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Tommy Tedesco

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Tommy Tedesco
Tedesco in 1979
Tedesco in 1979
Background information
Birth nameThomas Joseph Tedesco
Born(1930-07-03)July 3, 1930
Niagara Falls, New York, U.S.
OriginLos Angeles
DiedNovember 10, 1997(1997-11-10) (aged 67)
Northridge, California, U.S.
GenresJazz fusion, rock, pop, soundtrack
Occupation(s)Musician, composer, teacher
Years active1950s–1990s
LabelsDiscovery, Capri

Thomas Joseph Tedesco (July 3, 1930 – November 10, 1997) was an American guitarist and studio musician in Los Angeles and Hollywood.[1] He was part of the loose collective of the area's leading session musicians later popularly known as The Wrecking Crew, who played on thousands of studio recordings in the 1960s and 1970s, including several hundred Top 40 hits.

Tedesco's playing credits include the theme from television's Bonanza, The Twilight Zone, Vic Mizzy's theme from Green Acres, M*A*S*H, Batman, and Elvis Presley's '68 Comeback Special. Tedesco was shown on-camera in a number of game and comedy shows, and played ex-con guitarist Tommy Marinucci, a member of Happy Kyne's Mirth-Makers, in the 1977–78 talk-show spoof Fernwood 2 Night and America 2 Night.[2]


Born in Niagara Falls, New York, Tedesco moved to the West Coast where he became one of the most-sought-after studio musicians between the 1960s and 1980s.[1] Although he was primarily a guitar player, he also played mandolin, ukulele, sitar and over twenty other stringed instruments.

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.[3] 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.[1]

Tedesco also performed on film soundtracks such as The French Connection, The Godfather, Jaws, The Deer Hunter, Field of Dreams, Gloria 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 Hawks and John Wayne film Rio Lobo. He was one of the very few sidemen credited for work on animated cartoons for The Ant and the Aardvark cartoons (1968–1971).

As a solo artist, 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.[1]

Tedesco died of lung cancer in 1997, at the age of 67, in Northridge, California.[4] His son, Denny Tedesco (related to Damon Tedesco and Suzie Greene Tedesco,[5]) 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. Before that it had been screened only at film festivals, where clearance rights were not required.


In 2017, Tommy Tedesco was posthumously inducted into the Niagara Falls Music Hall of Fame.


As leader[edit]

  • The Electric Twelve-String Guitar (Imperial, 1964)
  • The Guitars of Tommy Tedesco (Imperial, 1965)
  • Calypso Soul (Imperial, 1966)
  • With Love from the 50 Guitars (Musicor, 1977)
  • Autumn (Trend, 1978)
  • When Do We Start (Discovery, 1978)
  • Alone at Last (Trend, 1979)
  • Thomas Tedesco and Ocean (Nimbus West, 1982)
  • Carnival Time (Discovery, 1983)
  • Hollywood Gypsy (Discovery, 1986)
  • My Desiree (Discovery, 1989)
  • Fine Fretted Friend (Discovery, 1992)
  • Tommy Tedesco Performs Roumanis' Jazz Rhapsody for Guitar & Orchestra (Capri, 1992)[6]

As sideman[edit]

With Paul Anka

  • The Music Man (United Artists, 1977)

With Hoyt Axton

  • Saturday's Child (Horizon, 1963)

With Joan Baez

With Chet Baker

With The Beach Boys

With Stephen Bishop

With Bill Conti

  • Gloria (Columbia, 1980)[7]

With Sam Cooke

With The Dameans

  • Walk To The Gloryland (RCA, 1971)

With J. J. Cale

With Terry Callier

  • Turn You to Love (Elektra, 1979)

With The Crystals

With Bobby Darin

With Jackie DeShannon

  • Jackie DeShannon (Liberty, 1963)

With Neil Diamond

With The 5th Dimension

With Don Ellis

With Aretha Franklin

With Michael Franks

With Art Garfunkel

With Gale Garnett

  • Gale Garnett Sings About Flying and Rainbows and Love and Other Groovy Things (RCA Victor, 1967)

With Richard Harris

With Johnny Hartman

With Quincy Jones

With Al Kooper

With Peggy Lee

With Kenny Loggins

With The Mamas & the Papas

With Hugh Masekela

With Roger McGuinn

With Maria Muldaur

  • Waitress in the Donut Shop (Reprise, 1974)

With Walter Murphy

  • Discosymphony (New York International, 1979)

With Anne Murray

With Michael Nesmith

With Randy Newman

With Harry Nilsson

With Jack Nitzsche

With Van Dyke Parks

With Billy Preston

With Minnie Riperton

With Johnny Rivers

  • Changes (Imperial, 1966)

With Linda Ronstadt

With Leon Russell

With The Sandpipers

With Lalo Schifrin

With Sarah Vaughan


  • 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.


  • 2008 The Wrecking Crew, a documentary put together by his son Denny Tedesco


External links[edit]