Larry Knechtel

Lawrence William Knechtel (August 4, 1940 – August 20, 2009) 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,[1][failed verification] Jerry Garcia, and Elvis Presley, and as a member of the 1970s band Bread.

Larry Knechtel
Birth nameLawrence William Knechtel
Born(1940-08-04)August 4, 1940
Bell, California, U.S.
DiedAugust 20, 2009(2009-08-20) (aged 69)
Yakima, Washington, U.S.
Occupation(s)Session musician
InstrumentsKeyboards, bass, guitar, harmonica
Associated acts


Born in Bell, California, in 1940, Knechtel began his musical education with piano lessons. In 1957, he joined the Los Angeles-based rock and roll band Kip Tyler and the Flips. In August 1959, he joined instrumentalist Duane Eddy as a member of his band the Rebels. After four years on the road with the band, and continuing to work with Eddy in the recording studio, Knechtel became part of the Los Angeles session musician scene, working with Phil Spector as a pianist to help create Spector's famous "Wall of Sound". Knechtel became a prominent member of session musicians the Wrecking Crew, performing on many hit songs of the period[2] and earning him entry into the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum in 2007. Knechtel was Jewish.[3][4]

In 1970 Knechtel won a Grammy Award for his piano work on "Bridge over Troubled Water" by Simon and Garfunkel. He also played the piano on Johnny Rivers' 1972 hit "Rockin' Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu".

Knechtel was proficient on other musical instruments, notably the harmonica, guitar and bass, which can be heard on "Mr. Tambourine Man" by the Byrds, "Stoney End" by Barbra Streisand, "If I Can Dream" by Elvis Presley, and the Doors' debut album. In 1971, he joined the band Bread, where his contributions included bass, keyboards and the guitar solo on the hit single "The Guitar Man". He also played on sessions for Nancy Sinatra.

During the late 1980s, Knechtel moved to Nashville, where he was signed to a solo recording contract. He released two solo albums in quick succession, Mountain Moods (1989)[5] and Urban Gypsy (1990).[6]

In later years, Knechtel lived in semi-retirement in Yakima, Washington, until his death. He had, however, worked with record producer Rick Rubin, contributing keyboards to albums by Neil Diamond, Arlen Roth and the Dixie Chicks, touring with Elvis Costello and with the Dixie Chicks in support of their Grammy Award-winning album Taking the Long Way. During this time Knechtel contributed guest spots on many recordings for dozens of Northwest artists including Wayman Chapman, Ken Stringfellow (Posies, R.E.M., Big Star), Quakers On Probation, Dimestore Mystery, Elba, Animals at Night, Zera Marvel, Colin Spring, Lesley Rostron & Lovejunkie, and his son, Lonnie Knechtel.

Knechtel died on August 20, 2009, in Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital, Washington, at the age of 69 of an apparent heart attack.[7]

Awards and RecognitionEdit

In 2007 Knechtel, along with the other members of The Wrecking Crew, was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, Tennessee.[citation needed]


Solo DiscographyEdit

  • Mountain Moods (1989)[8]
  • Urban Gypsy (1990)[9]

Session WorkEdit

With The Byrds

With The We Three Trio

  • The We Three Trio (Mainstream S/6055,56055, 1965)

With Barbra Streisand

With The Beach Boys

With The Doors

With Elvis Presley

With Cher

  • Stars (Warner Bros. Records, 1975)

With Simon & Garfunkel

With Solomon Burke

  • Electronic Magnetism (MGM Records, 1971)

With The Mamas and the Papas

With Emitt Rhodes

With Paul Simon

With Chet Baker

With Dave Mason

With Nancy Sinatra

  • Sugar (Reprise Records, 1966)

With Howard Roberts

With Thelma Houston

With Glen Campbell

With Jerry Garcia

With Peter Allen

With Harry Nilsson

With Barry Mann

  • Survivor (RCA Victor, 1975)

With Lalo Schifrin

With Jimmy Webb

With José Feliciano

  • 10 to 23 (RCA Victor, 1969)
  • Compartments (RCA Victor, 1973)

With Jackie DeShannon

With Brian Cadd

With Bobby Darin

With Art Garfunkel

With Stephen Bishop

With David Clayton-Thomas

  • David Clayton-Thomas (Columbia Records, 1972)

With Jackie Lomax

With Billy Joel

With Barry McGuire

  • Seeds (Myrrh, 1973)
  • Lighten Up (Myrrh, 1974)

With Paul Young

With Dolly Parton

With Al Kooper

With Johnny Rivers

  • Changes (Imperial Records, 1966)
  • Whisky Á Go-Go Revisited (Sunset Records, 1967)
  • Rewind (Imperial Records, 1967)
  • Realization (Imperial Records, 1968)
  • Slim Slo Slider (Imperial Records, 1970)
  • Home Grown (United Artists Records, 1970)
  • L.A. Reggae (United Artists Records, 1972)
  • Blue Suede Shoes (United Artists Records, 1973)
  • New Lovers and Old Friends (Epic Records, 1975)
  • Wild Night (United Artists Records, 1977)
  • Not a Through Street (CBS, 1983)

With John Denver

With Chet Atkins

With Helen Reddy

With Joan Baez

With Arlen Roth

With Neil Diamond


  1. ^ "The Grassroots official website". Retrieved 2015-01-19.
  2. ^ Hartman, Kent (February–March 2007). "The Wrecking Crew". American Heritage. 58 (1).
  3. ^ Larry Knechtel | San Diego Jewish World › tag › larry-knechtel Tag Archive | "Larry Knechtel". Adventures in San Diego Jewish History, June 25, 1954, Part 2. Posted on 19 June 2010. Tags: 'A Phoenxi Too Frequent', ...
  4. ^ The Secret Jewish History of the Beach Boys – The Forward › culture › the-secret-jewish-history-of-the-beach-boys Aug 26, 2014 - Among those who actually played on The Beach Boys' most critically acclaimed tracks are organist Mike Melvoin, pianist Larry Knechtel, ...
  5. ^ Larry Knechtel - Mountain Moods Retrieved 10-28-2017.
  6. ^ "Larry Knechtel Biography". Larry Knechtel Family Estate. Archived from the original on 17 January 2013. Retrieved 16 January 2013.
  7. ^ a b "Larry Knechtel, Rock Keyboardist-Arranger, Dies at 69". The New York Times. 25 August 2009.
  8. ^ "Larry Knechtel - Mountain Moods". MusicStack. Retrieved 16 January 2013.
  9. ^ "Larry Knechtel - Urban Gypsy". Discogs. Retrieved 16 January 2013.
  10. ^ "Larry Knechtel". albumlinernotes. Retrieved 2018-02-03.

External linksEdit