Glen Campbell’s Early Session Career Recalled

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Campbell with drummer Hal Blaine at a Wrecking Crew session (Photo: Denny Tedesco archives; used with permission)

The Los Angeles studio musicians known as the Wrecking Crew performed on countless hits in the 1960s and ’70s. Some of the numerous highlights include the Beach Boys (Pet Sounds), Mamas and Papas (“Monday, Monday”), Righteous Brothers (“You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'”), Sonny & Cher (“I Got You Babe”), the Byrds (“Mr. Tambourine Man”), the Fifth Dimension (“Up, Up and Away”), to name a few.

The musicians’ story was documented in a recent film that was produced and directed by Denny Tedesco, the son of guitarist extraordinaire Tommy Tedesco, a brilliant session musician who played on thousands of pop songs and many film scores as well. On the day that Glen Campbell died, Denny Tedesco shared his personal thoughts and memories of the gifted musician and singer and has let Best Classic Bands reprint it here.

Growing up in the early 60s we constantly overheard names of musicians in conversations between my parents or their friends. The names were Hal [Blaine], Earl [Palmer], Don [Pitman], Bill, Carol [Kaye], and always Glen. It wasn’t until the mid ’60s did I realize my father was friends with a famous guy named Glen Campbell. He had his own TV show! The music business is a profession that is constantly changing and sometimes leaves bruised feelings along the way. Jealousy can be the poison that kills relationships and careers. But when Glen broke through, there couldn’t be a happier group of players than the Wrecking Crew. Glen was loved by all the players. My father, Tommy Tedesco, said he was the best rock guitarist that he ever sat next to.

He might not be able to read a note of music, but they said he had ears like an elephant. He knew when to play and what to play. When they laid down the tracks they would sometimes ask Glen to put down a demo vocal to see how it sounded.

In 2003, I had the chance to interview Glen at his home. My interview with him was about “Glen the session player” and I could see how happy he was to share the stories. At times you could see how much it meant to him when he spoke about my father and the others.

Watch an outtake of an interview with Campbell from Tedesco’s The Wrecking Crew documentary. “I was hanging out with the greatest musicians in the world and that’s how you learn how to play.”

Glen couldn’t be more grateful for the success that followed his session days but he did say, he loved being a sideman. He loved the camaraderie and the family atmosphere in the studio. He never stopped speaking of his fellow players and giving them praise.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Glen’s family and friends. You shared with us his struggle and the family’s struggle with Alzheimer’s and we thank you for that. You helped so many.

Tonight they are telling jokes and playing guitar licks in heaven. You’ve left us with songs and memories.

Related: Our interview with Denny Tedesco on the making of his film

Watch The Wrecking Crew trailer

You can purchase the movie, soundtrack and other items here.

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