Larry Knechtel

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Larry Knechtel
Birth nameLawrence William Knechtel
Born(1940-08-04)August 4, 1940
Bell, California, U.S.
DiedAugust 20, 2009(2009-08-20) (aged 69)
Yakima, Washington, U.S.
Occupation(s)Session musician
Instrument(s)Keyboards, bass, guitar, harmonica

Lawrence William Knechtel (August 4, 1940 – August 20, 2009) was an American keyboard player and bassist who was a member of the Wrecking Crew, a collection of Los Angeles-based session musicians who worked with such renowned artists as Simon & Garfunkel, Duane Eddy, the Beach Boys, the Mamas & the Papas, the Monkees, the Partridge Family, Billy Joel, the Doors, the Byrds, the Grass Roots,[1][failed verification] Jerry Garcia, and Elvis Presley. He also was a member of the 1970s band Bread.


Born in Bell, California, in 1940, Knechtel began his musical education with piano lessons. In 1957, he joined the Los Angeles-based rock and roll band Kip Tyler and the Flips. In August 1959, he joined instrumentalist Duane Eddy as a member of his band the Rebels. After four years on the road with the band, and continuing to work with Eddy in the recording studio, Knechtel became part of the Los Angeles session musician scene, working with Phil Spector as a pianist to help create Spector's famous "Wall of Sound". Knechtel became a prominent member of session musicians the Wrecking Crew, performing on many hit songs of the period[2] and earning him entry into the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum in 2007. During his time with the Wrecking Crew, he recorded the album The In Harmonica, playing harmonica under the name "Larry Nelson", with backing by other Wrecking Crew members.[3]

In 1970 Knechtel won a Grammy Award for his piano work on "Bridge over Troubled Water" by Simon and Garfunkel. He also played the piano on Johnny Rivers' 1972 hit "Rockin' Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu".

Knechtel joined soft rock band Bread in 1971 after the departure of Robb Royer and remained with the band until their split in 1973. He rejoined the band for subsequent comebacks and reunions.

Knechtel was proficient on other musical instruments, notably the harmonica, guitar, and bass, which can be heard on "Mr. Tambourine Man" by the Byrds, "Stoney End" by Barbra Streisand, "If I Can Dream" by Elvis Presley, and the Doors' debut album. In 1971, he joined the band Bread, where his contributions included bass, keyboards, and the guitar solo on the hit single "The Guitar Man". He also played on sessions for Nancy Sinatra.

During the late 1980s, Knechtel moved to Nashville, where he was signed to a solo recording contract. He released two solo albums in quick succession, Mountain Moods (1989)[4] and Urban Gypsy (1990).[5]

In later years, Knechtel lived in semi-retirement in Yakima, Washington, until his death. He had, however, worked with record producer Rick Rubin, contributing keyboards to albums by Neil Diamond, Arlen Roth and the Dixie Chicks, touring with Elvis Costello and with the Dixie Chicks in support of their Grammy Award-winning album Taking the Long Way. During this time Knechtel contributed guest spots on many recordings for dozens of Northwest artists including Wayman Chapman, Ken Stringfellow (Posies, R.E.M., Big Star), Quakers On Probation, Dimestore Mystery, Elba, Animals at Night, Zera Marvel, Colin Spring, Lesley Rostron & Lovejunkie, and his son, Lonnie Knechtel.

Knechtel died on August 20, 2009, in Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital, Washington, at the age of 69 of an apparent heart attack.[6]

Awards and recognition[edit]

In 2007 Knechtel, along with the other members of the Wrecking Crew, was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, Tennessee.[citation needed]


Solo discography[edit]

  • The In Harmonica (1965, as Larry Nelson)
  • Mountain Moods (1989)[7]
  • Urban Gypsy (1990)[8]

Session work[edit]

With The Everly Brothers

• Beat & Soul ( Warner Brothers ,1965)

With the Byrds

With the We Three Trio

  • The We Three Trio (Mainstream S/6055,56055, 1965)

With Barbra Streisand

With the Beach Boys

With The Doors

With Elvis Presley

With Cher

  • Stars (Warner Bros. Records, 1975)

With the Dameans

With Simon & Garfunkel

With Solomon Burke

  • Electronic Magnetism (MGM Records, 1971)

With the Mamas and the Papas

With Emitt Rhodes

With Elvis Costello

With Paul Simon

With Chet Baker

With Dave Mason

With Nancy Sinatra

  • Sugar (Reprise Records, 1966)

With Albert Hammond

With Howard Roberts

With Cass Elliott

With Evie Sands

  • Any Way That You Want Me (Rev-Ola, 1970)

With Thelma Houston

With Glen Campbell

With Jerry Garcia

With Peter Allen

With Harry Nilsson

With Dan Hill

  • If Dreams Had Wings (Epic Records, 1980)

With Barry Mann

  • Survivor (RCA Victor, 1975)

With Lalo Schifrin

With Roy Orbison

With Jimmy Webb

With José Feliciano

  • 10 to 23 (RCA Victor, 1969)
  • Compartments (RCA Victor, 1973)

With Jackie DeShannon

With Brian Cadd

With Ron Davies

  • Silent Song Through the Land (A&M Records, 1970)

With Bobby Darin

With Art Garfunkel

With Stephen Bishop

With David Clayton-Thomas

  • David Clayton-Thomas (Columbia Records, 1972)

With Jackie Lomax

With Billy Joel

With Barry McGuire

  • Seeds (Myrrh, 1973)
  • Lighten Up (Myrrh, 1974)

With Paul Young

With Dolly Parton

With Al Kooper

With Johnny Rivers

  • Changes (Imperial Records, 1966)
  • Whisky Á Go-Go Revisited (Sunset Records, 1967)
  • Rewind (Imperial Records, 1967)
  • Realization (Imperial Records, 1968)
  • Slim Slo Slider (Imperial Records, 1970)
  • Home Grown (United Artists Records, 1970)
  • L.A. Reggae (United Artists Records, 1972)
  • Blue Suede Shoes (United Artists Records, 1973)
  • New Lovers and Old Friends (Epic Records, 1975)
  • Wild Night (United Artists Records, 1977)
  • Not a Through Street (CBS, 1983)

With John Denver

With Chet Atkins

With Helen Reddy

With Joan Baez

With Arlen Roth

With Neil Diamond


  1. ^ "The Grassroots official website". Retrieved 2015-01-19.
  2. ^ Hartman, Kent (February–March 2007). "The Wrecking Crew". American Heritage. Vol. 58, no. 1.
  3. ^
  4. ^ Larry Knechtel - Mountain Moods Retrieved 10-28-2017.
  5. ^ "Larry Knechtel Biography". Larry Knechtel Family Estate. Archived from the original on 17 January 2013. Retrieved 16 January 2013.
  6. ^ a b "Larry Knechtel, Rock Keyboardist-Arranger, Dies at 69". The New York Times. 25 August 2009.
  7. ^ "Larry Knechtel - Mountain Moods". MusicStack. Retrieved 16 January 2013.
  8. ^ "Larry Knechtel - Urban Gypsy". Discogs. Retrieved 16 January 2013.
  9. ^ "Larry Knechtel". albumlinernotes. Retrieved 2018-02-03.

External links[edit]