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The Wrecking Crew: The Inside Story of Rock and Roll's Best-Kept Secret

3.95  ·  Rating Details ·  1,113 Ratings  ·  181 Reviews
Winner of the Oregon Book Award for General Nonfiction and Los Angeles Times bestseller

"It makes good music sound better."--Janet Maslin in The New York Times

"A fascinating look into the West Coast recording studio scene of the '60s and the inside story of the music you heard on the radio. If you always assumed the musicians you listened to were the same people y
...more
Hardcover, 292 pages
Published 2012 by Thomas Dunne Books
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Dale Stonehouse
Apr 26, 2012 Dale Stonehouse rated it really liked it
Having read the original magazine article (American Heritage, 2007) and watched the film documentary, I was expecting to enjoy this. Even though different people were highlighted to some extent than in the film, it was still just a very fun read, especially for someone who listened to nearly everything these musicians created. I was glad to see the author mention the studio musicians who worked in New York, Detroit, Memphis and Nashville because their work was and is significant. Drummer Hal Bla ...more
Douglas Hackney
Jun 08, 2012 Douglas Hackney rated it really liked it
I have a friend who was in school in Poland when the Soviet Union collapsed. Soon after, his school received new textbooks. In those new textbooks was a completely new and different retelling of history. Suddenly, overnight, everything that had happened in the 20th century was completely different. In one Orwellian moment, everything he knew was wrong.

If you grew up in the 60's, or have ever hummed along or danced to a pop or rock hit from that era, prepare for an equally jarring re-write of Hi
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Rick
Jun 16, 2012 Rick rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
Pedestrian bit of blown-up magazine journalism intended to celebrate a talented, rotating collection of studio musicians who played on many of the hit singles that emerged from Los Angeles in the 1960s and 1970s. Hartman means well but neither writes well nor benefits much from his research opportunities. There are tons of folks cited for interviews with the author but they seem only to have given him blurbs. Motown’s Funk Brothers played more inventively on more hits than The Wrecking Crew and ...more
Peter Krakow
Sep 19, 2012 Peter Krakow rated it it was ok
Even for a Baby-Boomer Music-Slut like myself, this was a little weak. The author offers up lots of gee-whiz and aw-shucks sentiments and stories, but fails to dig much deeper.

That being said, we're still talking about the studio musicians behind virtually every pop/rock record to come out of LA in the 60's including the Beach Boys, the Byrds, Sonny & Cher, Jan & Dean, the Righteous Brothers, Mama's and Papa's, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Simon and Garfunkle, the Monkees, Phil Spector,
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Alisa
Apr 22, 2017 Alisa rated it really liked it
Shelves: hollywood, music
Fascinating and detailed romp through the emergence of the American rock and roll music business in Los Angeles, arguably the epicenter of Pop/Top 40 hit machine. The Wrecking Crew were the unsung heroes of the emergence of rock. They were the studio musicians who brought the music to life and gave legs to countless hits by injecting their skill, creativity, and ear, adding dimension and heart to every recording. I got a kick out of learning how the business side was so unrefined in the beginnin ...more
Don Inman
Sep 07, 2015 Don Inman rated it it was amazing
Hi, my name is Don and I'm a music nerd. If you grew up listening to rock and roll in "The Sixties" (I don't like that term it is disingenuous) and you listened to 45 RPM records this is the book for you. It speaks to those of us who ran down to the corner record store on Saturday to buy the newest 45. But we were mislead by the record producers. Did I say mislead? I meant lied to. You see, when you listened to your records the producers wanted you to think that the same band you saw on stage, c ...more
Paul Pessolano
Jan 20, 2015 Paul Pessolano rated it really liked it
“The Wrecking Crew” by Kent Hartman, published by Thomas Dunne Books.

Category – Media/Music Publication Date – May 21, 2013

If you liked the music of the 60’s and 70’s this is a must read for you. If I told you that groups such as The Beach Boys, The Union Gap, The Monkees, and many more did not do the instrumentals on their recordings you would not believe me, believe me. The instrumentals for hundreds of recordings during this time was done by, “The Wrecking Crew”. The Wrecking Crew were musici
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Monica
Aug 26, 2012 Monica rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2012
I heard the author of this book, Kent Hartman, being interviewed on KQRS radio on the way to work one morning a few months ago and he was so interesting and so knowledgeable it made for a great interview. I made a mental note to read the book. I found a $2 copy at a used book sale (not bad, it was just published in Feb. 2012). It was a fun read with a lot of details about hit records primarily of the 1960's that were recorded in Los Angeles. I never realized that so many of the same musicians pl ...more
Nick
Jul 16, 2013 Nick rated it really liked it
Four stars because I think the book could have benefited from a stronger editorial hand. Still, this is a fun, thought-provoking read about a poorly understood period. It's about a period where rock music was becoming big business and also becoming "art", but where the recording process was too important to be entrusted to the nominal musicians. The good news was the great recorded legacy, and many of the "replaced" musicians had great careers anyway. And the rise of the rock band artiste/auteur ...more
Peg
Feb 24, 2017 Peg rated it it was amazing
The Wrecking Crew is a walk down a musical memory lane. Partially through the book I decided to read it near my computer where I pulled up the songs on YouTube. The experience of reading this book went from a history book to one, awesome entertaining event. I recommend this book to all the rock and roll fans. You will find yourself laughing, in tears and taken down memory lane all at the same time.
Jaq Greenspon
I like classic rock. I like the stuff with a good beat, fun lyrics and a makes me want to move. I also like the stuff with a deeper message which reflects the turbulent sixties. It's all great. And the bands whose names are attached to these songs are all well known, or at least passingly familiar, and never fail to bring a wave of nostalgia whenever one of the tunes shows up on the radio or in my iTunes shuffle.

Except for one thing... It wasn't always the band in question playing the instrumen
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Harold
Apr 29, 2012 Harold rated it really liked it
Shelves: music
I decided to write one review dealing with both “The Wrecking Crew” and “Hal Blaine and the Wrecking Crew” and post it at each book’s review slot.since both books were so closely related.

The recording industry, up until relatively recent times, supported an elite group of musicians who could create on cue, sight read music and, in short, deliver the goods in the time allowed. In large recording centers like NYC and LA this group could number several hundred musicians who jumped from studio to st
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Jeff Tucker
May 30, 2013 Jeff Tucker rated it really liked it
If you’ve ever listened to music by the Beach Boys, Jan & Dean, the Carpenters, the Mamas and the Papas, the Association, the Ronettes, Glen Campbell, the 5th Dimension, Simon & Garfunckel and many more, you were listening to music by the Wrecking Crew.
The Wrecking Crew was a loose knit group of professional studio musicians who could read a music score, play it through a couple times and then record it flawlessly in just a couple hours. The record producers in Los Angeles knew they coul
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Lauri
Jul 24, 2015 Lauri rated it liked it
Very insightful look at the people behind the people who gave us nearly the entire popular music catalog of the 60s and 70s. The Monkees were just the tip of the iceberg, and this book goes into incredible detail about the real backbone behind the music industry of that golden era.

Well worth a read, but I think it dragged a bit in some places. I also think that while I am a big fan of this period of music, it was not as ingrained in me as it was in my father and his generation, so it didn't hav
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Donna
Jun 21, 2015 Donna rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This was an interesting read. I have never heard of the 'wrecking crew' and found this bit of Americana info fun. I loved the way Rock and Roll was rooted into music history. This group of talented musicians helped that to happen. I wasn't expecting to like this as much as I did, but I am so glad I read this. I'm also glad that this didn't come across as classroom fodder.
Roger Greenawalt
May 05, 2012 Roger Greenawalt rated it liked it
Learned tons about the very small group of LA musicians who played on a preponderance of the great hit songs of the 60's. These are my people.
Writing stylistically is a little dry but the data is comprehensive.
Lisa
Oct 09, 2012 Lisa rated it liked it
Great stories, good research. Only wish he had spent longer with each individual; I got the sense there was much more out there to tell.
Chris
Jan 26, 2013 Chris rated it really liked it
Not very deep, but a fun read! I was constantly singing along in my head!
Laura
Apr 30, 2016 Laura rated it liked it
The movie was better. Get the documentary, also called The Wrecking Crew, made by the son of guitarist Tommy Tedesco. After all, don't you want to hear the songs?
Brian
Jan 29, 2017 Brian rated it really liked it
Pretty decent overview of the Los Angeles session musicians of the '60s through the mid-'70s. Focus on Glen Campbell, Hal Blaine and Carole Kaye. Most chapters are looks at certain sessions that produced a hit. Some happy stories of the unpaid contributions (except for the union pay rates) those musicians made. And some unhappy stories of musicians who didn't fare as well. A good book. As usual, I want more detail and insight but this is a start.
Sam Motes
Mar 17, 2017 Sam Motes rated it really liked it
I will never listen to Layla in the same way again.
G.
Jul 04, 2015 G. rated it it was amazing
As a music fanatic, it's been my great pleasure to know about The Wrecking Crew for quite a few years now, but certainly not in the early 60s when they were the music business' well-kept secret. That's what makes this such a wonderful and fascinating book, because now the world can know. The book completes the picture. The Wrecking Crew was a loose collection of some 30 or so expert studio musicians in LA who would be called in by the record companies to play on the records that became the hits, ...more
Millhows
Mar 02, 2017 Millhows rated it it was amazing
Great book. As a self-taught musician all I did throughout was imagine what could've been had I been born in the forties and lived LA. I mean, I'd be dead by now, but still. SO COOOL!
Rob
Oct 19, 2012 Rob rated it really liked it
The Wrecking Crew was a group of around two dozen session musicians who played on an astonishing number of pop records in the 1960's and early 1970's. It's apt to compare them to The Funk Brothers who did for Motown in Detroit what the Wrecking Crew did for various producers in Los Angeles.

Although Hartman seems to promise a biography of the players, I found the book to be much more about the general recording scene in Los Angeles, told through a series of 'vignettes' about various artists and
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Dave Schwensen
Mar 09, 2015 Dave Schwensen rated it liked it
The Wrecking Crew exposes everything we were led to believe about our favorite pop-rock stars from the 1960s. The rumors had always been around, that many of the Los Angeles groups didn’t play their own instruments on the records. It attempts to reveal what studio musicians played what instruments on what hit songs.
*
This is a book for anyone interested in the pop-rock music scene of the 1960’s and early 70’s. Each chapter is entertaining and easy to pick up after breaks to read other books. The
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Maria DiAgostino
Dec 29, 2016 Maria DiAgostino rated it really liked it
Fascinating read. So many names in it.
Kathryn
Mar 07, 2012 Kathryn rated it really liked it
While searching for a Monkees biography for a timely review, this title popped up in the recommended widgets. I had known for some time that the Monkees did not play in the studio for their first two albums, and it occurred to me other groups of the day would have made use of studio musicians. That the majority of the best-known songs recorded during rock and roll's first few decades had been performed by a core group left me wanting to know more, and author Hartman's meticulous biography of "Th ...more
Nick Greenwood
Sep 14, 2013 Nick Greenwood rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013-books
I've read many bios in my life add this one to the list. I rated this a five more for the content then the actual writing. Hartman isn't a flowery writer but he tries and that might be where some of his writing goes wrong. I didn't care so much for the beginning stories about Glen Campbell, Hal Blaine, and Carole Kaye's upbringing, they were too long. While some background on the musicians are needed and Hartman certainly did that for other musicians, those three are focused on almost too much a ...more
Rob Collier
Sep 24, 2015 Rob Collier rated it it was ok
The book is an easy read, and mildly entertaining, but extremely watered down. Hartman seems to have done a lot of interviews and research for this book, but he uses very little of it in the text. Rather than using direct quotes of the musicians reminiscing about particular sessions, he for some reason decided to narrate the story himself, painting a picture of the events the way he imagined them. There are absolutely no actual quotes from any of the musicians. All of the dialog is Hartman's own ...more
Martin Kohout
Jun 04, 2013 Martin Kohout rated it liked it
Pretty interesting stuff for any rock and roll fan, but the writing is pedestrian at best. The Wrecking Crew was an informal group of session musicians who played on just about every hit record that came out of L.A. in the Sixties and Seventies. Hartman focuses primarily on guitarist Glen Campbell, drummer Hal Blaine, and bassist Carol Kaye, one of the few female instrumentalists in rock and roll at the time, but touches on many others.

Phil Spector, the Monkees, the Mamas and the Papas, Frank Si
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