There’s a positive review of the music documentary The Wrecking Crew on the Variety website. The documentary features some of the Los Angeles studio musicians who recorded many of the hits of the nineteen-sixties.
The film features legendary musicians such as Carol Kaye, Plas Johnson, Tommy Tedesco, Earl Palmer, Hal Blaine, Don Randi and stars like Nancy Sinatra, Cher, Brian Wilson and Glen Campbell.
On my favorite music blog JazzWax I read that jazz sax player Sonny Rollins soloed on a few Rolling Stones songs in the eighties. I don’t know if Sonny Rollins did regularly rock and pop sessions or only occasionally.
Anyway, I had to think about how traditionally jazz players are brought in whenever a good sax solo is needed. Like for example Plas Johnson, another great jazz sax player who contributed many stirring solos to countless pop, R&B and rock and roll records. He played on records by Rod Stewart, Elton John, the Monkees, Duane Eddy, Little Richard, Gene Vincent, the Coasters and many more. Or David Sanborn who played with David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen and also the Rolling Stones.
Denny Tedesco, son of the late studio guitar master Tommy Tedesco, made a movie called The Wrecking Crew about the great studio musicians of the sixties who worked in the Los Angeles music studios.
It features studio legends Carol Kaye, Plas Johnson, Hal Blaine, Don Randi and many more. Stars like Cher, Nancy Sinatra, and Micky Dolenz (the Monkees) are featured, too.
The documentary will be shown in March at the Buffalo Niagara Film Festival and at the SXSW in Austin, Texas. In April it will be shown at the Nashville Film Festival. You can find further information on the Wrecking Crew Movie Homepage.
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.
California Dreamin’ on such a winter’s day: I’d go to the Jazz club Charlie O’s on January 5th, if I was in L.A. Sax legend Plas Johnson (“Pink Panther Theme”) and electric bass innovator Carol Kaye (“Mission Impossible Theme”) will share the same stage. But mind you, Carol Kaye will play guitar, not electric bass. Plas and Carol both started their careers in Jazz. In the nineteen-fifties they began working as studio musicians in Los Angeles, recording hundreds of Pop hits and movie scores.
Carol Kaye first played rhythm guitar on hits like “Unchained Melodie” and “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” (Righteous Brothers), “La Bamba” (Ritchie Valens), “What a Wonderful World” (Sam Cooke), “Surfin’ USA” (Beach Boys) and many others. Then she switched to electric bass and played unforgettable bass lines. It’s her electric bass on the Beach Boy’s “California Girls” and “Good Vibrations”, on the “The Bill Cosby Show” theme, on Tina Turner’s “River Deep, Mountain High” on Elvis’s “A Little Less Conversation”, on Simon and Garfunkel’s “Homeward Bound”, and on Ray Charles’s “I Don’t Need No Doctor”. For more of her bass credits check this list.
Like Carol, Plas Johnson played on countless records. A small sample of people he played with includes Carol King, Steely Dan, Barbara Streisand, Bobby Darin, Nat King Cole, Little Richard, and B.B. King. For more credits check this list.
After their successful careers in the music studios, Plas Johnson and Carol Kaye returned to their Jazz roots. Plas regularly performs in Jazz clubs and at festivals. Carol also gets on stage from time to time, writes bass and guitar tutorials, and teaches (check out her valuable playing tips). It’s a rare chance to hear these two great musicians together, who both contributed so much to music.