Documenting the legacy of a group of L.A.-based studio musicians who played on many of Nancy’s recordings and innumerable other classics in the 1960s, Denny Tedesco’s film The Wrecking Crew recognizes the significance of their artistic and cultural contributions. Nancy provides historical perspective in the documentary as she asserts,
Following the February 9, 2013 screening of the film at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills, as part of the tribute/Q&A (featuring Nancy, Denny, honoree Hal Blaine, Don Randi and Jeff Barry), Nancy presented a David Letterman-style homage to one of those heroes, her drummer, The Wrecking Crew’s Hal Blaine.
10. Hal played on almost all of my 600+ recordings
9. He played on all of my 570 recordings that didn’t chart
8. He played on or in all of my TV specials
7. We slept together in hotels around the world…well, not actually in the same room
6. He takes me to the world’s worst restaurants
5. He can boldly yell from the back of the bandstand, “WILL SOMEBODY GIVE THE DRUMMER A LIGHT,” during the show
4. The legendary Belsky diamond: No, I was never privileged to wear it. It was worn by many. [Hal was born "Harold Simon Belsky"]
2. [His] keen fashion sense
…The number one reason I love Hal Blaine…
1. He’s older than I am
In September 1969, “Drummer Man” b/w “Home” (Reprise 0851), featuring Hal on drums (and an unusual 45 label credit), became Nancy’s twenty-first single to enter Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.
The September 6, 1969 two-page (Nancy and Doug Kershaw) Billboard ad, described this irresistible recording:
“Nancy Sinatra’s Drummer Man
A single so nice, you won’t stop listening.
On Reprise (0851), where nice things are, usually.”
From Nancy’s booklet notes for The Essential Nancy Sinatra CD:
“I promised Hal I wouldn’t perform this one without him but the song became so popular I had to break that promise. (I’m sorry, Hal.) I’ve had the great pleasure of performing this one live, with Elvis Costello’s Pete Thomas and Blondie’s Clem Burke!”
A quartet of “Drummer Man” 45 picture sleeves from around the world: France (RV-20222); Italy (R-02127); Japan (SJET-1927); Germany (RA-0851).
All By Myself
Nancy’s fourth LP, Sugar (1966), features Dixieland jazz interpretations of 1920s-era standards. In his fascinating discography notes at his website, halblaine.com, Hal comments on Nancy’s rendition of Irving Berlin’s “All By Myself”:
“This is one of the great recordings that Don Randi and I did with Nancy and Billy Strange. It is a great old standard and she loved doing it, and so did we. For all of these years, Nancy has sung it on stage during all of her personal appearances. It’s such a gentle song and for me on drums, it just had that lilt that made it feel good. Nancy also sang it on her Caesars Palace, Las Vegas engagement, and The Ed Sullivan Sunday Special while dancing with all of her dancers.
Truly a beautiful number…”
Nancy’s Sugar LP liner credits the musicians of The Wrecking Crew, in a “SPECIAL THANKS TO THESE FELLAS…”
[Hal Blaine's] Have Fun!!! Play Drums!!! /
Hal Blaine’s 1968 LP, Have Fun!!! Play Drums!!! (ABC-Dunhill DS-50035):
“For beginning drummers: Learn to play today’s big rock drum sound
with the West Coast’s Number One drummer”
In Billboard’s July 20, 1968 album reviews, Have Fun!!! Play Drums!!! was listed as a “Special Merit Pick.”
On track #3, Hal demonstrates the shuffle with the bass drum:
Hal’s bass drum, along with Carol Kaye’s distinctive electric bass, can be heard on Nancy’s rollicking recording of “Coastin’,” from the Sugar LP and the B-side of “Love Eyes”:
On track #4 of Have Fun!!! Play Drums!!!, Hal offers encouragement to aspiring drummers:
Ed Sullivan Presents
Movin’ With Nancy, On Stage
Nancy performed “Drummer Man,” with Hal’s drum solo, and “All By Myself” on her second “Movin’” TV special, 1971′s Movin’ With Nancy, On Stage (CBS press release, pictured above). Hal recalls his role on the special:
“Nancy paid me an incredible honor featuring me on her major T.V. special on The Ed Sullivan Show. Nancy, my monster set of drums and the show was a major hit on CBS. She’s just the greatest person a man could know and I’m so happy to have been her drummer for over 30 beautiful years.. Love you ‘Nanny’.. as we called her, just the best!!”
Nancy, Don Randi, Jeff Barry, Denny Tedesco and Hal are pictured at the February 9, 2013 screening, which included a celebration for Hal’s birthday (February 5).