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Roy Caton
Roy Caton

(When he was seven years old, living in the small coal-mining town of Frackville, PA, a family friend gave him a beat up cornet. Ever since, except for a high school diversion into sports, music has been his life. In the late '40s, after a stint in the Army Band during World War II, Roy ended up at the Schillinger House of Music (later the Berklee School of Music). From there, he joined Woody Herman's Third Herd, spent three memorable years with Herman and played on several of the band's recording sessions including one with Charlie Parker. After moving to California, he continued to play with the big bands, and around 1962, began working in the studio with H.B. Barnum. It was arranger Jack Nitzsche who employed him on the Spector dates, which led to his being engaged by Brian for Beach Boys' sessions. Through the years, he has worked on dates for Frank Zappa, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, Sam Cooke, the Everly Brothers, Neil Diamond, Frank Sinatra, the Blossoms, Johnny Cash and Marvin Gaye, to name but a few of the thousands of sessions on which he played.)

ROY: "I remember mostly that whatever was done for the Beach Boys, Brian did it all. He handled the entire thing. He took charge and got it done. Most often, we would have just a chord sheet, and he would tell you when to come in and what to play, and you would write it down yourself. I do remember having some charts to play. Usually, there was a group, but sometimes it would be just myself and [the late] Howard Roberts with Brian in the studio.

"I just liked the way he put things on top of each other. He would do a track and add something and then something else until he got what he wanted. For him, horns were coloring and used sparingly.

"He had a fascinating way of doing it. One time, I remember, Brian told me to put a Harmon mute in. And then he said to me, 'At the end of bar 24, play a G on the second line.' That's all I played on that particular session. And I wondered why he wanted it, because with the mute in, you could hardly hear it. But that's what he wanted. That little color. He knew what he was doing. He knew what he wanted and how to get it.

"Brian was like one of the guys. One of the nicest people I ever met in the music business, and I met a lot of them. As for genius, the word is used too frequently these days. To me, genius is Da Vinci.
"What was unique about Brian? A couple of things--one was how nicely he treated everyone. How he could put the thing together and do it on the spot rather than coming in with it all written down and premeditated. There is a bit of genius in that. You've gotta be pretty proud to be associated with that whole era. It was great to be a part of it. And without Brian, there never would have been a group called 'The Beach Boys.' Brian Wilson is 'The Beach Boys.'"

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