The best drummer you ever heard but never saw passes away
You may not know who Hal Blaine is, but if you're a fan of sixties and seventies music, you've certainly heard his work. I had no idea who he was back when I interviewed him for WYSP, but after looking at the extensive resume of songs he played on, an hour wasn't enough to speak with him. I was a kid in a hit factory talking to the man who made them and he was so humble that you'd never know it.
Blaine, who performed on such songs as; Frank Sinatra's "Strangers in the Night," or Simon and Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water." He was also on such albums as The Beach Boys "Pet Sounds," and worked with countless artists, including Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and John Lennon. He passed away of natural causes at the age of 90.
It was Hal Blaine who laid down the iconic opening of the Ronnettes "Be My Baby," as well as several other Phil Spector songs.
As a member of the Los Angeles based studio band "The Wrecking Crew," which also featured keyboard player Leon Russell, bassist Carol Kaye and guitarist Tommy Tedesco, Blaine may have been the most versatile drummer of all time. He played on 40 No. 1 hits and 150 top 10 songs. Blaine also played on eight songs that won the Grammy for "Record of the Year," including Sinatra's "Strangers In the Night" and Simon & Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water." Back in those days, it was "The Wrecking Crew" that played the hits we all know in the studio, while the bands themselves would tour the songs, if in fact they actually went out and played.
All in all Blaine, believes he's played on about 6,000 songs and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in 2000.
The tributes have been coming from all other the rock world from people like Brian Wilson and Ringo Starr. Former E Street drummer Vini "Mad Dog" Lopez texted me and said, "Hal Blaine raised the Beat Bar for every Drummer on the earth. So many great licks by him that can never be forgotten. RIP."
When you think of all the songs he played on and all the glory he never got you have to believe that for Hal Blaine it was truly only about the music. They are very few like him and his contribution will never be forgotten.
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