"May he rest forever on 2 and 4"
March 12, 2019 2:42 PM   Subscribe

Hal Blaine, the studio drummer who lent his signature sounds and structure to scores of Grammy-winning and chart-topping songs — from Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin to the Byrds and the Beach Boys — died Monday at the age of 90. Blaine's family announced his death in a statement published to Facebook. Even if you think you don't know him, you know him. posted by Johnny Wallflower (50 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
posted by jim in austin at 2:59 PM on March 12

posted by parki at 3:05 PM on March 12

posted by evilDoug at 3:06 PM on March 12

As someone I normally don’t agree with on anything posted on facebook: “Played on more of my favorite songs than any other human being.”

posted by TedW at 3:07 PM on March 12 [9 favorites]

This is a truly irreplaceable loss. If he had only ever created the signature "Be My Baby" beat, he'd still be a legend.
Hal Blaine Strikes Again.
. .. tssh
posted by ApathyGirl at 3:09 PM on March 12 [6 favorites]

posted by pyramid termite at 3:12 PM on March 12 [5 favorites]

Shoot. I've had Deuces, "T's", Roadsters & Drums on steady rotation for the last couple years. Classic. When I'm trying to play drums that's always what I'm shooting for in the back of my head.
posted by aspersioncast at 3:15 PM on March 12 [1 favorite]

Hal Blaine's 479 credits on discogs.com for "instruments and performance" begin in 1963 with a Jan & Dean album and apparently his final studio sessions were for a David Grisman album in 2006. The list of people he worked with between those two recordings is so varied and ridiculous it's easily 5 lifetimes of work.

He was so good, and he was everywhere.

posted by hippybear at 3:26 PM on March 12 [11 favorites]

posted by bonobothegreat at 3:31 PM on March 12

posted by misteraitch at 3:43 PM on March 12

Jeez, Blain alone probably drops the world’s average “6 degrees of Kevin Bacon” score by a full point!
posted by darkstar at 3:44 PM on March 12 [2 favorites]

There's just not enough Good Vibrations in that best of clip. Here's some outtake footage, some with Hal.

posted by SoundInhabitant at 4:02 PM on March 12 [6 favorites]

posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:09 PM on March 12

posted by Joey Michaels at 4:13 PM on March 12

I swear I typed Blaine.
posted by darkstar at 4:42 PM on March 12 [1 favorite]

Friends were posting their favorite Hal Blaine clips on Facebook last night and I suddenly realized that he absolutely had to be the drummer on "The Kind Of Girl I Could Love" by The Monkees. I almost broke my steering wheel back in high school banging along to that.

And yep, he was.

posted by queensissy at 5:07 PM on March 12 [5 favorites]

Amazing. Never heard of him before today. What a career.
posted by kerf at 5:10 PM on March 12 [3 favorites]

He was an unbelievable talent! Many of us heard his work, but never heard his name. Snare rolls for this god of drummers as he ascends into heaven.
posted by Lynsey at 5:34 PM on March 12 [1 favorite]

posted by Cash4Lead at 5:37 PM on March 12

posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 5:47 PM on March 12

Anyone who hasn't seen 'The Wrecking Crew' documentary owes it to themselves to check it out, so many fantastic studio musicians and so much background on them and on the records they played on. fwiw Pet Sounds never happens without The Wrecking Crew and Sgt. Pepper never happens without Pet Sounds.

posted by dancestoblue at 6:51 PM on March 12 [10 favorites]

posted by pt68 at 7:04 PM on March 12

posted by petebest at 7:34 PM on March 12

posted by kinnakeet at 7:52 PM on March 12

Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei. Requiescat in pace.
posted by ob1quixote at 8:06 PM on March 12 [1 favorite]

I suspect his work on the Bridge Over Troubled Water album (one of the few "rock" albums my parents had) had a lot to do with me starting to think about how music is built, to listen to how many different parts all add up to a greater whole.

posted by soundguy99 at 8:22 PM on March 12 [4 favorites]

posted by jabo at 8:35 PM on March 12

Never heard of him before today.

Same. I've been seeing people on fb post lists of songs the guy played on, and I was amazed at every list I saw, but hearing all the drum parts in a row from this vid just fricking shook me. So many songs where he's just adding soooooo much, deargawd.

posted by 23skidoo at 8:46 PM on March 12

posted by Blue Jello Elf at 9:05 PM on March 12

posted by Barack Spinoza at 9:25 PM on March 12

posted by Mister Bijou at 9:26 PM on March 12

posted by equalpants at 10:26 PM on March 12

posted by Silverstone at 10:26 PM on March 12

posted by bryon at 11:08 PM on March 12

Blaine's numbers are incredible – the estimated 35,000 sessions, the 40 #1 hits, the 150 Top 40 hits – but the most amazing thing might be that he played on the Grammy Record of the Year six times in a row, from 1966–1971, for artists as different as Frank Sinatra, Simon and Garfunkel, the 5th Dimension, and the Tijuana Brass.

In memoriam, the drummer's blog I'd Hit That just brought its 2013 interview with Blaine back out from behind its paywall. Almost three hours long, it features him, in his 80s, telling one story after another about not only music, but also about hanging out with friends like Lenny Bruce and Don Rickles, playing as a young man in strip clubs owned by the Mafia, even his time as a plainclothes policeman.
posted by LeLiLo at 11:17 PM on March 12 [7 favorites]

posted by Wordshore at 1:47 AM on March 13

posted by Gelatin at 2:13 AM on March 13

posted by filtergik at 5:11 AM on March 13

posted by tallmiddleagedgeek at 7:28 AM on March 13

This reminds me, I never made an obit post for bassist Joe Osborn. Not too many of that generation of studio greats are left, I'm afraid.
posted by thelonius at 7:43 AM on March 13 [4 favorites]

Tying in the recent passing of fellow Wrecking Crew member Joe Osborn shouldn't count as a derail in a Hal Blaine post. They were rhythm section partners on more than half of the tunes featured in Hal's "best of" video linked above. His tone was unmistakable.

Joe Osborn's equally impressive album credits

Hal and Joe letting loose when 'Aquarius' shifts into 'Let the Sun Shine In'

In the frame of a lifetime, passing within 3 months of each other still counts as being "in the pocket".
posted by rocket88 at 8:36 AM on March 13 [6 favorites]

Thanks for posting this, it reminded me to finally watch The Wrecking Crew, which is streaming on Hulu right now. So great.
posted by suelac at 10:19 AM on March 13 [1 favorite]

posted by the sobsister at 10:45 AM on March 13

posted by dogstoevski at 6:32 PM on March 13

posted by TWinbrook8 at 6:34 AM on March 14

posted by Salient at 6:42 AM on March 14

Tying in the recent passing of fellow Wrecking Crew member Joe Osborn shouldn't count as a derail in a Hal Blaine post.

Was someone saying that was a derail? That's crazypants. Thanks for the well-said defense
posted by thelonius at 8:54 AM on March 14

The Drummer Hal Blaine Provided the Beat for American Music (Amanda Petrusich, New Yorker)
It seems likely that the drummer Hal Blaine—who died on Monday, at age ninety, of natural causes, at his home, in Palm Desert, California—has done more to quicken my heartbeat than any other American musician. By his own estimation, he played on more than six thousand songs as a member of the Wrecking Crew, a Los Angeles-based cabal of studio professionals who began as the producer Phil Spector’s house band but ended up appearing on hundreds of Top Forty hits. The odd, nervous titters in the Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations,” that eager on-the-four snare at the start of the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby,” the drums on Elvis Presley’s “Return to Sender,” the theme from “Batman,” Frank Sinatra’s “Strangers in the Night,” Sam Cooke’s “Another Saturday Night,” The Byrds’ “Mr. Tambourine Man,” The Monkees’ “Mary, Mary,” and Barbra Streisand’s “The Way We Were”—it’s all Blaine. Brian Wilson recently called him “the greatest drummer ever.” He is so unquestionably essential to the last half century of American popular music—to the national condition—that it almost feels as though his face should be on currency.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 11:32 AM on March 14 [2 favorites]

posted by Rash at 3:57 PM on March 14

"Can I contribute, in some way, in helping show the world how uniquely fabulous was Hal. His tenderness, those blue eyes, his drumming, the way his hands moved when he told a joke. I loved him dearly; the closeness is in our recordings."

-- Art Garfunkel
posted by Capt. Renault at 12:58 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]

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