Today, the greatest studio drummer of them all passed away. Hal Blaine set down his sticks for the last time, at 90. In my opinion, he invented more beat patterns than even Ringo. He was a consummate pro and quite a nice man. Years ago, my wife Kathlyn bought his book and he not only signed it but also hand drew a great cartoon of him flailing away behind a massive kit. He scribbled a sweet note to Kathlyn, along with the funny cartoon.
I got to talk with him on the phone the day that we placed the order for his book and we chatted about some of my favorite drum patterns that he created. As a drummer myself, he was one of my heroes and I learned to play many of his beat constructions. RIP, Hal Blaine. You were one of the true monsters in music.
I should note that I started writing some of these thoughts and collecting some of these videos on my Facebook page, where Kathlyn replied:
Here are just a few highlights from a career that included 40 #1 hits, 150 top 10s, some 6000+ singles, and 35,000 tracks, among them some of the greatest songs ever recorded.
Hal's beat construction on this one is brilliant, side-sticking and so many other techniques used in this Latin-pop inspired ditty. I hated this song as a kid but as I became a more adept and proficient drummer, I realized what brilliance Hal brought to Jimmy Webb's "Up Up and Away."
One of my personal favorites is Simon & Garfunkel's "Hazy Shade of Winter."
Or would it be his drums on The Byrds' "Mr. Tambourine Man"?
And don't get me started on how I loved "Along Comes Mary."
Why yes, it's Hal Blaine yet again...
And who could forget The Beach Boys best song, with Hal Blaine on drums...
Here's a Grammy tribute to Hal featuring Herb Alpert, one of the greatest friends ever to recording artists. Herb's A&M Records was an oasis for artists in what was far too often, a desert. All my friends who worked for the label loved it and had not an unkind word for the man.
And 13 minutes of awesome music featuring Hal and friends from the documentary The Wrecking Crew.
Finally, here's an interactive list featuring a few highlights from Hal's career. Take a look and let us know about some of your favorites.