Electric Bass Legend Carol Kaye: L.A. Studio Musicians Were Never Called ‘Wrecking Crew’


Carol Kaye

Picture: ibanez.com

Since studio drummer legend Hal Blaine published his biography “Hal Blaine And The Wrecking Crew” in 1990 (Rebeats Publications, Alma, Michigan) a lot of people – especially journalists – started calling the Los Angeles studio musicians of the nineteen-sixties “The Wrecking Crew”.

Soon a documentary called The Wrecking Crew will be released. It tells the story of the Los Angeles studio musicians.

According to bass player Carol Kaye however – who worked as a studio musician in Los Angeles from the fifties until the seventies – the name “The Wrecking Crew” wasn’t used in the sixties. On her homepage she puts the record straight:

Where did the term “wrecking crew” come from?

That is the name of Hal Blaine’s interesting book about our business. He said the older studio musicians tho’t we 60s studio musicians are going to “wreck the business”, the way we dressed and recorded rock and roll (blue jeans, no shaves sometimes…we worked around the clock, even as many as 4-5 recording dates a day).

To be honest with you, no-one heard that term until he put out his book (about 1990). He got his term (imo) from the backup 80’s NYC group for singer Darlene Love. Our group (50-60 of us) of successful 60s studio musicians were known only as “studio musicians”, or sometimes as the “clique”, never the “wrecking crew” at all (and most don’t like that sort of passe term also).

Phil Spector probably used Earl Palmer on drums more than Hal, so the term didn’t come from Phil either….there were about 350 fine studio musicians making good money steadily (“doctors’ pay”) in recording in LA studios at that time, but most of us are retired and there’s less work for studio musicians these days.

There’s another misconception regarding the studio musicians of the sixties that I think is more disturbing than the fact, that the name “The Wrecking Crew” apparently wasn’t used back in the sixties. Because of the now well known name “The Wrecking Crew”, many journalists and music fans think, that studio musicians like Blaine, Kaye, Don Randi, Plas Johnson, Billy Strange, Tommy Tedesco and others were a kind of band. Which is not true.

In fact, they all were hired individually for recording sessions, usually through a contractor and they all worked independently. In Earl Palmer’s Biography “Backbeat” (Da Capo Press) there’s information about how the contracting business in Los Angeles worked back in the nineteen-sixties.

See also: The Invisible Musicians Who Played On All The Sixties Hits.

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