It’s taken Denny Tedesco seven years to get a proper
theatrical release for his joyful documentary The Wrecking Crew, after years on the festival circuit, but it’s
been worth the wait. This is a loving tribute to the studio session musicians
who populated hundreds of hit records, primarily in the 1960s. If you lived
through that era and remember the pop music, from Nancy Sinatra to the Beach
Boys, from the Mamas and the Papas to Sonny and Cher, I think you’ll react to
this film as I did, with a smile of warm nostalgia.
The filmmaker is the son of Tommy Tedesco, a ubiquitous
guitarist whose “twang” heralded the theme song of Bonanza on television. Fortunately, Denny captured his father on
camera before his passing, and he has many great, funny stories to tell, along
with bass player Carol Kaye (the primary woman on the scene), guitarist Glen
Campbell (a much-respected musician before he ever tried vocalizing), drummer
Earl Palmer, and many others.
It turns out that members of the Wrecking Crew—a general
nickname for these backup players, whose members varied from session to
session—were responsible for the sound of The Tijuana Brass, The Monkees, and
many other groups, although they seldom received credit. Herb Alpert, Brian
Wilson, Cher, Mickey Dolenz, Roger McGuinn, Nancy Sinatra, and producer Lou
Adler all testify to this fact, expressing enormous admiration for these
incredibly versatile instrumentalists.
They often worked around the clock, playing on rhythm &
blues, rock and roll, and mainstream pop recordings and earning a handsome
living, sometimes sacrificing personal and family relationships along the way.
And then, seemingly overnight, it all disappeared. An era
was over. Thank goodness Denny Tedesco captured his interviews when he did.
I love this film and didn’t want it to end. Whether you’re a
music lover in general or a baby boomer harboring affection for the tunes of
your time, make a beeline for any theater showing The Wrecking Crew. It’s a gem.