By Sarah McLean, Feb 17 2016 05:00PM
I recently watched the The Wrecking Crew. For those that don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s a 2014 documentary and an interesting look at the session musicians who not only played on some of the most iconic music of the 1960s, but created it. Created it. Those popular songs by those popular bands that you love and adore that you just assumed were written and recorded by the actual artists? Were not.
What? My mind was blown when I heard this. I’m talking Beach Boys. Elvis. The Byrds. Mamas and Papas. The list goes on.
When most of us think of session musicians we think of them as the necessary backing band for solo singers and vocalists, for those artists who don’t play their own music but rely on their vocal ability. Nothing wrong with that. But we don’t think that bands like the Beach Boys might not have actually played on their own records.
The Wrecking Crew did everything.
To think they created most of the iconic music of rock n roll bands who could play instruments is mind boggling. It’s not that these bands, like the Beach Boys couldn’t play their own music, they could. It’s just that The Wrecking crew were just much, much, much more talented and skilled musicians.
Pet Sounds. One of the most iconic albums of all time. Arguably the best Beach Boys album ever. Playing on the record? The Wrecking Crew. Creating the music you hear? The Wrecking Crew, with the guidance of Brian Wilson, of course. Yes, we can assume they would be the masterminds behind the music of The Monkees, but the Beach Boys? Wow.
I don’t use the Beach Boys as an example to deride any of their amazing accomplishments and served praise. Brian Wilson clearly played a gigantic role in shaping the music and sound and leading them in the right direction. I use them to point out that no one was immune to the talents of The Wrecking Crew. No one. Not even one of the greater bands in history and most influential bands in the 1960s.
I mean, I feel like my childhood, and by my, I mean those who actually grew up in the 60s, has been shattered. How could one group of people be responsible for so much amazing music? And how were they never given the credit they were due until 2007 when they were inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame? And thankfully by Denny Tedesco, son of Wrecking Crew member Tommy Tedesco, in 2008 via the documentary. Mind you, they are still not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (save for two members being inducted as “sidemen” in 2000).
As the documentary came to an end, I was glad they all, individually and together, came to the same point: this was just a small period in their lives. Like most musicians, you think the fame, fortune and money will last forever. They might not have had the level of fame as the musicians they played for did, but they had the fortune, and the pitfalls that come along with it.
As the 1970s approached and emphasis shifted towards bands who played their own instruments as well as The Wrecking Crew, they became obsolete. A harbinger of the times. They were now the old guys that were being replaced by the new regime, just like they had done years before.