Tommy Tedesco

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Tommy Tedesco
Birth nameThomas J. 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
GenresJazz fusion, rock, pop, soundtrack
Occupation(s)Musician, composer, teacher
InstrumentsGuitar
Years active1950s–1990s
LabelsDiscovery, Capri

Thomas J. 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 was Catholic and Italian American.[2][3][4]

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 talk-show spoof Fernwood 2 Night.[5]

Career[edit]

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.[6] 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.[7] His son, Denny Tedesco (related to Damon Tedesco and Suzie Greene Tedesco[8]), 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.

Awards[edit]

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

Selected discography[edit]

As leader[edit]

  • The Electric Twelve-String Guitar (Imperial Records, 1964)
  • The Guitars of Tommy Tedesco (Imperial Records, 1965)
  • Calypso Soul (Imperial Records, 1966)
  • When Do We Start (Discovery, 1978)
  • Autumn (Trend, 1978)
  • Alone At Last (Trend, 1979)
  • My Desiree (Discovery, 1981)
  • Carnival Time (Trend/Discovery, 1983)
  • Hollywood Gypsy (Discovery, 1986)
  • Tommy Tedesco Performs Roumanis' Jazz Rhapsody for Guitar & Orchestra (Capri, 1992)[9]

As sideman[edit]

With Chet Baker

With Bobby Darin

With Sam Cooke

With Peggy Lee

With Johnny Rivers

  • Changes (Imperial Records, 1966)

With Al Kooper

With Michael Nesmith

With Paul Anka

  • The Music Man (United Artists Records, 1977)

With Neil Diamond

With Van Dyke Parks

With Michael Franks

With Don Ellis

With Minnie Riperton

With Maria Muldaur

  • Waitress in the Donut Shop (Reprise Records, 1974)

With Leon Russell

With Aretha Franklin

With Art Garfunkel

With J. J. Cale

With Quincy Jones

With Stephen Bishop

With Kenny Loggins

With Jack Nitzsche

With Sarah Vaughan

With Lalo Schifrin

With Randy Newman

With Hugh Masekela

With Linda Ronstadt

With Joan Baez

Bibliography[edit]

  • 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.

Videography[edit]

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

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Huey, Steve. "Biography of Tommy Tedesco". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved April 4, 2014.
  2. ^ Twin Cities Film Fest Event Features the Jewish Musicians ... https://tcjewfolk.com › twin-cities-film-fest-kickoff-features-jewish-musicia... Sep 24, 2015 - They played for TV, film scores and multiple genres of American ... He, Randi and Denny Tedesco, who father, Tommy, was a guitarist in The Wrecking Crews...
  3. ^ The Jewish Chronicle: 2015-08-14 - No one ... - PressReader https://www.pressreader.com › the-jewish-chronicle Aug 14, 2015 - A loving and highly enjoyable DVD called The Wrecking Crew, directed by the son of the wonderful late guitarist Tommy Tedesco, has them ...
  4. ^ Father-daughter musicians to team up at Jacob's Ladder ... https://www.haaretz.com › ... ... lives in Zichron Ya'akov, says he received from his late friend Tommy Tedesco - the artist ... "Tedesco wasn't that well known, but he was the studio artist behind ... with English-speakers, include the American Celtic music band Henri's Notions, ... up The Shuk, an Israeli ensemble playing Jewish, World, and Israeli Music.
  5. ^ "Tommy Tedesco; Preeminent Studio Guitarist". Los Angeles Times. November 12, 1997.
  6. ^ "Tommy Tedesco Profile". Space Age Pop Music. Retrieved April 4, 2014.
  7. ^ "Tommy Tedesco, 67, A Studio Guitarist". The New York Times. November 12, 1997.
  8. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hhl-3EOYTkc
  9. ^ "Tommy Tedesco | Album Discography | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved October 4, 2016.
  10. ^ "Gloria: Colourful, complex action/drama score from Conti: A review by James Southall". Movie-Wave. 2006. Retrieved December 1, 2015.

External links[edit]