Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Carol Kaye Talks About The Wrecking Crew Drummers


Carol Kaye:
Also one wrote a lot of gibberish about how the "wall of sound" is so "tricky" to get (a whole philosophy about it), I had to answer no, nothing like that at all. We all just played too loud, at Gold Star what some had called "dirty" echo (but which I thought was great, built by Dave Gold), and leaked into each others' microphones ... that was the "secret", in my opinion, to the "Wall Of Sound" as well as Dave's special echo that ran right through the women's rest room.

About drummers:
Question:    Carol, what do you know about a drummer named Nick Martinis. His name shows up on a few PET SOUNDS and SMILE-era Beach Boys session sheets, but I've never heard of him otherwise. Was he another occasional player like Richie Frost?
Answer:     Nick is a fine jazz drummer who, like a few others for a little while, started doing some occasional record dates ... but he (like others) didn't invest into getting a rock-drum setup, plus didn't take the time to really get his rock chops together. Richie Frost did quite a few dates for awhile but never was a #1 call drummer ... before Earl Palmer and Hal Blaine, both shared the #1 call spot for drummers (both of them neck and neck in amount of recording dates done).
Sharkey (Ed) Hall and Jessie Sailes were doing the drum recording dates along with Charlie Blackwell - all 3 were jazz drummers as well as a couple of others doing drum recording dates then: the fine Jack Sperling and Jackie Mills ... other drummers doing the more elite record dates were Alvin Stoller (who could sightread 4 line scores of written drum parts as well as Frank Sinatra's drummer, Irv Cottler, "Mr. Swing."
Earl Palmer moved here from New Orleans (in 1957) where he'd already recorded many hits for great artists such as Fats Domino, Dave Bartholomew, etc. for years there since 1947 and is the most-recorded drummer with certainly the most credits - he was already established since 1947 as a hot recording drummer in New Orleans before arriving here in Hollywood in 1957 and is accomplished in ALL styles including fine jazz, not just rock and roll.
Nick did on a few record dates but was a fine jazz drummer and a good scat-singer in jazz also. He kept playing jazz live and has been with the Pete Jolly Trio (usually with Chuck Berghofer string bass if he's not busy) for years now, has cut many CDs with Pete, other jazz artists in LA.
Earl Palmer, John Guerin, Paul Humphrey, and most of the recording drummers were fine jazz drummers (as well as Sharkey Hall, Jessie Sailes, Charlie Blackwell, Jack Sperling etc. before them), and great to work with in the recording studios. These fine musicians made the switch, got their rock drums sets together (totally different heads, setups, mutes etc. than the finer jazz styles of music), and even Hal Blaine played a few psuedo "soul jazz" gigs (for H.B. Barnum) but no, he wasn't a jazz drummer and didn't do jazz in the nightclubs with the regulars at all - he was a always a "rock-pop drummer" only. Hal did get his well-known rock drum sounds together for rock and roll yes and did a lot of record dates and was instrumental in starting the multi tom-tom rock licks, and heavy-sounding rock styles etc.
Earl Palmer jazz drummer from New Orleans, started the "funky" paradiddles, and famous great drumstyle sounds of his own too (Boogaloo, Swamp Beat, tasty Jazz Fills and Sounds etc.) - I enjoyed many a record date with Earl. He had that great groove, taste and sparkling technique - he loved to play music, and wasn't into "stardom" role much either, a real musician and wonderful human being, fine family man who successfully raised 7 wonderful kids. Jim Gordon, while not known as a "jazz drummer" could hold his own in all styles, being a schooled musician early-on as part of the drum corps, think it was the Blue something corps that was widely known world-wide.
As far as Richie Frost is concerned, he was very busy here and there for a few short years (a sometimes-jazz drummer, mostly a groove drummer on recordings, could play all styles of music) but like jazz drummer Jack Sperling, other drummers of that period, his work dwindled pretty fast at one point and I remember and about the late 1960s, he moved out of LA up to Oregon. He did more recording work than Nick ever did but still was not that popular as a popular recording drummer (not like Earl, Hal, Paul, John, others).
The public still have little idea of all the creativeness of the totally-experienced studio musicians on all those dates. At first we had to write down the chord changes on most early dates - there was no music usually, then later on more arranging / writing was done but we all still had to create parts over the arrangements.
If people stop to think of the background of musicians in those days: HARD bebop jazz, the GREAT big-band era of the 40s and 50s which produced the finest musicians in the world, years and years of combo work in nightclubs, and the all-important MULTI-CHORDS of all the HUNDREDS of STANDARDS we all had to not only play and read, but INVENT on BEFORE any of us did studio work ... only the drug-free booze-free musicians made it into the studio musician work which was taboo to anyone who had drug or booze problems. It was a highly self-disciplined business.
And ... for movie studio work, it was necessary background experience especially for drummers to come from the big-band era and the jazz era, for the heavy big-band experiences they needed to do studio movie-TV recording with, that was a given if you wanted to work in the heavy major film studios.
That musician experience is not really available today like it was in the 1950s ... today, many will play in big-bands but it's more sporadic than like the huge demand for prolific traveling famous big bands of the 1940s and 50s who played dance & concert gigs almost every night. We paid our dues like everyone did back in the 1950s where you're playing almost every night, doing some rough traveling, and playing all the time. There's not much chance today to play to develop musicians'creativity like it was back in those hard-working professional musician days.
Musicians today are not trained in the standards chordal education of those times either. Today's educational system is much different in training fusion players, rock-soul, and elevator music but not the real jazz of the 1950s, the real music it took to play all the chord changes of the Standards which was so common back then unfortunately ... which limits the kinds of any creativity musicians can do today.
The musicians of those prolific times were mostly the STUDIO MUSICIANS of the 60s, hardened by years of professional playing, on the road, playing so much music that when I teach it today, sometimes students wilt fast - they had no idea the music we played was that complex compared to the easy rock-pop-country-blues they're used to playing.
But usually, because of the good materials they work on plus no-fluff teaching, they do get it with some dedication to a little time with steady practice. Experienced teaching does work well in passing along the important theory, chordal progressions, how to create etc. ... they do eventually "get it" just fine ... the system works.
There's just not a lot of teachers out there who know how to teach the chordal real-jazz stuff and surely don't teach the right ways unfortunately - between that and not enough opportunity like there used to be when real music (instead of stage-shows etc.) was important. The scene has changed and yet there are places to play, a lot of them, and places to jam too if not right in your own home with a few musicians. It's amazing what you can do to get that kind of joint-practice with other musicians. Playing in front of the audiences is another percipience to get used to also.

There's a reason why you don't quite hear the musicianship today like the many who played in the great Artie Shaw, Goodman, Ellington, Basie, Harry James, Woody Herman, Chick Webb, Fletcher Henderson, even the Glenn Miller and Glen Gray bands of yesteryear. The spirit, the tightness, the total grooves, the intensity, the "hungry" sounds ... if you don't play good, you don't eat - that's the way it was back then.
Today, most people would rather have career jobs and just play for fun on the weekends, which works well too, it was too hard of a life to be a full-time musician back in the 40s and 50s. Today, you can have good gigs and just play part-time and enjoy a lifetime of playing some good gigs if you've learned the right stuff.
The chordal music of the 1940s and 1950s standards and jazz (and even the pop of those years) created a musical era that can't be duplicated, not today, with the ignorant inexperienced teachers out there teaching nonsense non-workable studies to students. Some younger teachers are making it a point to learn from the more-experienced older educators to get the great chordal system that spawned real jazz soloing, standards, etc. ... I surely hope the young teachers will do more to learn (and teach) the great chordal system that created this past era.
Other popularly-working fine studio drummers in the movies, TV-film shows, and non-rock elite record dates include: Sol Gubin, Louie Bellson, Ed Thigpen, Jake Hanna, Panama Francis, Larry Bunker, Nick Ceroli, Joe Porcaro, Harold Jones, Cubby O'Brien, Mel Lewis, Duffy Jackson as well as most of the work done by jazz heavies ... Johnny Guerin, Earl Palmer, Paul Humphrey, Ed Shaughnessey, Alvin Stoller, Shelly Manne, Irv Cottler, etc. all wonderful people by the way, and fun to work with etc.


Record date (non-movie except maybe for 1-2 films) drummers also included: Sharky Hall, Jesse Sailes, Hal Blaine, Jim Gordon, Ron Tutt, Frankie Capp, Ed Greene, Jim Keltner. note: Frankie Capp was popularly-hired in movies as a percussionist, as was another very great jazz drummer-legend: Larry Bunker.
PS. Like Jack Nitzsche, Leon Russell, Al Kooper etc. have always said, and others in our business also, we were never known by Hal Blaine's later-invented name for his book (1990) as "the wrecking crew" ... that's his self-promoting name.
We studio musicians were all independent of each other totally in recording, and never were a "formed group of musicians."
We all had our own separate professional careers way before ever doing studio work and many of us were well-known before ever doing studio work. We were sometimes known as the "clique" but never 'wrecking crew' as promoted by one who would like to think of himself as "the authority" on our history, it's simply not true as others like Nitzchie, Leon Russell, others have often said in the news media ... we were never known as the Hal Blaine term 'wrecking crew' but that's not the worse of it.
Hal is totally off-base and wrong when saying "the older studio musicians called us that" ... he never was hired for movie work with those movie studio musicians he slanders by saying that, they never said that, plus what they sometimes said was in praise of us, totally the opposite of what Hal says! I know them all well, and worked daily with them, Hal did not and there-in might be the problem.
I've always publicly said nice things about Hal Blaine in all these years, as you can tell in my past correspondence, and interviews with the news media. But enough is enough, I never got along with Hal Blaine, tho' I did a lot of record dates with him yes, but I was never close to him and I never "had a feud with Hal" either as Denny Tedesco lies to people about to cover himself since he refuses to accept I reject his film for what it is, in one journalist's opinion a "piece of Hollywood fluff", telling lies that sometimes makes the public angry at us."

Nothing could be farther from the truth!! We really liked the music we turned into hit records tho' sometimes yes, it was boring at times (surf-rock stuff) etc. ... Denny cannot accept the fact that his misbegotten film is simply NOT who we are nor what we did ... it is skewered to make money for himself and for Hal Blaine and a couple of others, that's the truth of the matter. We were ALL duped into appearing in this film, it was misrepresented to us!
If you wanted to get Earl Palmer, Plas Johnson, others including myself really angry, say "wrecking crew", and it's not just those words but what they stand for: Hal Blaine's invented self-promotion to make people think we were all part of "his band" ... totally false. And Denny Tedesco, who sometimes calls Hal Blaine "my real father", slanders me by saying "there's a feud between Carol and Hal" to make an excuse as to why I don't endorse his phony film too! He has threatened me from time to time to "take down your statement about my film" but I refuse to do that, as he's telling lies about me, and illegally posting something I never said on his website.
See our Music Connections Interview for more info.
Knowledgeable top journalists now shy-away from anything called "wrecking crew" since they know it to be a phony term, and is frowned upon by most of the studio musicians (yes, a few go whichever the wind blows as to that for sales of their CDs etc.) who were never called that at all ... we were ALL totally independent of each other and were never part of a "band" let alone a "band by Hal Blaine called the 'wrecking crew'" ... He should not set himself up as "the person defining who we all were" ... most of us had thriving wonderful (mostly jazz) music careers before we ever saw the insides of any studio work.
And Hal gets very angry when someone doesn't "agree with him" about his self-promo term of 'wrecking crew' ... he's been angry at others and at me for years about this ... and, like he does with others he gets angry at, he slanders too. He even got angry at Sonny Bono because Sonny didn't see him and so didn't say hello to him one time.
Also, Hal Blaine stole one of my recorded tracks (see my home-page website), and uses it as "his own" recording.


Again, Denny Tedesco's film of 'wrecking crew' is NOT representative of the true story of our group of studio musicians and has been purposefully skewered to omit some key players as well as play up the importance of many others who were minor, and invent "stories" in this considered-to-be-fluff film - it's totally wrong and while some might not say anything about it, most of our group of studio musicians are irate about being USED for Denny's true purpose.
Also, Hal's "credit" of The Way We Were is wrong, that was Paul Humphrey on drums on that (listed on the contract too), and also Jim Gordon on drums of "These Boots Were Made For Walkin" by Nancy Sinatra as Nancy herself remembers too ... Hal played on the Goodyear ad of that tune, not Nancy's hit recording, maybe he confuses what he did with that, and not the gold record he bought ... the contract on Nancy's recording can't be found.
Hal and Earl were neck-to-neck in Hollywood as far as amount of record dates go, and my fav of course was always Earl Palmer, who had many hits before he ever started to record in Hollywood in 1957 (hits with Dave Bartholomew, others in New Orleans since 1947). And then I loved to record with Paul Humphrey and many others like John Guerin, both like Earl were top pro's, well-known fine jazz drummers. You can go from jazz drums to rock-pop and soul drums easily but not much the other way around.
I did a lot of recordings with Hal Blaine, true, but we were never close and his ego was such you had to bite your tongue sometimes especially when it comes to his idea of "women" and his incessant complaints about his ex-wives etc. and his carrying ons, i.e. ... he sometimes has an odd habit of putting a flashing red-light on top of his car ...
Earl Palmer, myself and many other top musicians like Leon Russell, Jack Nitzchie have always spoken out against the phony term of "wrecking crew" ... and tho' at first, not being aware of the manipulation ... we were all fooled by Denny.
From a dedicated wonderful journalist:
>>>>And thanks for putting me right about the Wrecking Crew expression. I had kind of wondered why I had never seen the expression in my older music books and now I know, it's banned now.







“When you hear somebody with balls, that’s me.” — Carol Kaye





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