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Wiggy (November)
by Hal Blaine
Hal Blaine (1929 to 2019) was an American drummer, with 'The Wrecking Crew'. Hal Blaine was born Harold Simon Belsky in Holyoke, Massachusetts, USA, on February 5th 1929. Born into a family of Jewish Eastern European immigrants, when he was seven he moved with his family to Hartford, Connecticut. He began playing drums a year later, before the family moved again in 1943, this time to California, and from 1949 to 1952 continued his percussion studies with Roy Knapp (the teacher of 'jazz' drummer Gene Krupa). He began his professional career by playing overnight sessions in Chicago strip clubs, which allowed him to practice and perfect his sight reading skills, and subsequently played as part of Count Basie's big band, touring with both Patti Page and Tommy Sands before taking up session work. Unlike many of his 'jazz' contemporaries, Blaine enjoyed playing 'rock and roll', and this meant he featured in numerous such sessions during the 1950s. He became a core member of 'The Wrecking Crew' line-up of Los Angeles supporting musicians who played on many and varied hit records during the 1960s. From the 1980s onwards however, he reduced his session work as computers and electronics began to be used more and more in the studios, and producers brought in younger players (who also began to introduce the drum machine into the scene). After still being kept busy for a number of years recording advertising jingles, Blaine eventually semi-retired from performance, although (following a sad divorce which drained much of his accrued wealth) he ended his working days as a security guard in Arizona. During his musical career, he completed over 35,000 sessions and played on 6,000 singles, and his drumming featured on 150 US Top 10 hits (40 of which went to No. 1), as well as on many film and television soundtracks. In the year 2000, he was among the inaugural "sidemen" inductees into the "Rock and Roll Hall of Fame," and in 2018 he received a "Grammy" 'Lifetime Achievement Award'. Hal Blaine died in Palm Desert, California, on March 11th 2019, aged 90.
Posted: 13th April 2019
Hundreds of very talented musicians pass away each year, some without much recognition at all. On "Rest In Peace ✚", I aim to give them a fitting 'send-off', with a decent Tribute. I hope you will join me in marking their passing.....
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