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The Wrecking Crew: The Inside Story of Rock and Roll's Best-Kept Secret | [Kent Hartman]

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

If you were a fan of popular music in the 1960s and early '70s, you were a fan of the Wrecking Crew - whether you knew it or not. On hit record after hit record by everyone from the Byrds, the Beach Boys, and the Monkees to the Grass Roots, the 5th Dimension, Sonny & Cher, and Simon & Garfunkel, this collection of West Coast studio musicians from diverse backgrounds established themselves as the driving sound of pop music - sometimes over the objection of actual band members....
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Publisher's Summary

Audie Award Winner, History, 2013

If you were a fan of popular music in the 1960s and early '70s, you were a fan of the Wrecking Crew - whether you knew it or not.

On hit record after hit record, by everyone from the Byrds, the Beach Boys, and the Monkees to the Grass Roots, the 5th Dimension, Sonny & Cher, and Simon & Garfunkel, this collection of West Coast studio musicians from diverse backgrounds established themselves as the driving sound of pop music - sometimes over the objection of actual band members forced to make way for Wrecking Crew members.

Industry insider Kent Hartman tells the dramatic, definitive story of the musicians who forged a reputation throughout the business as the secret weapons behind the top recording stars. Mining invaluable interviews, the author follows the careers of such session masters as drummer Hal Blaine and keyboardist Larry Knechtel, as well as trailblazing bassist Carol Kaye, who went on to play in thousands of recording sessions. Listeners will discover the Wrecking Crew members who would forge careers in their own right, including Glen Campbell and Leon Russell, and learn of the relationship between the Crew and such legends as Phil Spector and Jimmy Webb.

Hartman also takes us inside the studio for the legendary sessions that gave us Pet Sounds, Bridge Over Troubled Water, and the rock classic “Layla”, which Wrecking Crew drummer Jim Gordon cowrote with Eric Clapton for Derek and the Dominos. And the author recounts priceless scenes, such as Mike Nesmith of the Monkees facing off with studio head Don Kirshner, Grass Roots lead guitarist (and future star of The Office) Creed Bratton getting fired from the group, and Michel Rubini unseating Frank Sinatra's pianist for the session in which the iconic singer improvised the hit-making ending to “Strangers in the Night”.

The Wrecking Crew tells the collective, behind-the-scenes stories of the artists who dominated Top-40 radio during the most exciting time in American popular culture.

©2012 Kent Hartman (P)2012 Tantor

What the Critics Say

"[The Wrecking Crew] has the...potent excitement of a collection of greatest hits. It makes good music sound better." (Janet Maslin, The New York Times)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (150 )
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4.1 (139 )
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3 star
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2 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Diana Haynes Vancouver, British Columbia Canada 07-30-12
    Diana Haynes Vancouver, British Columbia Canada 07-30-12 Member Since 2000
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fascinating Story Well Told"
    What made the experience of listening to The Wrecking Crew the most enjoyable?

    Bought this book after watching the documentary and found that it contains many more stories and interesting details than the documentary (which was equally good). Who knew?


    What other book might you compare The Wrecking Crew to and why?

    I can't think of another book to compare this to - it is unique.


    What about Dan John Miller???s performance did you like?

    Good voice well paced.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I wish.


    Any additional comments?

    Anyone who likes rock and roll would like this book.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lee Blue Anchor, NJ, United States 08-29-12
    Lee Blue Anchor, NJ, United States 08-29-12 Member Since 2007
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    "Familiar names to any 70's rock fan"

    The Beach Boys were always a mystery to me. I have gone to see them several times, each time they were worse than the last. The voices intermittently hit the mark, but the musicianship would embarrass a 3rd grade band. I wondered how the same people who recorded Pet Sounds could be in front of me with a minimal knowledge of their instruments. Now I know.
    This book is good.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steven Bethlehem, GA, United States 09-17-12
    Steven Bethlehem, GA, United States 09-17-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Will change the way you listen to music"

    I am a fan of the music from the 60's and the 70's, heck truth told there is just about no music I do not enjoy. So as to not give the "plot Away" too badly it tells the history of how the in studio music was recorded during the heyday of Rock and roll. Touches on the Beach Boys, Phil Spector and an interesting story about Glenn Campbell. it's a must read if you enjoy the ins and outs of Rock and Roll.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brett Charlotte, NC, United States 04-26-14
    Brett Charlotte, NC, United States 04-26-14 Member Since 2007

    “Be awesome! Be a book nut!” — Dr. Seuss

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    "A little corny but OK."

    This book reminded me of the Casey Kasem Top 40 count down. In Casey's count down he would introduce an up coming song with a cheesy story - the small town kid that finally made it big or the girl that defied the odds and finally launched a hit after so many rejections. The sappy stories never lasted long and a good song always followed so they were palatable. This book, unfortunately, has none of those redeeming qualities, it is not completely unentertaining, however - especially if you know and like the music described.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Petry Santa Barbara, CA USA 06-25-13
    David Petry Santa Barbara, CA USA 06-25-13 Member Since 2011
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    "A bit sing-songy"

    Very interesting material, but written and performed as though for sixth graders. A list of these musicians' works would be a welcome addition.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Russell Bernard Salt Lake City, Utah United States 03-12-13
    Russell Bernard Salt Lake City, Utah United States 03-12-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Fasinating history of 60 and 70 rock'n roll"
    What made the experience of listening to The Wrecking Crew the most enjoyable?

    The information of the different bands was fascinating and a real eye opener to the music business in the 60's and 70's. Interesting to find out who controlled the business and the caliber of musicians at that time.


    What other book might you compare The Wrecking Crew to and why?

    Me the Mob and the music by Tommy James although a different story, studio muscicians played a huge roll in the outcome of the music.


    Have you listened to any of Dan John Miller’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I will view all my rock idols differently after listening to this book. Especially the Beach Boys.


    Any additional comments?

    Great listen for anyone interested in rock history. I wish I could see the film that was made about the same group of musicians. Check out Carol Kaye on utube.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A. Romero Western Springs, Illinois, USA 08-08-14
    A. Romero Western Springs, Illinois, USA 08-08-14 Member Since 2014

    Book Lover

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    "For Those Who Love Hits of the 60's and 70's"
    If you could sum up The Wrecking Crew in three words, what would they be?

    Interesting, interesting, interesting...


    What did you like best about this story?

    Like many others, I thought bands played their instruments on their recordings. Clearly, they didn't. These musicians are truly the unsung magicians who had different technology than today. Their humble stories are amazing.


    What does Dan John Miller bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    History of many, many songs and those who played on the records.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    Hard to believe nobody knew about this...


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patrick King Exeter, NH 04-29-14
    Patrick King Exeter, NH 04-29-14 Member Since 2009
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    "Left Guessing"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    It seems as though Kent Hartman learned to write by composing blurbs for paperbacks. His alliterative metaphors double up on each other. This "look at me" style of writing is really annoying especially when you hear it read aloud. Just one typical example, he refers to Phil Spector as "The elfin emperor." Perhaps that doesn't sound like a big deal but four or five of these things per page it really begins to grate on the listener after a while.

    Starting a book about several disparate people describing events that seemed important to them was I though very hokey and not at all enlightening: Hal Blaine caught in a circus fire, Glenn Campbell getting a whipping... come on!

    The other thing is when you're writing a book about musicians who do you imagine is going to buy it and read it? People who are very interested in music and how musicians develop their chops, that's who and that's what they want to know. Most of us who read these books have inadvertently done as much research on this subject as the author has. Therefore we expect the author to know that Bertha Spector until the day she died referred to her son by his REAL name, Harvey, NEVER as Phil. If I know that and Mr. Hartman doesn't, what else did he get wrong? My guess is plenty.

    So much is glossed over. He tells a very interesting story about how Don Peake conned his way into an important gig by being able to play Be Bop A Lula, one of three songs he knew on guitar. The thing is, after it was discovered that he really couldn't play guitar, he was kept on and the other band members PAID FOR HIS GUITAR LESSONS! Hartman acts as though this is typical musician behavior. It is not. Why did they do this for Peake? This is the story we'd like to know and he writes as though it was self-explanatory. There are many of these instances in this book.


    If you’ve listened to books by Kent Hartman before, how does this one compare?

    As far as I know The Wrecking Crew is the only book Kent Hartman has ever written.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    I thought the tragic story of Jim Gordon was well-told and of great interest.

    I thought the angst of the Monkeys, the Byrds, etc not being allowed to play their own instruments on recordings attributed to them was interesting and ironic. They were getting paid, weren't they? Would they rather drive a taxi?

    Mr. Hartman seems to think that fans were fooled by these prefabricated groups. We were not. One of the most impressive things about the Beatles was that they played their own instruments. We were used to "singing" groups and the Beach Boys, for example, was a singing group. When they became competitive with the Beatles and started claiming they too played their own instruments, they fooled no one. Many of us knew the names, Glenn Campbell, Hal Blaine, Barney Kessel, James Burton etc. If they were a 'secret,' they were a poorly kept secret.


    Do you think The Wrecking Crew needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    There is much that is interesting in The Wrecking Crew. There is a continent of information however that is glossed over and left out. The evolution of Barney Kessel is never described nor his mentoring of young Phil Spector. Mac Rebennack I don't think is mentioned once. Leon Russell is glossed over. James Burton, Nino Tempo are footnotes. Much more could be written on this subject in greater detail.

    The Swamp Birds are never mentioned as such. Steve Cropper and Duane Allman are name drops.


    Any additional comments?

    More in-depth Audible books on this subject are, Mick Brown's Tearing Down the Wall of Sound, Tommy James and Martin Fitzpatrick's Me, The Mob and the Music, Life by Keith Richards, and Peter Ames Carlin's Bruce.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gudrun Fort Resolution, Northwest Territories, Canada 04-18-14
    Gudrun Fort Resolution, Northwest Territories, Canada 04-18-14 Member Since 2011

    I'm open to any book as long as it is true to itself.

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    "The subject in this book is absolutely fascinating"

    Completely compelling, addictive material in this book. The stories behind the music and musicians is utterly fascinating. The writing is not great, but the subject matter speaks for itself. This has changed my view of the music industry forever.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dubi New York, NY, United States 03-31-14
    Dubi New York, NY, United States 03-31-14 Member Since 2011

    People say I resemble my dog (and vice-versa). He can hear sounds I can't hear, but I'm the one who listens to audiobooks.

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    "Juke Box Documentary"
    Would you listen to The Wrecking Crew again? Why?

    Like many of the songs that are described in the book, The Wrecking Crew may be worth listening to again. However, I think the next step is to see the film documentary. Though it may lack the detail of the book, it would have the added benefit of including snippets of the songs and showing us the faces of the musicians who are the subject of the book.

    Actually, I found that it was the songs that held this true life story together, and the author must have felt so as well, organizing the chapters by song rather than my personality. When your subjects are anonymous studio musicians who are by necessity devoid of the egomania that drives their front men, their biographical back stories, while certainly interesting, do not burn down any barns.

    But the songs they created -- the stories behind how these huge hits of the 60s and 70s came together in surprising ways -- is the real attraction here, especially for people like me who grew up on those songs.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Wrecking Crew?

    If you consider my first name, one of the most interesting stories is how they came up with the coda to Strangers in the Night. I have had to live with that my whole life. I never knew until now how Frank Sinatra ended up improvising that fade out on the third take, and how the producer decided to include it in the version that was ultimately released.

    And if you ever danced the limbo at a party, you might be surprised to hear the story of how the famous limbo song came to be -- how it was written, what the songwriter called it, and how it affected him. This book is full of those types of gems.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    The book's tag line is "The Inside Story of Rock and Roll's Best Kept Secret". The poster for the movie version, made by the son of one of the musicians central to The Wrecking Crew, has a full paragraph backing up the title. But since the songs are the real stars of this story, I'd tag the movie with something like "The Inside Story Behind Your Favorite Songs." That doesn't shortchange the musicians who people that inside story, but it highlights the work product which is their lasting legacy.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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