Hal Blaine’s website is entitled, “10 of your favorite drummers”, and it’s true: when the Beatles shifted the attention and affection of the baby-boomer generation away from solo acts with backup musicians and toward self-contained bands of 4 or 5 permanent members, there weren’t always enough bands of fresh-faced American teenagers to fill the demand.
Some garage bands rose to stardom arguably before they were ready; some bands were simply assembled from ranks of telegenic, but not necessarily talented, candidates.
So what’s a record company to do when they want a clean-sounding record in a hurry? Enter the Wrecking Crew, an elite group of Los Angeles-based studio musicians who could turn out great sounding rock and roll records, and all on the first take. Sometimes several albums in a single day.
The ringleader of this “crew” was Hal Blaine, and by virtue of having been the studio drummer who recorded so many of American rock and roll’s greatest hits, it makes sense that he could indeed be ten of your favorite drummers. —think of the Beach Boys, the Monkees, the Mamas and the Papas, the Byrds, Sonny and Cher, the Carpenters, the Partridge Family, Paul Revere and the Raiders, Gary Lewis and the Playboys, and both Frank and Nancy Sinatra. On drums for all: Hal Blaine.
Hal is likely the most widely-heard and influential creator of what we all think of, when we imagine the beat of American popular music. We should expect to hear his work on Drummeradio.
What I didn’t expect was the stunning pedigree of the seven songs I asked him to choose for the show—each of the seven is a Grammy-winning “Song of the Year”, and six of these songs won the award on six consecutive years. Hal is the drummer on all of them; no other musician comes close to this record.
Listen to the Hal Blaine Podcast
Hal Blaine Playlist
Drums and percussion on all songs: Hal Blaine
A Taste of Honey — Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass
Album: Whipped Cream and Other Delights, 1964
Strangers in the Night — Frank Sinatra
Album: Strangers in the Night, 1966
Up, Up and Away — The 5th Dimension
Album: Up, Up and Away, 1967
Mrs. Robinson — Simon & Garfunkel
Album: Bookends, 1968
Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In — The 5th Dimension
Album: The Age of Aquarius 1969
Bridge over Troubled Water — Simon & Garfunkel
Album: Bridge over Troubled Water, 1970
Love Will Keep Us Together — Captain and Tenille
Album: Love Will Keep Us Together, 1975
Macarthur Park — Richard Harris
Album: A Tramp Shining, 1968
A Little Less Conversation (Junkie XL/JXL version) — Elvis Presley/ Junkie XL
Album: Elv1s and JXL: A Broadcast from the Computer Hell Cabin, 2002)