Tommy Tedesco

Last updated

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
Genres Jazz fusion, rock, pop, soundtrack
Occupation(s)Musician, composer, teacher
Years active1950s–1990s
Labels Discovery, 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 1977-78 talk-show spoof Fernwood 2 Night and America 2 Night . [5]


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.


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

Selected discography

As leader

As sideman

With Chet Baker

With Bobby Darin

With Sam Cooke

With Peggy Lee

With Johnny Rivers

With Richard Harris

With Al Kooper

With Michael Nesmith

With Paul Anka

With Neil Diamond

With Billy Preston

With Van Dyke Parks

With Michael Franks

With Don Ellis

With Minnie Riperton

With Maria Muldaur

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



Related Research Articles

James Burton American guitarist

James Edward Burton is an American guitarist. A member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame since 2001, Burton has also been recognized by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame and the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum. Critic Mark Demming writes that "Burton has a well-deserved reputation as one of the finest guitar pickers in either country or rock ... Burton is one of the best guitar players to ever touch a fretboard." He is ranked number 19 in Rolling Stone list of 100 Greatest Guitarists.

Scotty Moore

Winfield Scott "Scotty" Moore III was an American guitarist and recording engineer who formed The Blue Moon Boys in 1954, Elvis Presley's backing band. He was studio and touring guitarist for Presley between 1954 and 1968.

Hal Blaine American drummer

Hal Blaine was an American drummer and session musician, estimated to be among the most recorded studio drummers in the history of the music industry, claiming over 35,000 sessions and 6,000 singles. His drumming is featured on 150 US top 10 hits, 40 of which went to number one, as well as many film and television soundtracks.

Session musician Musician hired to perform in recording sessions or live performances

Session musicians, studio musicians, or backing musicians are musicians hired to perform in recording sessions or live performances. The term sideman is also used in the case of live performances. Session musicians are usually not permanent members of a musical ensemble or band. They work behind the scenes and rarely achieve individual fame in their own right as soloists or bandleaders. However, top session musicians are well known within the music industry, and some have become publicly recognized, such as the Wrecking Crew, the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section and The Funk Brothers who worked with Motown Records.

The Wrecking Crew (music) Loose collective of session musicians based in Los Angeles

The Wrecking Crew was a loose collective of session musicians based in Los Angeles whose services were employed for thousands of studio recordings in the 1960s and 1970s, including several hundred Top 40 hits. The musicians were not publicly recognized in their era, but were viewed with reverence by industry insiders. They are now considered one of the most successful and prolific session recording units in music history.

Lincoln Wayne "Chips" Moman was an American record producer, guitarist, and Grammy Award-winning songwriter.

William Everett Strange was an American singer, songwriter, guitarist, and actor. He was a session musician with the famed Wrecking Crew, and was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum as a member of The Wrecking Crew in 2007.

<i>Elvis</i> (1968 TV program) 1968 United States television special

Singer Presents... Elvis is a televised concert of American singer Elvis Presley, aired by NBC on December 3, 1968. It marked Presley's return to live performance after seven years during which his career was centered on the movie business. Presley was unhappy with his distance from musical trends of the time and the low quality movie productions he was involved in.

Lawrence William Knechtel was an American keyboard player and bassist, best known as 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 Grass Roots, Jerry Garcia, and Elvis Presley, and as a member of the 1970s band Bread.

<i>Elvis on Tour</i> 1972 film by Robert Abel

Elvis on Tour is an American musical documentary film released by MGM in 1972. It was the thirty-third and final motion picture to star Elvis Presley before his death in 1977.

Tony Terran

Anthony Terran was an American trumpet player and session musician. He was part of The Wrecking Crew, which was a group of session musicians in Los Angeles, California, who earned wide acclaim in the 1960s. The Wrecking Crew was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum on November 26, 2007.

Harold Ray Bradley was an American guitarist and entrepreneur, who played on many country, rock and pop recordings and produced numerous TV variety shows and movie soundtracks. Having started as a session musician in the 1940s, he was a part of the Nashville A-Team of session players, which included pianist Floyd Cramer and pedal steel guitarist Pete Drake. He is one of the most recorded guitarists in music history.

<i>Command Performances: The Essential 60s Masters II</i> 1995 compilation album by Elvis Presley

Command Performances: The Essential 60s Masters II is a two-disc compilation of studio master recordings by American singer and musician Elvis Presley during the decade of the 1960s, released in 1995 on RCA Records, catalogue number 66601-2. It also includes a booklet with session details and an essay by Susan M. Doll.

<i>Double Trouble</i> (soundtrack) 1967 soundtrack album by Elvis Presley

Double Trouble is the fifteenth soundtrack album by American singer and musician Elvis Presley, released by RCA Victor in mono and stereo, LPM/LSP 3787, in June 1967. It is the soundtrack to the 1967 film of the same name starring Presley. Recording sessions took place at Radio Recorders and at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios in Hollywood, California, on June 28, 29, and 30, 1966. It peaked at number 47 on the Billboard 200.

<i>The Wrecking Crew</i> (2008 film) 2008 film

The Wrecking Crew is a 2008 American documentary film directed by Denny Tedesco, son of guitarist Tommy Tedesco. It covers the story of the Los Angeles–based group of session musicians known as the Wrecking Crew, famed for having played on numerous hit recordings throughout the 1960s and early 1970s. The film premiered at the 2008 South by Southwest Film Festival.

Thomas Clark Cogbill was an American bassist, guitarist and record producer working in the R&B, soul music, and country music genres.

<i>Fun in Acapulco</i> (soundtrack) 1963 soundtrack album by Elvis Presley

Fun in Acapulco is the seventh soundtrack album by American singer and musician Elvis Presley, released on RCA Victor Records in mono and stereo, LPM/LSP 2756, in December 1963. It is the soundtrack to the 1963 film of the same name starring Presley. Recording sessions took place at Radio Recorders in Hollywood on January 22 and 23 and February 27, 1963; and at RCA Studio B in Nashville, Tennessee, on May 26 and 28, 1963. It peaked at number three on the Billboard Top Pop Albums chart.

<i>Spinout</i> (soundtrack) 1966 soundtrack album by Elvis Presley

Spinout is the fourteenth soundtrack album by American singer and musician Elvis Presley, released by RCA Victor in mono and stereo, LPM/LSP 3702, on October 31, 1966. It is the soundtrack to the 1966 film of the same name starring Presley. Recording sessions took place at Radio Recorders in Hollywood, California, on February 16 and 17, 1966. It peaked at number 18 on the Top Pop Albums chart.

Bill Pitman American guitarist and session musician (born 1920)

William Keith Pitman is an American guitarist and session musician.

Mike Deasy American rock and jazz guitarist

Michael William Deasy is an American rock and jazz guitarist. As a session musician, he played on numerous hit singles and albums recorded in Los Angeles in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. He is sometimes credited as Mike Deasy Sr.


  1. 1 2 3 4 Huey, Steve. "Biography of Tommy Tedesco". Allmusic . Rovi Corporation . Retrieved April 4, 2014.
  2. Twin Cities Film Fest Event Features the Jewish Musicians ...  › 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  › 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 ...  › ... ... 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.
  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.