Special Sub-Topic: Session Musicians
|What nickname was given to the hired session musicians who played on most of Motown's hits in the 1960's?|
The Funk Brothers. The story of the Funk Brothers is told in the award-winning documentary "Standing in the Shadows of Motown." Those gentlemen played on literally hundreds of Top Ten singles, but most people don't even know their names.
|Who played the drums on the Beatles first single, "Love Me Do"?|
Andy White. Ringo Starr tapped on a tambourine, but session drummer Andy White played the drums on the Beatles' first single.
|Drummer Hal Blaine was the leader of a team of session musicians who played on hundreds of the biggest hits of the 1960's. What was this team called?|
The Wrecking Crew. Hal Blaine and the Wrecking Crew played for artists of every imaginable genre, from Frank Sinatra to Elvis Presley to the Byrds to the Partridge Family to John Denver. And while Micky Dolenz pretended to play the drums on the TV sitcom "The Monkees", Blaine was usually the one playing the drums on the Monkees' records.
|What veteran session guitarist replaced Brian Wilson on the Beach Boys' 1965 tour?|
Glen Campbell. Glen Campbell was a steady member of the Wrecking Crew for several years, and had played on several Beach Boys records before becoming a popular recording artist in his own right. As it turned out, Campbell disliked being a Beach Boy, and didn't stay with the band long.
|One of the most capable and respected session bass guitarists of all time had to beg off playing on two of the tracks on Frank Zappa's "Freak Out" album, because the lyrics were so outrageously ofensive. Who was this sensitive session musician?|
Carol Kaye. Carol Kaye was a superb guitarist who became a top-notch session bassist. She played on Frank Zappa's first two albums, but was scandalized by some of the lyrics (she had young children at home, at the time), and declined to play on a few tracks. "I know it sounds prudish," she says, "but most of us were, back then." Surprisingly, she says Zappa was very understanding and good-natured about her qualms.
|What veteran session guitarist played on both Sam & Dave's Sixties hit "Soul Man" and the Blues Brothers' Seventies remake? |
Steve Cropper. On both the Sam & Dave version and the Blues Brothers' cover, the singer shouts out "Play it, Steve," to Mr. Cropper, who was once a member of Booker T. and the MGs.
|Drummer Dennis Wilson was furious about not getting to play on Beach Boys records, and once beat session drummer Hal Blaine into unconsciousness during the "Pet Sounds" sessions.|
False. Dennis liked and respected Blaine, and didn't mind being kept off Beach Boys records. Playing in the studio can be a tedious, tiresome, repetitious process, especially when you're working for a neurotic perfectionist like Brian Wilson, so Dennis was delighted to let Hal Blaine do the grunt work of making records. That left Dennis free to go surfing, ride his motorcycle, and chase girls during the day. Dennis had a lot more fun and made a lot more money playing at live concerts. Interestingly, when Dennis finally made his own solo album, "Pacific Blue", he hired Hal Blaine to play the drums!
|Billy Preston was a top session keyboard player for many years, before resurfacing as a singer and synthesizer wizard in the 1970's. He played regularly with the Beatles, and was one of many men given the nickname "the Fifth Beatle". Which of the following hits was released under the name "The Beatles With Billy Preston", rather than simply "The Beatles"?|
Get Back. In the documentary "Let It Be", if you look very closely, you'll see Billy Preston playing keyboards for the Beatles during their famous impromptu rooftop concert.
|What bald, mustachioed bass guitarist played on Alice Cooper's "Welcome to My Nightmare", John Lennon's "Double Fantasy", Peter Gabriel's "Security", Pink Floyd's "A Momentary Lapse of Reason", and "Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman & Howe"?|
Tony Levin. In addition to his session work, Levin has been a steady member of King Crimson since the early 1980's. He doesn't always play the bass, any more- he often plays "the stick", an odd-looking instrument that's essentially half guitar and half bass guitar.
Tony has also played regularly with Paul Simon, and appeared in Simon's movie, "One Trick Pony".
|Which British band mocked professional studio musicians in the song "Session Man"?|
The Kinks. "He's not paid to think, just play," sang Ray Davies. Davies' seeming animosity toward session men may have been inpired by Led Zeppelin leader Jimmy Page. Page, who'd been one of England's top session guitarists, claimed credit for guitar solos on Kinks records that Ray insists were actually played by his brother Dave.
|Ray Cooper is one of Britain's top session musicians. What's his specialty?|
percussion. Ray is the gentleman tapping the tambourine behind Eric Clapton, in Slowhand's famed MTV "Unplugged" show.
|For over four decades, if a recording artist needed the best harmonica player in the business, what Belgian session man would he try to hire?|
Toots Thielemans. Believe it or not, Toots also made a good living as a session whistler! He whistled the theme music in all the commercials for Old Spice cologne.
|Most of the guitar work on Simon & Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubles Water" album was done by the father of a current country music diva. Who was this session guitarist?|
Fred Carter, Deana Carter's dad. Fred Carter Jr. played guitar for numerous pop and country artists. Willie Nelson hired Fred Carter often, and gave Deana her first big break by adding her to the Farm Aid concert lineup before she even had a recording contract.
|The use of session musicians led to the breakup of Herman's Hermits.|
True. Peter Noone says that he sang on all of Herman's Hermits' records, but that the rest of the band was invariably replaced by session men like Jimmy Page. This led to hard feelings, resentment and jealousy that, Noone says, eventually led to the band's breakup.
|Which is the primary reason that so many real band members were replaced by hired session musicians, during the 1960's? |
Record companies wanted songs recorded quickly.. Record companies believed that a song only had a short window of opportunity to become a hit, so they wanted to get songs recorded and shipped out to record stores as fast as possible. Professional session musicians could get a song recorded in one or two takes, whereas a new band that hadn't worked in a studio before might take days or weeks to get their licks recorded correctly.
Most rock bands start out playing in bars, night clubs and concert halls, where it's fine to be loud and sloppy. In a recording studio, however, subtlety and restraint are called for. With time and experience, rockers can learn those skills, but in the 1960's, most record companies didn't want to wait that long. It was easier to hire session men, who'd get the recording done quickly. The sooner the record was made, the sooner it could be sold, and the sooner the band could go out on tour promoting it.
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