|Birth name||Thomas J. Tedesco|
July 3, 1930|
Niagara Falls, New York, US
|Died||November 10, 1997
Northridge, California, US
|Genres||Jazz, bebop, rock and roll, pop|
|Occupation(s)||Musician, session musician|
Tedesco's credits include the iconic brand-burning accompaniment theme from television's Bonanza, The Twilight Zone, Vic Mizzy's iconic theme from Green Acres, M*A*S*H, Batman, and Elvis Presley's '68 Comeback Special. He was shown on-camera for a number of game and comedy shows, and played ex-con guitarist Tommy Marinucci, a member of Happy Kyne's Mirth-Makers, in the talk-show spoof Fernwood 2 Night.
Born in Niagara Falls, New York, Tedesco made his way to the U.S. West Coast where he became one of the most-sought-after studio guitarists between the 1960s and 1980s. Although Tedesco was primarily a guitar player, he also played the mandolin, ukulele, and the sitar as well as 28 other stringed instruments (though he played all of them in guitar tuning).
Tedesco was described by Guitar Player magazine as the most recorded guitarist in history, having played on thousands of recordings, many of which were top-20 hits. He recorded with most of the top musicians working in the Los Angeles area including the Beach Boys, the Mamas & the Papas, the Everly Brothers, the Association, Barbra Streisand, Jan and Dean, the 5th Dimension, Elvis Presley, Sam Cooke, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Zappa, Ricky Nelson, Cher, and Nancy and Frank Sinatra as well as on Richard Harris's classic "MacArthur Park". His playing can be found on Jack Nitzsche's "The Lonely Surfer", on Wayne Newton's version of "Danke Schoen", B. Bumble and the Stingers's "Nut Rocker", the Rip Chords' "Hey Little Cobra", the Ronettes' "Be My Baby", the Sandpipers' "Guantanamera", the T-Bones' "No Matter What Shape'" and Nino Tempo & April Stevens' version of "Deep Purple". For Guitar Player, Tedesco wrote a regular column called "Studio Log" in which he would describe a day's work recording a movie, TV show or album, the special challenges each job posed and how he solved them, what instruments he used, and how much money he made on the job.
Tedesco also performed for film soundtracks such as The French Connection, The Godfather, Jaws, The Deer Hunter, Field of Dreams, plus several Elvis Presley films. He was also the guitarist for the Original Roxy cast of The Rocky Horror Show. Additionally, he performed the opening guitar solo for the Howard Hawkes and John Wayne film Rio Lobo. He was one of the very few sidemen credited for work on animated cartoons for the The Ant and the Aardvark cartoons (1968–1971).
On his own, Tedesco recorded a number of jazz guitar albums, but his musical career ended in 1992 when he suffered a stroke that resulted in partial paralysis. The following year he published his autobiography, Confessions of a Guitar Player.
Tedesco died of lung cancer in 1997, at the age of 67, in Northridge, California. His son, Denny Tedesco, directed the 2008 documentary film The Wrecking Crew, which features interviews with Tommy and many of his fellow session musicians. The film finally saw theatrical release in 2015 after musical rights were cleared (it had played film festivals years back, where clearance rights were not needed).
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With Chet Baker
- Blood, Chet and Tears (Verve, 1970)
With Don Ellis
- Haiku (MPS, 1974)
With Lalo Schifrin
- The Cincinnati Kid (soundtrack) (MGM, 1965)
- Music from Mission: Impossible (Dot, 1967)
- More Mission: Impossible (Paramount, 1968)
- Mannix (Paramount, 1968)
- The Fox (soundtrack) (MGM, 1968)
- Che! (soundtrack) (Tetragrammaton, 1969)
- Kelly's Heroes (soundtrack) (MGM, 1970)
- Enter the Dragon (soundtrack) (Warner Bros., 1973)
- Tedesco, Tommy (1981). For Guitar Players Only. Alfred Music. ISBN 978-0739053812.
- Tedesco, Tommy (1988). Tommy Tedesco: Anatomy of a Guitar Player. Mel Bay Publications. ISBN 978-1562223526.
- Tedesco, Tommy (1993). Confessions of a Guitar Player. Centerstream Publications. ISBN 978-0931759710.
- Huey, Steve. "Biography of Tommy Tedesco". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 4 April 2014.
- "Tommy Tedesco; Preeminent Studio Guitarist". Los Angeles Times. 12 November 1997.
- "Tommy Tedesco Profile". Space Age Pop Music. Retrieved 4 April 2014.
- "Tommy Tedesco, 67, A Studio Guitarist". The New York Times. 12 November 1997.
- AFM contracts with dates/players
- Tommy Tedesco discography at Discogs
- Tommy Tedesco at the Internet Movie Database
- Tommy Tedesco at Find a Grave