It's a little known fact that the music on most of the hit records coming out of California in the late 1950s and early 1960s was played by the same group of musicians.
A new documentary, "The Wrecking Crew," tells the story. However, the film's director, Denny Tedesco, has a challenge: paying for all that music.
He's hoping that a screening in Minneapolis on Thursday will pull back the curtain on some legendary music makers, and help pay for the movie at the same time.
The audience will discover that even iconic American Bandstand host Dick Clark was in the dark when it came to knowing the session players who put the polish acts as diverse as The Beach Boys and Frank Sinatra.
"In the hard core producing area everyone knew what went on," Clark says in the documentary. "Everyone knew that the best musicians played on all the sessions. But we, as the general public didn't know."
The actual Wrecking Crew was a loose-knit group of about 20 to 30 session musicians who worked in Los Angeles. They were young, and initially had a hard time breaking into the business. However, they had an ace in the hole: They were willing to play rock 'n' roll. And that, said Tedesco, is how they got their name.
And Tedesco learned that their history is part of his own family's lore. He's the son of Wrecking Crew guitarist Tommy Tedesco, who put his mark on many hits.
"Hal Blaine was the drummer," Tedesco said. "And he said the older guys, the session musicians of the day, the established guys, said 'These guys are going to wreck the business playing this rock 'n' roll stuff."
But it was rock 'n' roll the public wanted and Tedesco says the Wrecking Crew was happy to oblige. Soon, they were all over the radio.
"They recorded behind the Beach Boys, Jan and Dean. They were Sinatra's back-up band, Elvis, Sam Cooke. They were Phil Spector's Wall of Sound. And they would just go from recording session to recording session constantly," Tedesco said.
The musicians just saw it as a paycheck, but their work was so good and so varied that it became hugely influential, even reaching across the Atlantic to touch the Rolling Stones.
"When Charlie Watts says he was so disappointed when he discovered that five of his favorite rock drummers were Hal Blaine, that's pretty funny," said Tedesco.
The Wrecking Crew wasn't limited to pop songs. Tommy Tedesco also composed some classic TV themes.
"You know as much as my father wants to be remembered for some of the greatest pieces of music he worked on with John Williams, he'll always be remembered as the guy who played the guitar theme to 'Batman,' or 'Green Acres,' or even 'Bonanza.' "
Denny Tedesco began working on the film 15 years ago when doctors diagnosed his father's cancer. He interviewed his dad before he died, as well as a host of the other musicians, and the stars who used them, including Cher, Herb Alpert, Brian Wilson, and Nancy Sinatra.
He would have liked to have had the film out in a couple of years, but he ran into a problem. Tedesco knows that to make a film about musicians, it's good to include their work.
"And I said, 'I can't do this without the music.' There's 133 music cues in the film, and you'll know 130 of them."
Obtaining music rights can be an expensive quagmire, particularly for independent filmmakers. Christie Healey, board chair of IFP Media Arts in St, Paul, which works to support regional independent film making, says there are two issues which can trip up filmmakers.
"One is the cost of music clearance, and the other is not realizing that you need to clear all music that you need in the soundtrack," Healey said.
As the son of a musician, Tedesco knew all about the second pitfall, and soon found out about the reality of the first.
"I'm trying to raise $300,000, you know, just to release this film on DVD and in the theaters," he said.
That's why he's bringing the movie to Minneapolis Thursday evening for two fundraising screenings at the AMC Block E Theaters, and an afterparty at Gleuks. He's already raised a third of the money, and he hopes to get the film out by next year.