Hal Blaine  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Hal Blaine (born Harold Simon Belsky; February 5, 1929 – March 11, 2019) was an American drummer and session musician. Blaine is most remembered for his work with The Wrecking Crew, a group of musicians who recorded prolifically in the Los Angeles music scene and played behind a large number of musicians in the 1960s and 1970s.

Some of the more notable records he played on include the Ronettes' single "Be My Baby" (1963) and the Beach Boys' album Pet Sounds (1966).

Of his solo work, Psychedelic Percussion (1967) is of note.

Contents

Biography

Born in Holyoke, Massachusetts, Blaine moved with his family to California in 1943. He played as part of Count Basie's big band and toured with Patti Page and Tommy Sands before taking up session work. Unlike many of his jazz contemporaries, he enjoyed playing rock and roll and started playing on many such sessions during the 1950s. Afterwards, he became one of the key players in Phil Spector's de facto house band, later known as "The Wrecking Crew". Blaine popularized the name in his 1990 memoir, Hal Blaine and the Wrecking Crew. Their contributions to so many hit recordings went largely unnoticed until the memoir's publication and the attention that followed.

From the 1980s onwards, Blaine played less session work as computers and electronics began to be used in studios, and producers began to bring in younger players. He kept busy recording advertising jingles for a number of years before semi-retiring from performing. In 2000, he was among the inaugural "sidemen" inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and in 2018 he received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Grammy Awards

A little known Grammy Awards record is held by Blaine who played on 6 consecutive Record of the Year winners:

#1 hits

Additional facts

Blaine recorded an all-instrumental album in the 1960s entitled Psychedelic Percussion. Its 12 tracks each represented one month of the year.

In 1965 the Beach Boys and Dean Torrence of Jan and Dean recorded an off-the-cuff cover version of The Regents' 1961 hit song, "Barbara Ann." It was released as a 45 rpm single and on the Beach Boys Party LP in 1965. During the hectic instrumental break, one of the singers can be heard shouting off-mike, "It's Hal and His Famous Ashtrays!". This is a reference to Blaine, who was playing percussion at the session, and who accompanied this improvised song by drumming on a pair of overturned glass ashtrays.

Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson let Hal Blaine do a large amount of the drumming on Beach Boys recordings. Wilson even hired Blaine to play the drums on a few tracks on his own solo album - a record on which Wilson primarily played the piano. 'I made $50 an hour playing Beach Boys songs in the studio - Dennis made $50,000 a week playing them in concert', said Blaine.

Discography




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Hal Blaine" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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