Hal Blaine Tributes Led by Brian Wilson

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Members of the Wrecking Crew gathered for a Phil Spector session. That’s Hal Blaine behind the drum kit

He was hiding in plain sight. On thousands upon thousands of essential recorded treasures in any pop music collection. But because Hal Blaine was an “anonymous” studio musician–if the dozens of Los Angeles musicians known as The Wrecking Crew can be considered anonymous–it took the drummer’s death at 90 on March 11 for his name to finally be in headlines that he so richly deserved for his extraordinary creative output.

Of all the stunning revelations that were included in our obituary, this one might be the most incredible:

Between 1966 and ’71 Blaine played on six consecutive Grammy Record of the Year winners: Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass in 1966 for “A Taste of Honey”; Frank Sinatra in 1967 for “Strangers in the Night”; The Fifth Dimension in 1968 and 1970 for “Up, Up and Away” and “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In”; Simon and Garfunkel in 1969 and 1971 for “Mrs. Robinson” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”

Following his passing, the musicians and singers who worked with Blaine or were influenced by his talent, shared their appreciation and grief. We’ve picked just a handful to share with you.

First up is Brian Wilson, whose 1960s hits with the Beach Boys were largely recorded with the Wrecking Crew.

One drumming legend paid his respects to another. Ringo Starr offered his tribute to “an incredible musician.”

Ronnie Spector thanked Blaine for his “magic,” and shared a clip of him performing (at 87!) on “Be My Baby.”

“Today I regrettably have to say goodbye to Hal, and thank him for the magic he put on all our Ronettes recordings… and so many others throughout his incredible career. Thank you Hal. Love forever, Ronnie xxx”

Blaine performed on many of The Monkees’ recordings. Micky Dolenz wrote: “I am deeply saddened about the passing of drummer Hal Blaine. Hal played drums on the soundtrack of our lives for many of us…”

Before he became a solo recording star, Glen Campbell was an integral part of the Wrecking Crew. On his Twitter account, his family wrote: “As a member of the Wrecking Crew, Hal played on ‘Galveston,’ ‘Dreams of the Everyday Housewife’ and ‘Where’s the Playground Susie,’ to name a few. RIP Hal.”

Nancy Sinatra, whose pop hits were recorded with the Crew, shared a light moment.

Blaine and the Wrecking Crew played on such Paul Revere & the Raiders hits as “Kicks” and “Indian Reservation.” Lead singer Mark Lindsay wrote on his Facebook page: “Hal was the drummer-man for so many artists, including me as a solo and the Raiders at times, and he probably played on more hit sessions than any other musician in LA. It’s a very sad day in the music world, but I know somewhere the beat goes on.”

The Wrecking Crew were the backing band for Herb Alpert. The trumpeter wrote: “As a drummer Hal Blaine had his own voice and his own sound. His drums were tuned in a way that made them perfect for recording. Hal’s genius touch played on 40 #1 records, 150 Top 10 records…..and was loved and admired by all who knew him.”

In 2018, Alpert led the tribute to Blaine at the Grammys Salute to Music Legends

Guitarist Tommy Tedesco was a prominent member of the Wrecking Crew. His son, Denny Tedesco, produced and directed their acclaimed 2015 documentary. In a beautiful tribute, he wrote, in part: “Just listen to the hits and imagine if Hal never touched a drumstick. American pop music would be very different today.”

Related: Our interview with Denny Tedesco about the making of the film

Best Classic Bands Staff

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