‘Wrecking Crew’ Doc Honors LA Studio Musicians

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Wrecking Crew DVD coverThis film about The Wrecking Crew started production in 1996, premiered at the South By Southwest Film Festival in 2008 and finally received a theatrical release in 2015. If it had been a baby, it’d be legal by now – legal being the operative word.

The studio musicians profiled here played on dozens of hit records, so the documentary had to include lots and lots of music, from the Beach Boys, Mamas and Papas, Monkees and Righteous Brothers to Elvis, Sonny & Cher, the Byrds, the Association… and, as the old late-night TV commercials used to say, “But wait, there’s more!” This was Phil Spector’s house band. This was the Tijuana Brass. Hell, these guys were the real Partridge Family!

Perhaps most interestingly, the movie shows how Brian Wilson cast aside his own bandmates for the Crew’s superior musical abilities. Those replaced may claim on film this was due to the rigors of touring, but the truth is obvious: only the most brilliant musicians could get into Brian’s head, wrestle with that unique brain and come out with “Good Vibrations.”

Clearing the music that reinforces the Wrecking Crew’s immense and wide-ranging talent took a Kickstarter campaign, and the world owes those who donated a big thanks. Clips of interviews conducted over two decades provide essential context for the Crew members’ memories and musical insights. Here are Tommy Tedesco (father of the director), Plas Johnson, Hal Blaine, Earl Palmer, Leon Russell (yes, that Leon Russell), Glen Campbell (ditto, interviewed prior to his Alzheimer’s diagnosis) and especially Carol Kaye, the only woman, telling it like it was. And here are artists from Brian Wilson to Frank Zappa, giving the musicians their long-awaited due. Behind-the-scenes footage shows the collaborative process in action at the very highest level.

With apologies to Joni Mitchell, the Wrecking Crew was the true starmaker machinery behind the popular song, and thanks to Denny Tedesco’s efforts to complete his labor of love, now the whole world knows it – as well as his father’s name.

Related: Our interview with Wrecking Crew filmmaker Denny Tedesco

The rise of the singer-songwriter and bands looking to play their own music themselves doomed the all-things-to-all-people Wrecking Crew. But man, was it fun while it lasted.

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Laura Huntt Foti

Laura often says, “Music is my madeleine,” a Proustian reference meaning that when she hears certain classic songs she can completely transport mentally to another time and place. She has used her deep connection to music in her career, including three memorable years at Billboard as queen of music video and three years at RCA Records she prefers not to discuss.

More recently, after a move from New York to Los Angeles and a long stint in interactive multimedia, Laura moved into internet/social media marketing for music and other clients. In 2012 she wrote The Cusp of Everything, a novel incorporating a full soundtrack. In 2014 she wrote and performed a one-woman show about online dating, All the Wrong Men. Currently she is working on a new show, My Life as a Shiksa, and workshopping her play, Worldly Possessions.
Laura Huntt Foti
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