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I was among the lucky few of approximately 500 music lovers who took advantage of the opportunity to take in one of the two screenings of The Wrecking Crew documentary on July 20 at San Diego City College, a presentation of KSDS Jazz 88.

I opted for the 4 pm showing, under the misguided assumption that the early time slot would draw a smaller crowd. I have never seen the Saville Theatre fill up like that — literally, there were people sitting on the floor in the aisles.

Perhaps they were all aware that the chance to see this film is rare, indeed, which is a shame on multiple levels because The Wrecking Crew is illuminating, informative and the best music-business documentary I've ever seen.

It deals with the studio scene in Los Angeles during the 1960s, and the small group of studio musicians who came to play on virtually every AM radio hit that didn't have a Detroit address. After the 1970s, even the venerable Motown came to LA to set up shop.

The film is a labor of love from the son of one of The Wrecking Crew's most prolific subjects, the versatile guitar virtuoso Tommy Tedesco, who dominated the pop-music guitar landscape for the better part of twenty years. Tedesco would leave home for a jingle at one studio in the morning, head to another for Nancy Sinatra date, perhaps followed by a recording for the Byrds and finish up late at night with the marathon Brian Wilson sessions for the iconic Beach Boys classic Pet Sounds.

You could certainly understand if The Wrecking Crew was primarily devoted to the legacy of his father, but the movie is much more even-handed and diverse than that. There are revealing portraits of bassist Carole Kaye, drummer Hal Blaine and saxophonist Plas Johnson within -- plus a whole lot more.

It has taken film-maker Denny Tedesco many years to raise enough funds to pay for the royalties on the more than 100 pop-music hits that pepper the soundtrack, and he is still trying to raise about a quarter-of-a-million dollars to cover payments to the Musicians Union and other fees before the film can be shown as a commercial enterprise.

This is a movie that anyone who was around in the '60s, or anyone interested in that golden age should see, and I can only hope that Tedesco will find that benevolent sponsor to make his project available to the general public.


You can find out more about the film by going to www.wreckingcrewfilm.com

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