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R.I.P. ‘Wrecking Crew’ Drummer Hal Blaine

Legendary drummer Hal Blaine, died yesterday (March 11th) at age 90. Blaine, who was the heart and soul of the L.A.’s recording scene in the 1960’s and ’70s performed on over 35,000 records, including 38 Number One hits. Amazingly, between 1966 and 1971 Hal Blaine drummed on six consecutive Grammy Award Record Of The Year winners between 1966 and 1971.

Blaine was born Harold Simon Belsky in Hoylake, Massachusetts on February 5th, 1929, and moved to Southern California when he was 14-years-old.

The Facebook post that announced Blaine’s passing read:

Hal Blaine — loving father of Michelle Blaine; grandfather of Anthony, Josh, Aaron, Whitney, Tempest, Ever, and Lyryk; and inspiration to countless friends, fans and musicians — has passed on today, March 11th, 2019 at the age of 90. May he rest forever on 2 and 4. The family appreciates your outpouring of support and prayers that have been extended to Hal from around the world, and respectfully request privacy in this time of great mourning. No further details will be released at this time.

Brian Wilson, who chose Hal Blaine to drum on countless Beach Boys sessions — including the majority of the Pet Sounds and Smile albums — posted on Facebook: “I’m so sad, I don’t know what to say. Hal Blaine was such a great musician and friend that I can’t put it into words. Hal taught me a lot, and he had so much to do with our success – he was the greatest drummer ever. We also laughed an awful lot. Hal, we love you and our memories will last forever. Love, Brian”

Ringo Starr tweeted: “God bless Hal Blaine peace and love to all his family Goodbye Hal an incredible musician.”

Along with Hal Blaine, the core group of “The Wrecking Crew,” featured guitarists Barney Kessel, Glen Campbell, and Tommy Tedesco; bassists Carole Kaye, Ray Pohlman, and Lyle Ritz; keyboardists Don Randi and Larry Knechtel, who later joined Bread; percussionist Julius Wechter, and saxophonists Steve Douglas and Jay Migliori.

Hal Blaine is — to date — the only member of the “Wrecking Crew” to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the “sideman” category. In 2018, Blaine received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Hal Blaine’s drums will always be synonymous with Phil Spector‘s legendary “Wall Of Sound.” Blaine explained to Pulse that Spector pushed Blaine to carve his own path when developing his own parts for the tracking dates: “All of a sudden, I just became Phil Spector’s drummer. He loved what I did, I had carte blanche — ‘Whatever you wanna do.’ Y’know, when I wanted to put jingle bells on a pop song, everybody said, ‘This is not a Christmas song!’ I said, ‘Yeah, but it just makes it feel good. It just goes.’ And Phil, Phillip loved that stuff, said, ‘Do it.’ Castanets — ‘do it.’ ‘I know it’s not a Spanish song’ — ‘Do it.’ Shaker cans, maracas — ‘Do it.'”

Hal Blaine spoke to Pulse about how specific Brian Wilson became upon recording the Beach Boys’ long unreleased 1967 Smile album: “He heard something at home, he drove to the studio. He wants three, four, six, eight bars. He wanted to hear it, once he heard it — ‘Okay, I’m going. That’s enough.’ For us, it was amazing. We never saw this with other producers. They said, ‘Here’s the song’ — we played it. With Brian, he’d say, ‘Here’s the intro.'”

Number One hits featuring Hal Blaine on drums:

“Johnny Angel” – Shelley Fabares
“He’s A Rebel” – The Crystals
“Surf City” – Jan & Dean
“I Get Around” – The Beach Boys
“Everybody Loves Somebody” – Dean Martin
“Ringo” – Lorne Greene
“This Diamond Ring” – Gary Lewis & The Playboys
“Help Me, Rhonda” – The Beach Boys
“Mr Tambourine Man” – The Byrds
“Eve of Destruction” – Barry McGuire
“My Love” – Petula Clark
“These Boots Are Made For Walkin'” – Nancy Sinatra
“Monday Monday” – The Mamas & The Papas
“Strangers In The Night” – Frank Sinatra
“Poor Side Of Town” – Johnny Rivers
“Good Vibrations” – The Beach Boys
“Somethin’ Stupid” – Frank & Nancy Sinatra
“The Happening” – The Supremes
“Windy” – The Association
“Mrs. Robinson” – Simon & Garfunkel
“Dizzy” – Tommy Roe
“Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In” – The 5th Dimension
“Love Theme from Romeo And Juliet” – Henry Mancini
“Wedding Bell Blues” – The 5th Dimension
“Bridge Over Troubled Water” – Simon & Garfunkel
“(They Long to Be) Close To You” – The Carpenters
“Cracklin’ Rosie” – Neil Diamond
“I Think I Love You” – The Partridge Family
“Indian Reservation” – The Raiders
“Song Sung Blue” – Neil Diamond
“Half Breed” – Cher
“Annie’s Song” – John Denver
“Top Of The World” – The Carpenters
“The Way We Were” – Barbra Streisand
“Thank God I’m A Country Boy” – John Denver
“Love Will Keep Us Together” – The Captain & Tennille
“I’m Sorry”/”Calypso” – John Denver
“Theme from Mahogany (Do You Know Where You’re Going To)” – Diana Ross

CHECK IT OUT: A partial list of recordings featuring Hal Blaine: