Monday, March 16, 2015
Music documentary The Wrecking Crew received its commercial première Friday, screening in cinemas in Los Angeles and New York via Magnolia Pictures.
Two decades in the making, Denny Tedesco’s documentary observes and honours a group of session musicians collectively known as “The Wrecking Crew”. Tedesco explained he was moved to begin the documentary when he learned his father, guitarist Tommy Tedesco, had cancer in 1996. “When they said he had a year to live — and I always wanted to do this story about The Wrecking Crew — my concern was, if I don’t do it, it’s going to be the biggest regret of my life”.
Tedesco commented on his anticipation of audiences’ reaction at Nuart Theatre in Los Angeles, “People say, ‘aren’t you tired of watching it?’ I say, ‘I don’t watch it, I watch the crowd’.”
The documentary showcases interviews with the late Tommy Tedesco, guitarist Glen Campbell, drummers Hal Blaine and Earl Palmer, bassist Carol Kaye, and others, amongst the roughly 30 musicians that formed The Wrecking Crew’s loose roster. Cher, Nancy Sinatra, and Brian Wilson from the Beach Boys are also seen talking about the session artists.
The movie includes home footage of Tommy Tedesco, and photographs of The Wrecking Crew working in studios with artists Frank and Nancy Sinatra.
Originally completed in 2008, and screened at several festivals, the commercial release was delayed until recently as Tedesco needed to raise money to cover licensing costs of the one hundred and ten songs included in the film.
Tedesco explained: “We had a $750,000 bill before we could even release this film theatrically, so no-one was touching us. We still had this thing around our neck. Documentaries don’t sell, and music docs are the worst.” Tedesco described reaching out to sponsors to pay off publishers and labels to get the film into cinemas. “Every time I got money from a donation, I’d pay off a label or publisher.”
A Kickstarter campaign raised $300,000, which paid for licensing and session artists. Billboard reports the money was able to go towards the creation of outtakes for a future DVD. Tedesco said he wanted to keep outtakes of the interviews he conducted that didn’t make it into the movie. “I want to do outtakes of every musician, a lot of whom aren’t in the movie[…] Who are they? What did they do? I want to give everyone their say.”
The Wrecking Crew worked behind the scenes throughout the 50s, 60s, and 70s with well-know bands and artists on memorable tracks such as Sonny and Cher, “I got you Babe”; Beach Boys, “California Girls”; Elvis Presley’s, “A Little Less Conversation”; and The Ronettes, “Be my Baby”.
Aside from the interviews, the documentary also includes footage of The Wrecking Crew, filmed by Hal Blaine. He dubbed himself a director as he joked around with the other musicians. “I had a camera, and I took it to work and I became a director of sorts. And I’d tell people like Tommy, ‘Hey, Tommy, do me a favour. I’m going to take a film of you. Just come walking into the studio, and all of a sudden pretend you’ve walked into a great big orgy going on here. There’s all these naked women and guys.’ And we’re laughing about it. I did that with Glenn Campbell, all the guys”, Blaine said.