Hal Blaine: Every No. 1 Hit The Wrecking Crew Drummer Played On

Hal Blaine could have been one essentially the most prolific session drummers all time — however above all else, he thought-about himself an “accompanist.” When recording Simon and Garfunkel’s signature music, “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” he had a unique plan: drop the sticks altogether.

“For some motive, I pictured a troubled man in chains,” he told L.A. Record in 2009. Instead approximating this on the package, he walked out to his automobile, pulled out tire chains and kneeled on the studio ground. (“Drag on one, smack on two, drag on three, smack on 4,” he remembered telling himself.)


This ironclad devotion to serving the music flies within the face technical drumming — however cemented Blaine in widespread music eternally. The legendary session man and Wrecking Crew drummer passed away on Monday, (March 11). He was 90.

Blaine began out as a teenage jazz drummer within the faculty Gene Krupa earlier than indulging his love rock ‘n roll — and turning into a seasoned professional by his twenties. And studying his résumé is like scanning 20th century music in miniature. Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and Sam Cooke all made hits along with his really feel for the groove and large thwack on the snare.

When a producer would doubt a band’s drummer might lower it, Blaine was a telephone name away. When Terry Melcher wasn’t positive a still-green Byrds might nail their very own model “Mr. Tambourine Man,” he introduced in Blaine in lieu their drummer, Michael Clark. On Beach Boys classics like “California Girls,” “Surfin’ U.S.A.” and “Good Vibrations,” the drummer isn’t authentic member Dennis Wilson, however Blaine.

This drew a spread reactions from the drum legends. By Blaine’s telling, Clark was “the one man who was somewhat pissed”; in the meantime, Wilson was elated. “He was thrilled that I used to be making Beach Boy information whereas he was out browsing or using his bike,” chuckled Blaine.

He wasn’t simply regular or reliable; he was capable of spin slip-ups into gold. His most iconic beat, for the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby,” was the consequence a contented accident; when he hit the snare on the 4 fairly than the two and the four, producer Phil Spector stopped him chilly — that’s the one. That th-th-thump turned the heartbeat the 1960s.

In the 1980s, Blaine’s work dried up — as gated sounds and proto-digital machines outmoded flesh-and-blood gamers. He ultimately stepped away from the package and have become a safety guard in Arizona. Later, he lost his Hollywood Hills residence and a wall 175 gold information in a divorce settlement. Still, he penned a memoir, 1990’s Hal Blaine and the Wrecking Crew — and remained a legend to pop, rock and soul followers who tuned into his singular swing.

Blaine claimed to have recorded four,000 tracks — and 39 these shot to the highest the Hot 100. In honor the late Blaine’s legacy within the studio and the Billboard charts, right here’s a crash course on every No. 1 hit he performed on.


The Crystals, “He’s a Rebel” (1962)

This ode to a Marlon Brando kind makes hay “Johnny Angel”; as a substitute using on frilly harp plucks, this Crystals basic sounds powerful, driving and streetwise. Blaine offers this Wild One-flavored hit the horsepower it wants.

Shelley Fabares, “Johnny Angel” (1962)

“He’s acquired one thing that I can’t resist/ But he doesn’t even know that I exiiiiist!” Not precisely love poetry worthy Neruda, however this fluffy single — written by Lyn Duddy and Laurie Loman and recorded by Elvis Presley co-star Fabares — vaulted to No. 1.

Jan and Dean, “Surf City” (1963)

Hard to think about now, however the Beach Boys as soon as had browsing opponents that threatened to wipe them out on the charts; Brian Wilson wrote this No. 1 hit for fellow Angelenos Jan and Dean. Today, “Surf City” feels like an f-brand imitation America’s Band — however dig Blaine’s uneven backbeat, and for a second, you imagine.

Dean Martin, “Everybody Loves Somebody” (1964)

The Rat Pack star’s signature ballad was much less a show-stopper than an act aggression; when he discovered his son, Dean Paul Martin, worshipped the Beatles, he snapped again: “I’m gonna knock your pallies f the charts.” He did knock “A Hard Day’s Night” down a notch: nonetheless, it’s anybody’s guess who remembers “Everybody Loves Somebody” over the Fabs basic.

The Beach Boys, “I Get Around” (1964)

Sometime round 1964, Brian Wilson stop writing hot-rod rockers and aspired to “pocket symphonies”: the extra complicated “I Get Around” is the primary gasp a full-fledged composer. Blaine performs much less like a garden-variety beatkeeper than half a larger pop machine.

Lorne Greene, “Ringo” (1964)

Not a reference to Richard Starkey, however an outlaw gunfighter, delivered in deadpan spoken-word by actor Greene. A interval piece to make sure, however a proto-William Shatner second for anybody’s morbid curiosity. Blaine gamely follows alongside along with his prepare beat.

Barry McGuire, “Eve Destruction” (1965)

A woke pacifist anthem that encapsulated Vietnam, the Selma to Montgomery marches and the Kennedy assassination, “Eve Destruction” took an help from Blaine to seize the 1960s in full swing.

The Beach Boys, “Help Me, Rhonda” (1965)

“I might have made a greater rhythm,” Brian Wilson admitted about “Help Me Rhonda” when requested what music he’d re-do in 2014. “It wasn’t within the pocket.” Beach Boys heads beg to vary: Blaine’s sly shuffle and anxious fills nail the impudence and insecurity pet love.

Sonny and Cher, “I Got You Babe” (1965)

Sonny Bono’s ode to newlywed life has been coated by everybody from UB40 to Mark Kozelek — and the unique stays a karaoke-ready, date-night basic. Blaine’s tick-tocking rhythm marks f the months and years forward the married 1960s duo.

The Byrds, “Mr. Tambourine Man” (1965)

The line on this one is Bob Dylan saying “Wow, you possibly can dance to that!” — although it’s inconceivable to think about anybody dancing to this. Rather, the Byrds’ hit model Dylan’s tune is much more a head-trip than the unique. Just hearken to the tentative demo from Preflyte Sessions to listen to how Blaine captured the dreamy pulse like Michael Clarke couldn’t.

Gary Lewis and the Playboys, “This Diamond Ring” (1965)

This gawky, Beatles-nicking hit by Jerry Lewis’ son hit the charts exhausting, beginning at No. 65 and dealing its solution to the toppermost. Today, this No. 1 hit scans like a captivating throwback; Blaine’s dramatic timpani provides essential heft to a monitor that flirts with fluff.

The Beach Boys, “Good Vibrations” (1966)

No means Dennis might have adopted together with this one: “Good Vibrations” stays essentially the most Byzantine surf hit all time. It’s finest heard not in verses and choruses, however in episodes: Blaine nails each dramatic shift Brian’s idiosyncratic, neo-classical masterpiece. Not unhealthy as canine’ inspiration goes.

The Mamas and the Papas, “Monday, Monday” (1966)

Blaine performs slack and tambourine-heavy on this Mamas and the Papas hit — a ray sunshine famously performed at Monterey Pop Festival. It’s exhausting to listen to this gentle, breezy basic in gentle the destiny John Phillips, who succumbed to a tragic life drug abuse and illicit relations.

Petula Clark, “My Love” (1966)

Clark famously disliked this tune, calling it “flat” and “atypical”: she begged Warner Bros.’ Joe Smith to not launch it till he merely responded, “Trust me, child.” Correct evaluation: the Wrecking Crew-powered “My Love” was a smash.

Johnny Rivers, “Poor Side Town” (1966)

A shooby-dooing curio from 1966, the blue-eyed soul singer’s “Poor Side Town” rides Blaine’s workmanlike rimshots as Rivers croons from the incorrect aspect the tracks.

Frank Sinatra, “Strangers within the Night” (1966)

“The worst f—ing music I ever heard,” spat Sinatra about “Strangers within the Night.” Ol’ Blue Eyes could have simply been embarrassed about its scatting refrain, however he protested an excessive amount of; like “Poor Side Town,” it doo-be-dooed to No. 1 and remained there for 15 weeks.

Nancy Sinatra, “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’” (1966)

No kiss-f music is as threatening, as empowering, as humorous as “Boots”; Loretta Lynn, Pegi Young, and even Megadeth gave the Lee Hazlewood/Nancy Sinatra basic their very own shades aggression. But Blaine’s clobbering beat on the unique is the rightful boot itself.

Frank and Nancy Sinatra, “Somethin’ Stupid” (1967)

This basic duet was initially going to be a duet between Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood; her father relented when Hazlewood instructed him “If you don’t do it with Nancy, I’ll.” This love ballad is sophisticated by the truth that it’s sung between a father and daughter: "Some folks name that the Incest Song, which I believe is, nicely, very candy!", opined Nancy.

The Supremes, “The Happening” (1967)

What precisely is “the occurring” that shook Diana Ross to her core and took her out her world? It hardly issues: “The Happening” was workshopped as a theme for 1967 Jud Kinberg crime flick the identical title — and much outlasted it as a No. 1 hit.

The Association, “Windy” (1967)

A sunny, light-weight hit recorded on the top baroque pop, “Windy” isn’t essentially the most pressing or topical music the Vietnam period — however nonetheless transports listeners to the Summer Love. And who else however the Wrecking Crew could possibly be its propulsion system?

Simon and Garfunkel, “Mrs. Robinson” (1968)

Blaine’s rollicking rhythm was good for “Mrs. Robinson,” the Simon and Garfunkel basic included within the movie The Graduate. When Dick Cavett requested Simon why he invoked Joe DiMaggio as a substitute Mickey Mantle on the finish, his response was genius: “It’s about syllables, Dick.”

The fifth Dimension, “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In” (1969)

Though extra a kitschy curio than any far-out journey, this spotlight from the musical Hair advantages vastly from Blaine’s contact; pensive on the verses, bubbly and excitable on the refrain.

Tommy Roe, “Dizzy” (1969)

Roe’s fluffy ode to discombobulation contains a suitably vertiginous 11 key changes; Blaine hits the snare like he’s slapping a dreamer awake. America was clearly able to really feel “Dizzy” in 1969.

Henry Mancini, “Theme From Romeo & Juliet” (1969)

The composer the Pink Panther theme additionally penned this goopy instrumental theme to the 1968 movie model Romeo and Juliet. Clearly, it labored. However briefly, it’s exhausting to imagine this bested each prime Beatles and Stones.

The fifth Dimension, “Wedding Bell Blues” (1969)

A songwriter’s songwriter kind who gained important fairly than business hosannas, Laura Nyro’s “Wedding Bell Blues” largely made waves via a success model by the fifth Dimension. Blaine offers this cold-feet basic its legs along with his signature, slack-wristed shuffle.

Simon and Garfunkel, “Bridge Over Troubled Water” (1970)

It’s a testomony to Blaine’s ingenuity that he let Simon and Garfunkel’s delicate show-stopper be; he doesn’t contact the package as soon as. This isn’t to say he sits “Bridge Over Troubled Water” out: when it hit its triumphant climax, he acquired on his knees and slashed the studio ground with tire chains. What a end.

The Carpenters, “Close to You” (1970)

Or, the one which goes “Why do birds all of the sudden seem?” Blaine illustrates this everlasting Carpenters query by avoiding the snare totally — and dropping out for complete sections. We’re all nonetheless ready for the beat to drop on this No. 1 hit.

Neil Diamond, “Cracklin’ Rosie” (1970)

This No. 1 hit about sparkling wine didn’t lodge within the public consciousness like different Diamond hits — “Sweet Caroline,” for instance — however has bubbly enchantment in its personal proper. Blaine performs as effervescently because the “store-bought lady” Diamond’s needing.

The Partridge Family, “I Think I Love You” (1971)

The Wrecking Crew ten lent its skills to singles by TV bands — the Partridge Family amongst them. Cast members David Cassidy and Shirley Jones lead the L.A. vets for this bubblegum ode to dawning love.

The Raiders, “Indian Reservation” (1971)

The costumed garage-rock hitmakers who yowled “Kicks” in 1966 tried a rebrand within the ‘70s, punting “Paul Revere” out their title in favor the extra critical “the Raiders.” Their ensuing single concerning the Trail Tears comes f as insincere in 2019, however Blaine gave it a dramatic heft nonetheless.

Neil Diamond, “Song Sung Blue” (1972)

Diamond all the time had a high-falutin’ air to his artwork, whether or not crowing “Top that!” to Bob Dylan after his Last Waltz set or claiming to have primarily based “Song Sung Blue” f a Mozart concerto. Sorry, Neil: it’s a reasonably normal nation tune with a clip-clopping beat from the Wrecking Crew.

Cher, “Half Breed” (1973)

Did this No. 1 single from the vantage level a mixed-race Native American age significantly nicely? Ask Cher: she spent a sequence 2014 tweets each angrily defending and frantically apologizing for “Half Breed.” Blaine performs ably on this No. 1, however like “Indian Reservation,” maybe this kind caricature is finest left previously.

John Denver, “Annie’s Song” (1974)

A light-weight-as-air ode to his spouse, Annie Martell, that he wrote whereas vacationing at a ski raise, “Annie’s Song” is a stunning marital ballad that rightfully turned his signature tune. Blaine largely fades to the background: it’s all concerning the symphonic aptitude.

Barbra Streisand, “The Way We Were” (1974)

The title music from the 1973 romantic drama The Way We Were has its personal lush, intoxicating qualities — and the movie is rightfully thought-about a basic at the moment. Blaine, a consummate pressional, didn’t miss a beat on this evocative No. 1.

The Carpenters, “Top the World” (1974)

Blaine was ten tapped within the ‘70s for decorative, country-pop enjoying, and he stepped as much as the plate for this Carpenters smash. The enchantment was there: when Lynn Anderson coated this No. 1 hit; it hit the charts once more at No. 74.

John Denver, “I’m Sorry/Calypso” (1975)

The woebegone reverse “Annie’s Song” and his remaining No. 1 single earlier than his 1997 loss of life in a airplane crash, “I’m Sorry” carries an advanced vibe from a gifted hitmaker. Blaine’s supportive, all-toms backing cools the burn Denver’s marital troubles — he and Annie divorced in 1982.

Captain & Tennille, “Love Will Keep Us Together” (1975)

Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield’s ode to resilience was greater than a success for Captain & Tenille: it was the best-selling single 1975. It’s a contented reminder not solely Blaine, however co-leader Daryl Dragon, who left us in 2019.

John Denver, “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” (1975)

If Denver’s early singles had latent hayseed attraction, his 1974 album Back Home Again pushed it proper to the entrance. He laid all the way in which in on the No. 1 hit “Thank God I’m a Country Boy,” laying down prairie poetry to Blaine’s knee-slapping rhythm.

Diana Ross, “Theme From Mahogany (Do You Know Where You’re Going To)” (1976)

The 1975 movie Mahogany, a couple of black lady who turns into a dressmaker, is solely evoked at the moment for this elegant Ross ballad. It was additionally Blaine’s remaining No. 1 hit, and it’s nearly as if he knew it — it appears to function every his unfastened, closely swinging tips.

Whether enjoying rock, soul or introspective ballads, Blaine’s mission was a easy one: accompany the music. He eliminated his ego behind the package — and gave pop a bounty we’ll always remember.