British Studio Drummer Bobby Graham
No, British studio drummer Bobby Graham didn’t join the Beatles. When The Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein asked him in 1962, if he was in interested in joining the band, Bobby Graham answered: “Why would I want to join a band in Liverpool that nobody has ever heard of?”. Had he joined The Beatles the British music scene would have lost one of its most versatile drummers.
Like many studio musicians, Bobby Graham is a jazz drummer at heart. But he lent his drumming skills to every kind of music. He played the drums for many great British acts of the nineteen-sixties. It’s him on You Really Got Me by The Kinks, for example. You can also hear him on records by Them, Pretty Things, The Walker Brothers, Lulu, and Dusty Springfield. If you’d like to know more about the records he played on, than check Bobby Graham’s discography.
On many recording dates Bobby Graham played together with guitarist Jimmy Page who later would join Led Zeppelin. Like in the music studios in the USA, also British producers relied on experienced and skilled musicians who could record fast and in any style. Studio time was too expensive to take any risks. Back then still most of the music was recorded live and you had maybe four tracks on an analogue tape machine. If somebody messed up it meant doing it all over again.There’s was now software that could edit mistakes easily.
Visit Bobby Graham’s website to get more insight into the hard working life of a British studio drummer.
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.
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.
See also: The «Wrecking Crew» Movie – Documentary About L.A. Studio Musicians Of The Sixties