this music and play these things down in three hours and get out of that studio in three hours than to have them [the actual musicians in the band] come and spend three weeks doing it.”
Milli Vanilli’s got nothing on The Wrecking Crew. Why didn’t they put these artists’ names on the albums, giving them credit? Dick Clark suggests, “Maybe one of the reasons they left the names off was the same musicians played on so many people’s records it would have been an embarrassment if anybody had ever listed them.”
Some members of The Wrecking Crew struggled with it, however. Plas Johnson recalls a disheartening situation with Surfer’s Stomp by The Marketts.
“I think it’s a little different when you’re a horn player and you’re asked to play the introduction, and play the first chorus … and play the first solo, and then play the fade on the end. And the damn thing comes out, and it doesn’t have your name on it. Worse than not getting the money is to have … to have played on a hit record which sold a million copies, and not even have your name on it. And they go dig some white kids up out of high school and put them on the road and call them the name.” – Plas Johnson
The Wrecking Crew ruled Southern California throughout the ’60s and shaped the developing Rock N Roll era. What’s most interesting to me is that the youth culture during the ’60s, known for their independence, their new music … many of the things they thought they created … were actually created by a group of quirky adults in LA duping them all.
Tommy Todesco (guitar) light-heartedly explained how he did it:
“When I thought of the music, I thought I was a 13 year old trying to learn how to play music. Every time I played, you know … There was all them hits that was on The Marketts, Routers, all them solos. And then, I brought myself back. I said, ‘How would a kid play this that’s so stupid, that doesn’t know what he’s doing …’ and play that.”
If you’re interested in learning more about The Wrecking Crew, Netflix recently added a documentary called “The Wrecking Crew” to their queue. Quite a revealing documentary! The above quotes were all taken from this documentary.
If you happen to watch it, jot down a couple of quotes from the movie … whatever quotes stand out to you … and share them with us below.
Visit The Wrecking Crew documentary site here: http://www.wreckingcrewfilm.com/