This lovely video re-creates the making of the Beach Boys song Salt Lake City. It gives a rare insight into the way Brain Wilson used to produce songs together with the great Los Angeles studio musicians in the sixties. Some of the best play on this song: Carol Kaye, Hal Blaine, Plas Johnson, Howard Roberts and many more. Here’s a bit for trivia lovers: guitarist Billy Strange for once plays the tambourine.
Ukuleles usually don’t make it onto hit records. They don’t have a cool image and stand in the shadow of the guitars. But one ukulele was lucky and made it onto “Help Me, Rhonda” by the Beach Boys in 1965. It’s barely audible, but it is around.
If you get tired of listening to the song again and again while trying to hear the ukulele, you can go to Ukuleledisco and watch dozens of ukulele videos. There you can enjoy the sound of ukuleles without straining your ears.
It’s one of the best kept secrets in the music business: in the sixties most Pop and Rock musicians didn’t play on their records. The Beach Boys, The Monkees, The Byrds (except for Roger McGuinn), The Turtles, The Mamas and the Papas, and many more didn’t play any instruments in the studio, they only sang.
Back in the sixties there were no computer and synthesizers and there were limited tracks on the tape machines. So a lot of things had to be recorded live. A mistake was a mistake, you couldn’t easily edit it. In the studio musicians had not only to play perfect and with the right feeling, but they also had to record fast, because time was money. Only professional studio musicians could do it. The average Pop or Rock musician didn’t have the chops. On AmericanHeritage there’s fine article about the musician who created the classic sound of hundreds of hits in the sixties. The article concentrates on the studio musicians in Los Angeles, such as drummers Hal Blaine and Earl Palmer, electric bass player Carol Kaye, guitarists Billy Strange, Tommy Tedesco and Glen Campbell, piano players Larry Knechtel and Don Randi and many more.
Thanks to Tony Borgosano, webmaster of the Duane Eddy Tribute Page for calling attention to this article.