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Jerry Cole
Jerry Cole
(Electric Guitar)

(Born in Green Bay, Wisconsin and raised in the midwest, when he was 17, and already leading his own band, Jerry was discovered in Denver by Challenge Records President Dave Burgess. Recruited for the label's new studio group, The Champs (who had just hit the top of the charts with "Tequila"), Jerry was brought to L.A. In 1958. After tourng with the Champs, he spent two years as a staff writer at American Publishing, along with Glen Campbell, Frank Gorshin and Jerry Capehart. He and Glen cut the 'hottest" demos in town, and very soon, he was an in demand guitarist. In those days, he played on dozens of dates for Elvis and Ricky Nelson. Among the artists he's worked with are Roger Miller, Lou Rawls, Merle Haggard, Hank Williams Jr, Steely Dan, James Taylor, Neil Diamond, Ray Charles and, of course Phil Spector.)

JERRY: "It took about one session working with Brian to see that this guy was for real. At first, I thought he was a kid with 'kid' ideas. We were used to going into Capitol Studio A, with 45 year old conductors and charts. We called it 'Music by the pound.' Brian walked in with a young attitude and a young sound. And we thought, 'Wait a minute. Maybe this guy knows something we don't.' And he did.

'Sometimes he would sit down at the piano and play, all by himself, play a song over and over again. And he would look at you, and people would sit down and Hal would find 'a latch,' and Carol would too, and he would play until that feel in the studio felt close, like there was something he could go into the booth and listen to. To him, groove as everything...groove, feel and color.

'Other nights, he walked in with a blank piece of paper and called out the chords and time signatures he wanted. And he'd say, 'Play.' 'Now let me hear more of this.' 'Lock in that Somebody would come up with an idea; he was always open to anything that was musically constructive to a record.

'In those days, we were doing three dates a day, five or six days a week. It was very cut and dried. They told you what to play. But a Brian Wilson date was always exciting. No one walked out of his sessions feeling that you hadn't learned something musically and accomplished something.

'Every day with Brian was an adventure. Some times were straight ahead, from beginning to end. Another, we would do a basic track, and think he liked it. And then, like on 'Good Vibrations,' two months later, we might be called in to do a variation on it. We might go in and work eight hours on twelve bars until they would be perfected.

He would take it home and figure out where he wanted it to go and come back the next night and do it again. He could see how every piece of the puzzle would fit. 'Good Vibrations,' for example, was such a tremendous record; but basically, it was structurally built around Carol Kaye's bass line.

'Sometimes, he had definite note-for-note written parts; other times, he had a basic handle on it. If he had an ad-lib or a fill, I would play five or six variations on it, until he found what would fit that record. I would bring in a cartage trunk with approximately 25 different guitars in it, and at any given time, I might pick up a half dozen of 'em until he heard he sound of a particular instrument he liked. Billy Strange was almost always on acoustic; I was almost always on electric.

'During Pet Sounds, Brian would not be funny or laughing at things. He would walk in and he wouldn't smile; he had a definite plan in his head. Sometimes, we would work seven at night until seven in the morning. After the session, he would say 'Guys, great job. We're booked on such and such a day...' and boom, he would close the door 3 and be in there for twenty hours, listening and thinking of where he was going.

'A lot of producers felt that musicians were nothing more than pawns in a chess game; Brian always held his musicians in the highest esteem, so if he wanted the session to go longer, we would. His generosity was overwhelming; many times, in the last hour of a date, if we were going late, he would have food catered for all the guys. The only guy who did that constantly was Frank Sinatra.

'He was many years ahead of his time; Brian was as far ahead as the Beatles in the respect that his sound was something musicians would listen to. When the public listens, they have an overall view; when musicians listen they listen to intricacy...inside licks...inside running lines. When his records came out, it was always an amazement' like 'How did he do that?' But when you worked on it and pieced it together...the time changes and key signature changes...you saw he had a definite mode, a definite direction. He always knew where he was going. It took years for people to catch up. In fact, in many ways, people still listen to a Brian Wilson record for a concept of how a record should be put together. They say, 'That's the way it should go.' Today, his records stand up; people in the business still listen.

"To be a part of that time period and to be involved with a giant like Brian Wilson. Well, it's kind of an era that musicians of today will never experience. Nobody will know what it's like to be in that time frame when the creativity was so spontaneous. To go from a Brian Wilson session to a Neil Diamond date to a Merle Haggard. All in the same day.

"For me, it was a total privilege and a great learning experience working with Brian. Brian had shades of Bach and Beethoven in him. He played fugues within fugues. 'Good Vibrations' is a choice example of that. It was not just rock 'n' roll. 'God Only Knows' and 'Good Vibrations' will stand up 50 years from now; what great records. Long after Brian has left this earth, people will still be remarking, what a great, great talent. I'm so proud to have played a part in his recorded legacy."

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