Legendary drummer Hal Blaine died today at the age of 90, his family announced on Facebook. “May he rest forever on 2 and 4,” the family said in a statement.
As part of the prolific Los Angeles collective of session musicians the Wrecking Crew, Blaine appeared on many of the biggest hits during the 1960s and 1970s, from the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby” and the Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations” to Frank Sinatra’s “Strangers in the Night” and Barbara Streisand’s “The Way We Were.” He helped Phil Spector develop the Wall of Sound production style at Gold Star Studios and set the bar for rock percussion.
“I coined the name the Wrecking Crew,” Blaine told Modern Drummer in 2005. “All the guys in the suits would say, ‘Oh, no, these kids in their blue jeans and T-shirts are going to wreck the business.”
Blaine also cut records with Elvis Presley, Sam Cooke, Dean Martin, the Monkees, John Lennon, Cher, John Denver, Steely Dan, and many more. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which inducted Blaine in 2000, said Blaine played on 40 No. 1 singles. He once estimated that he played on over 35,000 tracks. Blaine earned a Lifetime Achievement Grammy in 2018.
“I’m so sad, I don’t know what to say,” Brian Wilson told the Los Angeles Times. “Hal Blaine was such a great musician and friend that I can’t put it into words. Hal taught me a lot, and he had so much to do with our success – he was the greatest drummer ever. We also laughed an awful lot. Hal, we love you and our memories will last forever.”
Wrecking Crew keyboardist Don Randi told Variety, “He was a trend setter for rock and roll drumming.”
Blaine’s family said he is survived by his daughter Michelle and seven grandchildren. Read the full statement and enjoy a few of Blaine’s records below.