Monday, September 16, 2013

Museum of Idaho to screen 'Wrecking Crew' documentary Sept. 26 at Colonial

"The Wrecking Crew," a film by Denny Tedesco, will be shown Thursday, Sept. 26, at the Colonial Theater at 7 p.m. The director will answer questions after the screening, which is being presented by the Museum of Idaho, Chesbro Music and the Idaho Falls Arts Council. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for students with ID, and are available online at www.idahofallsarts.org.
You may never have heard of Tommy Tedesco, but it's a safe bet you've heard him.

Tedesco was probably the most prolific session guitarist of the '60s and '70s and a mainstay of a group nicknamed "The Wrecking Crew," the focus of a documentary about an aspect of musical history few people know about.

While the Monkees were pilloried for not playing on their own records, the fact is in Los Angeles no one did. Not the Beach Boys, The Association, Paul Revere and the Raiders, etc.

"The group could have made a good record, but it would have taken a day," said Mark Lindsay, lead singer of Paul Revere and the Raiders. "These guys could do it in an hour, and in those days time was money. A record that was made on Tuesday would be on the radio the following week."

The film is directed by Denny Tedesco, Tommy Tedesco's son, who started showing it at film festivals in 2008. Tedesco started the film in 1996, after his dad was diagnosed with cancer (he died the following year). "My wife calls it the most expensive home movie ever made," he said.

That's because he expanded the project to interview everyone who had been on the scene. Glen Campbell and Leon Russell went on to successful solo careers, but the others' names you probably won't recognize: Hal Blaine and Earl Palmer (drums); Carol Kaye and Joe Osborn (bass); Don Randi and Larry Knechtel (piano); Barney Kessel and Howard Roberts (guitar). Before the '70s, session musicians were seldom credited for their contributions.

Getting the interviews was the easy part, Tedesco said, compared to getting the music. He has paid hundreds of thousands to publishers, record companies and the musicians union for the 120 music cues, almost all of them very familiar. The rights to hit songs like "Be My Baby," "Strangers in the Night" and "A Taste of Honey" don't come cheap.


To get the story told, Tedesco, 52, has taken out loans, refinanced his house and maxed out his credit cards. When he asked one record company for permission to use a certain song, they told him it would cost $2.5 million. He estimates he needs $175,000 before the rights will be squared away and the film can released commercially. Until then, he's limited to showing it at film festivals and for non-profits like the Museum of Idaho.

Most people have no idea how many records the Wrecking Crew made. Hal Blaine guessed that he played on 6,000 sessions. Tedesco said he thinks his father kept the same pace. In addition to hit records, Wrecking Crew members played on movie soundtracks and TV shows. Tedesco's guitar can be heard on "Green Acres," "Batman," "Mission Impossible" and "M*A*S*H."

"It was three or four dates a day for years," he said. "You're the first call, and they know what you can do."

On the festival circuit, nationally and internationally, the film has done has done very well. "I love watching audiences get off on it," Tedesco said. "Even the ones that know about it are still blown away by it. The greatest compliments are from the people who've been dragged to a documentary."

For more information about the film, visit this link: www.wreckingcrewfilm.com.

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