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Tommy Tedesco

Tommy Tedesco


(For three decades, Tommy Tedesco, like so many of the musicians on Brian's records, has played on dozens of hits, TV themes and major motion picture soundtracks. In the 1960s, Tommy briefly stepped into the spotlight with Tommy Tedesco's Twanging Twelve Great Hits, a record he calls "the funniest thing never heard, the lowest thing ever made on guitar." In the 1980s, Tommy did record several well-received albums of jazz guitar.)

TOMMY:" I come from the jazz world; I'm a frustrated jazz player; my idols were people like Charlie Christian, Django Reinhardt, Barney Kessel...sophisticated jazz players.

"All of a sudden, I started doing these sessions. For me, these dates were coming down a whole bunch musically. And I developed an attitude, and I didn't know I had one until I looked back. I was very withdrawn. The artist could be withdrawn, have an attitude. But I never said anything. My job, as far as I was concerned, was as a guitar player to do the best I could. I never knew what was gonna happen. I did all the Spector dates; at the time, I thought it was all a farce.

"When I tried to play a solo, I tried to sound exactly as I would if I had taken twelve lessons and I was twelve years old. Bending strings and all this kind of stuff. Pretty soon, this kind of child's solo was distinctive. I was the type they would say 'Play it like Chuck Berry' and I would turn around and say, 'Who is Chuck Berry?' Somebody would tell me, and then I could do the solo.

"It was a job. It was like, 'Would you take this money to play guitar or change the tires on my car?' At least the guitar, that has something to do with what I want to do.

"When Brian would work us individually, he would sing a part. So I would sit there, hoping he wouldn't get to me, because I had my own ideas. But I would have to do what he said. To me, playing acoustic guitar was like being on the gravy train. Let those other guys do their artistry. I would coast through it, plus they paid well. I mostly played rhythm, didn't realize I had solos until somebody told me they had read in a book or an article that it was my solo.

"One time, the Beach Boys were in the hall and they were singing. It was like the Hi-Lo's or the Four Freshmen, and it astounded me because I didn't think they were capable. It really impressed me. It changed my attitude.

"The players weren't so much friends, as we were all one person. Hal Blaine, Steve Douglas, Ray Pohlman, Carol Kaye...we had the same outlook on everything. But we had different attitudes about the work, from my indifference to Hal giving himself to every second on the job. Hal was the most devoted musician I've ever been involved with.

"I’m proud to have been involved with the people I worked with, not what I did on their records. Back then, when I heard the records I played on, I would have said, 'That's terrible.' Maybe twenty years ago, it had gone from awful to OK. Now when I hear 'em, I say, 'That's nice.' Maybe in twenty years, when I hear 'ern, I'll say 'That's great!' I never thought of me playing with all these people meant anything until later. Until I would be on vacation in England, and I would hear 'Bonanza' and that was me on guitar. When I was away from my home ground, that's when it meant something to me. I look back and now I'm really impressed with the records I played on."
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