Hal Blaine, the Wrecking Crew and George Harrison
Not only was Hal Blaine a killer drummer playing on one-hundred and fifty number one records, in La in the 60's, he was also a contractor for the infamous “Wrecking Crew.” He booked the musicians to perform on recording sessions. All the top singers, arrangers, record producers, recording artists called on Hal, including myself.
Dave Chackler & United Artists Records, backed an idea I had.
My idea; take a collection of old Big-Band hits and put them to a disco beat. I re-arranged ten standard Big-Band hits, added some sections of my own creation, all with a "disco" rhythm under-pining with big band jazz being featured.
The plan was to lay down the rhythm tracks first, at Silvery Moon Studios, then the next day overdub the horn and sax sections. Then on a third day bring in some singers, male and female to sing the "Modernairs" type vocal parts on three of the ten cuts.
On the morning of the first session, the rhythm session, the studio engineer and his two assistants, were setting mikes, gobos, etc. Warming up for the session was Lee Sklar on bass, Lee Ritenour and Larry Carlton on guitars, and David Foster on piano.
Hal walked in the studio. He was with a skinny guy with long hair. Hal introduced his friend to me as George. We shook hands, and I continued my important talk to Hal. "Hal, for Wednesday, I'm gonna need five singers like the Modernairs. They have to read (music), be able to cover four part jazz-voicings.
Then this guy George butts in. Opening the leather bag slung over his shoulder, pointing into the bag, (English accent),”Oh! I have them right in here." I smiled at the quirky attempt at humor and continued talking to Hal.
I noticed the assistants whispering to each other as if there was a problem, an emergency. I paid no attention.
It was time to start recording. I went into the control room ready to run down the first song when the assistant came to me and asked “do you know who that is with Hal?" I said, “no I don't , some English dude named George.” He screams, “that's George Harrison."
“Interesting,” I said having more pressing things to do. The players were in position ready to go,
I pressed the talk-back mike and said, "OK you guys, let's go. Let’s start with 'American Patrol,' I'll count it off.”
The session went well, beyond my wildest imaginings
As the band was packing up, I looked around the studio, George must have left, I didn't see him.
It was a custom of some players, particularly drummers, to bring a visitor to a session, just to get an idea of what it’s like. Hal apparently brought his pal George Harrison to mine. It was a good album and arranging and producing it a wonderful experience for me. In the sax section was Plas Johnston, Bob Cooper, the whole band was made up of America's musical-treasures.