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HAL BLAINE,
1929-2019

Drummer Hal Blaine, widely celebrated as the world’s most-recorded musician, died on 3/11, a few weeks after turning 90. The family broke the sad news on Blaine’s Facebook page with the wish, “May he rest forever on the 2 and 4.”

Blaine, whose given name was Harold Simon Belsky, was born in Holyoke, Mass., on  Feb. 5, 1929. He started playing professionally in 1948 and joined Tommy Sands’ band in the late ’50s. As the ringleader of legendary 1960s L.A. session band The Wrecking Crew, Blaine played on 40 chart-topping singles—starting in 1961 with Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love”—and 150 that made the Top 10. His enormous discography includes numerous fruitful sessions with Phil Spector and Brian Wilson. The Guardian has posted takes on "Be My Baby," "Good Vibrations" and three more Blaine-powered gems. 

“I was so busy working back then that I rarely had time to listen to the music I made, except maybe on the car radio on the way to the recording studio, which really was my home life,” he recalled.

Blaine marked his session sheets with a rubberstamp reading “HAL BLAINE STRIKES AGAIN.” Max Weinberg asked him about the stamp while interviewing Blaine for his book, The Big Beat: Conversations With Rock's Great Drummers. “‘I always stamp my charts. And there’s a reason why I started that; it wasn't all ego.’ He went on to describe that occasionally he would need to find a particular chart amidst ‘500 pieces of music in a pile’ and he needed some mark to do so. “Eventually I had a rubber stamp made up, and from that day on I’ve always stamped every piece of music I play, whether it’s a demo or something I play at a friend’s house.’”

In 1990, he became one of the first studio drummers inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and he received a Grammy Special Merit Award last year. Blaine spent his later years in Palm Desert, leaving his home every now and then to participate in drum clinics. There's not a drummer on this planet who doesn't revere the man and his work.

Recording Academy boss Neil Portnow issued the following statement:

Hal Blaine was a legendary session drummer whose contributions as a member of the Wrecking Crew helped propel countless hits to the top of the Billboard charts in the '60s and '70s. A Recording Academy™ Lifetime Achievement Award recipient in 2018, Hal played on tracks that won the Grammy Award for Record Of The Year six successive times, from 1965-1970. He contributed to tens of thousands of songs throughout his career, including the Beach Boys' "Caroline, No" and Simon & Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water." We extend our deepest condolences to his family, friends, and fellow music creators.

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