This is exciting! The Broads recently interviewed Denny Tedesco, who is the producer and director of an upcoming documentary called The Wrecking Crew. It’s all about the studio session musicians who played with the bands of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. We know you’re going to love it! It’s coming out March 13th and we can’t wait. You can see a trailer of it, by clicking on the video below.
Below are some of the highlights of our interview, but you’re definitely going to want to listen to it all the way through. Click the player button at the top of this post, or subscribe to our podcast on ITunes.
The Wrecking Crew was a nickname given to studio musicians in Los Angeles during the 60’s. They would record for The Beach Boys, Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound, Sinatra, Jan and Dean, The Mama’s and Papa’s, Fifth Dimension, Sam Cooke and others. In fact, most music recorded in Los Angeles during the early to mid 60’s was performed by these unsung heroes.
Denny’s dad, Tommy Tedesco, was a member of The Wrecking Crew. He a was guitar player and had an amazing career during the early 1960’s thru the 1980’s. In the 90’s Tommy worked as a session player for films and TV. In 1996 he was unfortunately diagnosed with cancer and was told he had only one year to live. Denny wanted to tell his dad’s and the other session players stories on film.
Denny quickly jumped on it, while his dad was still alive, and started filming. He put his dad, Hal Blaine (one of the greatest rock and roll drummer of all time), Carol Kaye (the only woman bass player at the time) and Plas Johnson (sax player most known for Pink Panther) together in a round table. His idea was based on sort of a Broadway Danny Rose style. Denny explains that musicians are like comedians. They like to sit around and takes jabs at each other. Denny calls them “The Quartet without Instruments.”
His dad passed away in 1997 but Denny was determined to keep the project going. He also interviewed Cher, Dick Clark, and Nancy Sinatra that became a 14 minute demo on film. He used the demo to seek out financing but no one wanted to touch the project. Financiers in the late 90’s didn’t think Denny would be able to convince the record companies and publishers of the music in the film to come terms on licensing agreements. Denny’s demo had 50 songs in it and the finished film has 150. He literally walked into a licensing nightmare.
Denny kept persisting and prayed that funding would be found. He added more interviews with Brian Wilson, Mickey Dolenz, Peter Tork, Al Jardine, Herb Alpert, and more. His wife was beginning to think he was making the most expensive home movie ever! Denny refinanced his house over and over to self-fund the project.
In 2006, with hundreds of hours of footage, he finally found an editor- producer to help him out named Claire Scanlon. She is now a successful film director. In 2008, the film was accepted at South by Southwest, a large film festival in Austin, TX. The reviews were incredible! People were flipping out over it.
But there was another problem…
It was 2008 and Denny had a huge bill due to cover licensing for the music. Until the bill was paid, the film couldn’t be released. Denny kept on promoting the film anyway and ended up going to 50 festivals around the world. The Wrecking Crew won dozens of awards, but still no one would touch it for funding.
In 2009, an article came out in Variety about how directors were struggling to release their music documentaries. The article mentioned how Martin Scorsese was having problems finding distribution for his Stones documentary and how Jonathan Demme was also having difficulty with his film about Neil Young. To Denny’s surprise, the article also mentioned how Denny Tedesco was struggling finding funding for his Wrecking Crew documentary. It blew him away that his name was mentioned along with Scorsese and Demme.
In 2010, Denny was able to re-negotiate his music licensing contracts lowering his outstanding balance.
Many people don’t know this, but two session musicians known to be members of the Wrecking Crew included, Glen Campbell and Leon Russell. They both eventually became famous in their own right. Until the last six months, Leon Russell refused to participate in the film. He thought the name “Wrecking Crew” was BS.
The name “Wrecking Crew” was actually a nickname. In the early 60’s, up and coming studio session musicians began taking any job they could to pay the bills. These often included non-union gigs. The more established musicians felt it was beneath them to play pop rock. They stuck out for more respectable gigs. They also didn’t want the union to bust them. As the younger guys became entrenched and started to play more, the older guys began to believe they would wreck the business. That’s why they started calling them the Wrecking Crew.
Soon, the Wrecking Crew began working on much larger and more lucrative gigs like Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound that kept them busy for years.
Leon Russell turned down Denny’s request for an interview over and over until his guitar player finally convinced him to become part of the project. Denny flew to Nashville on his own dime and ended up doing an hour interview with him.
Last year, in 2014, Denny used Kickstarter as a final push for funds to pay off what was owed to the Musician’s union. Musicians and their heirs receive residuals if a song is used for another purpose, such as a film or commercial. Denny had to raise $200,000. He set a goal on Kickstarter for $250,000 thinking he would receive about $200,000. If you don’t reach your goal on Kickstarter, you won’t get funded. Only 1% with goals over $100,000 make it. Only 49% on any amount ever reach their goal. It was nerve wracking! Denny had everything going against him but, somehow, was able to raise $312,000.00. That paid off the musicians. It also allowed him to continue editing and put the Leon Russell interview into the film.
Even after the Musicians Union bill was paid for and editing was funded, Denny still couldn’t find a distribution deal. Finally, Magnolia Pictures picked it up. They will be releasing the film on March 13, 2015 across America. It will also be available as a Video on Demand (VOD) on ITunes.
All in all, Denny has been working on this project for 19 years.
The production company is still offering sponsorships for the film at different levels. For $1,000 you can pick any song and put a dedication on the film itself. Sponsorships will only be available for a short time. Click here to donate.
To donate and become a sponsor (its tax deductible), please visit www. wreckingcrewfilm.com
On the website, you’ll also be able to watch 90 minutes of outtakes from the film.
The Wrecking Crew has a Facebook fan base of over 42,000 fans. Click here to join in.