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

3.83 of 5 stars 3.83  ·  rating details  ·  691 ratings  ·  141 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 yo
ebook, 304 pages
Published February 14th 2012 by Thomas Dunne Books (first published January 1st 2012)
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Dale Stonehouse
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
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
Peter Krakow
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,
Paul Pessolano
“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
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
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
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
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
Jeff Tucker
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
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
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.
For anyone who was swept up in mainstream music of the '60s-mid '70s, this is an enjoyable and informative read. I doubt many of us did know that a fluid group of immensely talented individuals were responsible for the success and popularity of the majority of hit songs that came over the airwaves. It was a very particular time in technology - the period that began when just about everyone had a portable radio (which caused a major surge in hunger for pop songs) and ended when the ability to mul ...more
Dave Schwensen
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
I was almost put off by the unabashed fandom exhibited by the author in the introduction, but I stuck with it and was glad that I did because the stories contained within were terrific portraits of the era, not just in LA but in showbiz across the country. The book initially focuses on Glen Campbell, Carol Kaye and Hal Blaine but expands its scope to include many other musicians, plus a few closely associated writers and producers. Although equally known for playing on classic Beach Boys songs, ...more
Ever since I was a teenager, I've loved 50s and 60s music, and pop music history in general, so I had a lot of fun reading this book and re-listening to all the songs featured in it. Before reading, I guess I had some sense that many 60s musical acts were "fronts," just the voices and public face of the band. But I had no idea how extensively the Wrecking Crew, this rotating cast of 20 or so session musicians, were featured on all the pop music coming out of Los Angeles at that time. Surprisingl ...more
I just listened to my little transistor radio. I didn't usually know the artists who made the songs, and I certainly didn't know that they weren't even playing their instruments on the recordings. Turns out that recording studios worked in three-hour blocks, and if they went overtime, the union required time-and-a-half. Producers literally couldn't afford mistakes, so they hired the Usual Suspects (including Glen Campbell and Leon Russell) to lay down the tracks. The vocals mostly came from the ...more
Roger Greenawalt
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.
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.
Not very deep, but a fun read! I was constantly singing along in my head!

The Wrecking Crew was a group of session musicians in LA. They played in the studio on some of the biggest songs to hit airwaves. I had no idea that Glen Campbell started playing guitar with this group. And what about Carol Kaye - a kick ass female bass player!
The reader is inundated with names of musicians, both the relatively unknown and the well known. I admit there were several times that I had to backtrack to figure out who was who. However, it was still very interesting and a good preview
Steven Cady
Great book of anecdotes concerning the studio musicians of LA in the 60's, many refugees from the Midwest moving to the promised land and finding success and a new identity like Leon Russell. Since the arrangements of pop music were often simple, these musicians contributed much to the sound of the resulting records. Highlights the career slides of Spector and Wilson but most stories are positive. Another piece in the puzzle of who actually produced all of the great music from this time period.
Nick Greenwood
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
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
Mary Lou
The Wrecking Crew by Kent Hartman describes the evolution of rock and roll and the record industry, revealing behind the scenes data known to folks in the business but kept secret from the general public. In short, skilled musicians who were unknown outside recording studios and the music industry played many songs for which stars earned the fame.

Key individuals are Glen Campbell, Carol Kaye, Hal Blaine, Billy Strange, and Bill Pittman, although there are many others. Recording artists whose s
This was another baby boomer trip down memory lane. The Wrecking Crew recounts the contributions of a legendary but behind-the-scenes cadre of California studio musicians who were the true musicians behind many of the rock'n'roll hits of the 1960s and 1979s, not only for famously manufactured groups like The Monkees, but also for the Byrds, the Beach Boys, and many of the Phil Spector produced "wall of sound" hits. At first I was a little skeptical of the novelistic style that recreated not only ...more
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
Martin Kohout
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
Marc Ballon
This very interesting and well-written book about a talented group of LA studio musicians from the 60s and 70s called "The Wrecking Crew" contained lots of entertaining anecdotes. However, the Wrecking Crew players oftne seem like sidemen in their own book. In fact, the so-called Wrecking Crew seems more like an authoir's construct more than anything else. Unlike Motown's Funk Brothers or Stax houseband, Booter T. and the MGs, the Wrecking Crew lacked cohesion and a true identity.
Loved it!! If you are a music fan of the 60's and 70's and happened to see the current movie "Wrecking Crew" you will love this.

The movie has some of the interviews but this is really in depth and not associated with the movie other than the same subject matter and group of musicians who made up the Wrecking Crew.

It is also very well written and researched - hard to put down and the stories of the individuals just jumps out at you.
Very informative and entertaining. Sometimes the writing style is irritatingly colloquial. I think he was trying to echo the tone of the interviewees, but it was distracting. Also a bit portentious at times ("Little did he know that on that same day, only a few miles away....") But overall it's an interesting and very well researched book. Made me want to stay home and play old records, now that I know the Wrecking Crew played on most of them!
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