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"The Wrecking Crew" Needs Your Help

The documentary on early studio musicians struggles with music licensing fees.

The story of The Wrecking Crew documentary started with the birth of rock ’n’ roll. “The Wrecking Crew” was the nickname given to the group of studio musicians that formed countless beats, grooves, and melodies that are now ingrained in the history of modern music—musicians that were unknown to listeners for generations. Ironically, the documentary about them is struggling to break through to the mainstream, too. That’s why we suggest you visit and watch the trailer. It’ll be one of the coolest things you see online this month.

The trailer hints at why the film gained critical acclaim and won awards at regional and major film festivals in 2008. You hear Cher, Brian Wilson, and Dick Clark reminisce about the Crew’s incredible talent and output. And Crew members like Tommy Tedesco, Hal Blaine, and Glen Campbell share their memories. Underneath it all is a soundtrack of hits you’d never suspect were created by the same musicians—songs like Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’,” the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby,” and even the Beach Boys’ “California Girls.”

The film was conceived by Denny Tedesco, son of Crew guitarist Tommy Tedesco, as a tribute to his dying father in the mid ’90s. Tedesco compiled interviews with members of the Wrecking Crew and the musical acts they recorded for, along with original photographs and footage, and spliced it all together with the star of the show—the songs—to tell the story of these unsung heroes.

Despite his passion to make it happen, funding was hard to come by. “People said, ‘You have way too much music, you’ll never get this made,’” he explained. “I put everything I had into it, my house, credit cards—you’re not supposed to do that, but I had no choice because it’s a personal story for me. It went too far, and I had to finish it.” After 14 years of work, with the help of his wife, family, and longtime-friends, Tedesco completed the film in 2008.

However, despite the acclaim, Tedesco still lacks the funds to bring it to wide release due to music licensing costs. In order to do justice to the musicians featured in the film, The Wrecking Crew is packed with over 100 songs—which translates into a hefty licensing tab. But Tedesco is quick to point out that the record labels aren’t the villains in this story. “They’ve given me incredible rates,” he said. The goal is, at the very least, to be able to release the film on DVD. But after years of being told that it wouldn’t happen, Tedesco is optimistic. “I have $250,000 to go but I know I can do it. This is the first time in 14 years that I’m not waiting for an angel to come in, or a distributor. When the money comes in, I immediately turn around and pay off a label. There’s nothing better than writing that check to Lionel Records.”

Public and private fundraising screenings are being held across the country at music stores, schools, clubs, guitar shows, libraries, and more. Tedesco explains, “It’s not often people can say, ‘I helped that film get out there.’ Every five or 10 dollars helps.”

A list of regional screenings is available online. In addition, the filmmakers are taking donations of any amount, as well as “dedications” for each specific song. Dedications cost $1000, and include a personal message to be shown in a chapter of the DVD. Whether or not you choose to donate is up to you, but at the very least, log on, read the story, and watch the trailer.