News for the Neighborhood
The Wrecking Crew

In the 1960s when Denny Tedesco’s father, Tommy, went to work each day, rather than carrying a briefcase, he left the house with his guitars. While the younger Tedesco understood his father was a musician, he didn’t realize until he reached adulthood the significance of his musical work.

The elder Tedesco was a member of the legendary Wrecking Crew, a group of little-known studio musicians who played on hundreds of pop hits originating in Los Angeles in the 1960s, including songs by the Beach Boys, Sonny and Cher, the Mamas and the Papas, the Righteous Brothers and the Monkees, as well as popular television themes like Batman, Bonanza, Green Acres and M*A*S*H.

“It wasn’t until I was older that I realized just how pivotal the Wrecking Crew was to the hit music of the 1960s,” says Tedesco, a film technician and producer/ director, who started his career in the early 1980s working on feature films like “Eating Raoul.”

In 1996, Tommy Tedesco was diagnosed with terminal cancer, so Denny decided to let the world know about the group and honor his father by producing and directing ”The Wrecking Crew.“ Completed before his father’s death in 1997, the award-winning music documentary features behind-the-scenes clips and stories from various Wrecking Crew members and stars who used their services, like Cher and Brian Wilson.

The Wrecking Crew

Since 2006 when he created the film, Tedesco has slowly paid the various record labels the necessary licensing fees that will allow him to bring the movie to the big screen and release it on DVD. In order to raise the funds, he holds private screenings of the film, which he’ll be doing in Old Towne at Chapman University’s Folino Theater the evening of Saturday, October 13th.

“The screening is open to the public, and some members of the wrecking crew will attend, as well as Bill Medley of the Righteous Brothers,” says Julie Kramer, Associate Director of the Orange Public Library Foundation, which is hosting the event along with Orange Homegrown Farmers and Artisans Market. ”Viewing this not-yet-released film is a great opportunity,” she says.

The Wrecking Crew got its name from the fact that the musicians in the group were young and just coming on the music scene when rock and roll made its debut. “The older guys playing orchestra music for performers like Dean Martin thought that the Wrecking Crew members and ’their rock and roll’ would wreck the business,” says Tedesco.

When the pop rock that many thought was a passing fad played on the radio, the hits started coming quickly, inundating the Wrecking Crew with continuous work. The group constituted producer/songwriter Phil Spector’s famed “Wall of Sound” and is hailed by many as a one-of-a-kind team of musicians, who collaborated so well that they often recorded perfect records on the first try.

“Back then if anyone made a mistake, they had to start all over again, and time was money,” says Tedesco. “Many of the stars just weren’t good enough musicians to nail it every time, so the Wrecking Crew was hired to work their magic.” Other members of the legendary crew included Carol Kaye, Glen Campbell and Leon Russell, who also appear in the movie.

Every time Tedesco shows the film, audiences rave.

“The music performed by the Wrecking Crew is so far-reaching, even young people recognize the songs, because their parents listened to the music,” he says, noting that music elicits powerful memories.

Tickets to the Wrecking Crew screening are $20 general admission and $100 reserved, the latter of which includes an invitation to a pre-screening Green Room VIP cocktail party, including photo opportunities with Denny Tedesco and special guests. Buy tickets online at OPLFoundation.org, or call 714-288-2470 for additional purchase options.

For more information, visit WreckingCrewFilm.com

Published in the Sep/Oct 2012 edition of the Old Towne Orange Plaza Review

Written by Julie Bawden-Davis, Photograph by WreckingCrewFilm


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