In the pantheon of popular music, there probably wasn’t a drummer as prolific and as recorded as session drummer Hal Blaine. Blaine passed away yesterday, March 11, at the age of 90, his family announced.
Blaine was a member of the revered Wrecking Crew studio group and contributor to dozens of world-renowned songs covering almost every musical genre. It is said that the Blaine appeared on over 6000 singles and more than 30,000 other recordings during his career, which began in the ‘40s and continued until his passing.
Some key recordings include the Beach Boys’ “I Get Around,” the Byrds’ “Mr. Tambourine Man,” Simon and Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson,” Neil Diamond’s “Cracklin’ Rose.” Blaine was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2000 and received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award last year.
The Blaine family statement on Facebook described him as “inspiration to countless friends, fans and musicians,” adding, “May he rest forever on 2 and 4.”
As expected, tributes to Blaine came far and wide across the music world. The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson wrote on Instagram: “Hal Blaine was such a great musician and friend that I can’t put it into words. Hal taught me a lot, and he had so much to do with our success – he was the greatest drummer ever.” Ringo Starr said Blaine was “an incredible musician” and wished “peace and love to all his family.” Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith wrote: “Goodbye my old friend...see u in the next life.” Toto guitarist Steve Lukather said: “There will never be another… Google the hits he played on!!”
Much of the Wrecking Crew’s work was with producer Phil Spector. That work, for the most part, also went uncredited until Blaine’s memoir Hal Blaine and the Wrecking Crew was published in 1990 and gave credit where credit was due.