Tuesday, August 25, 2009

RIP: Larry Knechtel

A great musician you've certainly heard but may have never seen has died.
Larry Knechtel--a member of the group of L.A. session musicians known as the Wrecking Crew--was 69. He played on tons of records with that crackerjack band of hired hands and helped make popular music sound the way it does.

Musicians Hall of Fame member Larry Knechtel, a multi-instrumentalist who contributed mightily to classic recordings, including Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and The Byrds’ “Mr. Tambourine Man,” died Thursday in Yakima, Wash., after an apparent heart attack.Mr. Knechtel, a former Nashvillian, was 69.
“He played such innovative stuff,” said Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Duane Eddy, who gave Mr. Knechtel his start as a touring musician. “You’d hear the sensitivity of what he played, and the soul and the feeling, and then you’d look up at him and see a guy who looks like Charles Bronson sitting at the piano bench.”
In the early 1960s, Mr. Knechtel moved to Los Angeles, and by mid-decade he was a part of Los Angeles’ famed Wrecking Crew of session musicians, working as a bass player, keyboardist and harmonica player on numerous sessions. He played on albums by The Monkees, The 5th Dimension, The Mamas & the Papas and many others, and he was the keyboard player on Elvis Presley’s 1968 “comeback special” NBC program.
In 1970, he played the elegant piano part on “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” a song that he arranged and for which he won a Grammy award. Mr. Knechtel joined pop group Bread in 1971, and he toured and recorded with that band until its 1973 breakup.
Born in Bell, Calif., Knechtel over the years played with artists as diverse as Neil Diamond, Randy Newman, Ray Charles, The Beach Boys, The Doors, Elvis Presley, Hank Williams Jr. and Elvis Costello.
Knechtel was often called back to Los Angeles by music producers, including the influential Rick Rubin, for studio recordings.

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