TOMMY TEDESCO

Born 3 July 1930, Niagara Falls, New York
Died 10 November 1997, Northridge, California

The "Most Recorded Guitarist in History" was a title conferred upon Tommy Tedesco, and it's doubtful anyone else could lay claim to it. As a session guitarist, Tedesco's career stretched from the beginnings of the "California Sound" in the early Sixties until 1992, when he suffered a stroke that limited his use of his right arm. Tedesco's astonishing portfolio and reputation were a result of his versatile sight-reading abilities and talent for interpreting - and delivering - whatever a producer or composer wanted, whether it was a TV or movie theme, soundtrack, or pop, rock, jazz, country; in short, anything.

A self-described "hustler," Tedesco came from a poor Italian neighbour- hood in Niagara Falls, New York, and made his way into the emerging L.A. session scene by dint of sheer determination and hard work. In the early Sixties, Tedesco became part of a group of musicians who backed up an array of rock and pop artists and who were later nicknamed the Wrecking Crew by drummer Hal Blaine. Among them were bassist Carol Kaye, guitarist Glen Campbell, and pianist Leon Russell. Never a big shot who hung around with the stars, he nonetheless worked with the biggest names in the business throughout the '60s, '70s and '80s: Herb Alpert, Phil Spector, Henry Mancini, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Sam Cooke, Elvis Presley, Olivia Newton-John, the Fifth Dimension, the Monkees, the Beach Boys (those are his licks opening up "Fun Fun Fun"), Jan and Dean. Frank Zappa, J.J. Cale, the Mamas and the Papas, the Everly Brothers, Sarah Vaughan, the Partridge Family, Al Kooper. And this is a short list! Tedesco's movie and TV credits are mind-boggling: Bonanza, Cool Hand Luke, The Godfather, Cocoon, Honky Tonk, Cat Ballou, Dirty Dancing, The Buddy Holly Story, Bonnie and Clyde, The Odd Couple, Looking for Mr. Goodbar, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, Young Frankenstein, Grease, Jaws, Three's Company, Love Boat, Get Smart, The Twilight Zone, Gunsmoke, The Brady Bunch, Dallas, The Waltons, Gilligan's Island. He was always willing to play a part "bad" or "good" according to the direction of the producer, and was not limited to guitar; he carried a collection of other instruments to sessions, including mandolin and sitar, and all tuned like a guitar.

He also made many solo albums in which he played mostly what he termed "hip jazz stuff," which was his personal favourite style. He passed away in 1997 at the age of 67. More info: http://www.fenderplayersclub.com/pdfs/bios/tedesco.pdf Autobiography: Tommy Tedesco, Confessions of a Guitar Player. Fullerton, CA : Centerstream Publications, 1994.

 
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