Thomas J. Tedesco (July 3, 1930 – November 10, 1997) was an American guitarist and studio musician in Los Angeles and Hollywood. 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.
|Birth name||Thomas J. Tedesco|
|Born||July 3, 1930|
Niagara Falls, New York, U.S.
|Died||November 10, 1997 (aged 67)|
|Genres||Jazz fusion, rock, pop, soundtrack|
|Occupation(s)||Musician, composer, teacher|
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 talk-show spoof Fernwood 2 Night.
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. 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. 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.
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.
Tedesco died of lung cancer in 1997, at the age of 67, in Northridge, California. His son, Denny Tedesco, 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.
- The Electric Twelve-String Guitar (Imperial Records, 1964)
- The Guitars of Tommy Tedesco (Imperial Records, 1965)
- Calypso Soul (Imperial Records, 1966)
- When Do We Start (Discovery, 1978)
- Autumn (Trend, 1978)
- My Desiree (Discovery, 1981)
- Carnival Time (Trend/Discovery, 1983)
- Hollywood Gypsy (Discovery, 1986)
- Tommy Tedesco Performs Roumanis' Jazz Rhapsody for Guitar & Orchestra (Capri 1992)
With Chet Baker
With Don Ellis
With Quincy Jones
- The Hot Rock OST (Prophesy, 1972)
With Jack Nitzsche
- Heart Beat (Soundtrack) (Capitol, 1980)
With Lalo Schifrin
- The Cincinnati Kid (soundtrack) (MGM, 1965)
- Music from Mission: Impossible (Dot, 1967)
- More Mission: Impossible (Paramount, 1968)
- Mannix (Paramount, 1968)
- The Fox (soundtrack) (MGM, 1968)
- Che! (soundtrack) (Tetragrammaton, 1969)
- Kelly's Heroes (soundtrack) (MGM, 1970)
- Enter the Dragon (soundtrack) (Warner Bros., 1973)
- Gloria (Columbia, 1980)
With Hugh Masekela
- Huey, Steve. "Biography of Tommy Tedesco". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved April 4, 2014.
- "Tommy Tedesco; Preeminent Studio Guitarist". Los Angeles Times. November 12, 1997.
- "Tommy Tedesco Profile". Space Age Pop Music. Retrieved April 4, 2014.
- "Tommy Tedesco, 67, A Studio Guitarist". The New York Times. November 12, 1997.
- "Tommy Tedesco | Album Discography | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved October 4, 2016.
- "Gloria: Colourful, complex action/drama score from Conti: A review by James Southall". Movie-Wave. 2006. Retrieved December 1, 2015.