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Sid Sharp
Sid Sharp

(Educated at the Curtis Institute of Music, where one of his classmates was Leonard Bernstein, Sid Sharp played with the Philadelphia Orchestra under Eugene Ormandy's baton, and he was the concertmaster at the Hollywood Bowl under Leopold Stokowski. During the 1960s, his group, The Sid Sharp Strings, was one of, if not the most in- demand string section in Los Angeles, and they played on virtually all of Brian's string dates, including Pet Sounds and "Good Vibrations." Now retired, Sid Sharp begins his recollections by recounting how a typical "sweetening" session with Brian would go.)


SID: "In those days, in most cases, you went to a session and the charts were already prepared and the arranger and composer would make changes during the session. Sometimes, Brian would come in with music or chord charts, but for the most part, even if he did, he would change those. Most of the time, there would be no music, nothing written. He would bring in blank music paper and sing the parts to me and to [the late] Jesse Ehrlich who was my first cellist. We used to write it down and then pass out the parts. He had preconceived ideas of what he wanted. Usually, he would sing the parts. He would sing one string line, then another, until he would have a four-part harmony--two violin parts, then the viola and the cello.

"He was doing voicings; he heard these particular things and he would sing what he would hear. He would tell us what he wanted; he would say the cello should play this or it should be lower. We were always very impressed with him because he heard not only the melodic line but he heard the accompaniment, the counterpoint.

"The rhythm track had been put down, and we would hear it in our headphones. Brian never conducted, per se. He would count off the rhythm, and he would listen in the booth. For the most part, we had headphones on, heard the rhythm, played what he had sung us, made sure it was in time with the rhythm track. If it wasn't right, he would tell us, and we would do it again.

"If somebody misplayed something, he would say 'That isn't what I said. This is what I want. We found him to be extremely musical, very bright, and he knew what he wanted. He remembered everything that he sang to us.

"Actually, there might have been times we suggested something, but I really don't remember. We had many wonderful sessions. And some of the things really gave as a good feeling playing them. "It would usually go three or four hours. There were times it would go faster than others. For the most part, the string parts he wrote weren't that difficult, and it was a question of him being satisfied in the booth with what we did rhythmically and sound-wise.

"He was one of the more talented youngsters that we worked with. We worked for all of the top people. We appreciated it when we saw talent. He was doing his best, so we did our best. He was very shy, not very talkative. But when he got involved in music, you could feel his excitement, that there was something inside of him that was really coming out.

"An extremely talented and very nice person. He was genuinely liked by all of us. We did our best for him because of that. We liked his personality. We were there to help as much as we could. He had a lot to say musically, and he was saying it. It came from within. We saw him grow, and he did. We always listened, and we always went in there and did our best. I think he was a giant, a true giant in the start of rock 'n roll. I'm happy I had the privilege of working with him at that stage of life."

(NOTE: For this collection, it was my intention to speak with everybody who played on the Pet Sounds sessions. Unfortunately, some of the musicians could not be located and a few felt they had no meaningful memories to contribute. Sadly several were too ill to fully participate or have passed on. However, this book, just like the album, wouldn't be what it is without their significant contribution.)

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