Who played in Phil Spector’s orchestra

Who played in Phil Spector’s orchestra


norman lebrecht

January 18, 2021

Although Spector often talked about the ‘Wagnerian’ texture of his accompaniments, there seem to have been very few live musicians involved – perhaps because Spector himself was so difficult to deal with.

The process involved drum kits, three acoustic pianos and plenty of guitars with an occasional harpsichord, along with prerecorded tapes which he manipulated in much the same was as composers did in the classical avant-garde.

A group of LA session musicians known as the Wrecking Crew provided whatever live music he required.

Spector, who was in jail for murder, has died of Covid, aged 81.


Of you know any instrumental musicians who worked with him, please let us know.


  • Boris says:

    Seeing as a lot of it was recorded at Gold Star Studios in LA, it was most likely the limitless amount of exceptional session musicians who were there.

  • M McAlpine says:

    No it wasn’t anything to do with his personality but his choices in creating his ‘wall of sound’ with echo chamber effects, etc.. Quite revolutionary at the time. he was the arch manipulator of everything and everybody.

  • Don’t forget to hear All things must pass the masterpice post Beatles of George Harrison for me without doubts the best album solo of one Beatles member

  • Hilary says:

    a leitmotif of ‘Slipped Disc’ is weighing up personal failings against undoubted talent and it usually prompts many contributions. Inevitably, it reaches a pinnacle when discussing Phil Spector.

  • Anthony Sayer says:

    The man was brilliant.

  • buxtehude says:

    Another martyr to his God-given Second Amendment rights. And to the First — if free & full use of these tools isn’t Speech, what is?!

    Just one reason things are so exiting over here, Brits. At least you’ve got Brexit.

    • Greg Bottini says:

      This comment makes absolutely no sense.

      • buxtehude says:

        It might if you lived over here — but whether you do or don’t, my exegesis:

        Not only are the bullets flying thicker by the week, truly a menace to public health, but a legal/philosophical defense of bullets & guns is popped up every time this disaster is cited. Even — or especially — when you see all this philosophy underpinning mobs legally carrying machine-guns.

        Spector was the embodiment of murder waiting to happen.

        Over there: the escalating disaster of Brexit, and the start of the search by those responsible to blame it on others. Doubly depressing: calls to “make it work.” Brexit is nothing more than the slowest and most painful route from EU membership back to EU membership. It is just beginning! Even the thickest of brexit-loving classicals must be starting to snap to this.

        The delight these last seem to take in the harm they imagine having caused the EU is just the green icing on a poisoned cake.

        Sorry that my attempt at shorthand & irony proved merely confusing.

  • Patricia says:

    Who cares? The man was a murderer.

  • Sir David Geffen-Hall says:

    I know. It’s only Rock and Roll but I like it.

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    It’s called rock music; heavily dependent on electronics and loud drums. They don’t give a hoot whether they’re giving jobs to players of acoustic instruments or not. Them be the facts, mam, just the facts.

  • Ronnie De Vries says:

    On Phil Spector’s album “A Christmas Gift For You”, the personnel at the recordings, made at the Gold Star Recording Studio in Hollywood
    between September 8th and October 12th 1963,
    are listed as follows: Horns: “Teenage” Steve Douglas, Jay Migliori, Roy Caton and Lou Blackburn.
    Guitars: Tom “Arbuckle” Tedesco, Bill Pitman, Irv Rubins, Nino Tempo and Barney Kessel.
    Pianos: Leon Russell, Don Randl and Al Delory,
    Bass: Ray Pohlman and Jimmy Bond.
    Drums: Hal Blaine.
    Percussion: Frank Kapp, Sonny Bono and Jack Nitzsche.
    Strings: Johnny Vidor Strings.
    The Wrecking Crew musicians can be found on Wikipedia, and include the great Carol Kaye on bass guitar.

  • A partial list of the Wrecking Crew musicians playing on Spector’s “wall of sound” records: guitarists Tommy Tedesco, Howard Roberts, Glen Campbell, Sonny Bono, Al Casey, Ray Pohlman and Bill Pitman; keyboard players Leon Russell, Don Randi, Larry Knechtel and Al De Lory; saxophonists Steve Douglas and Jim Horn; bassists Carol Kaye and Jimmy Bond; drummers Hal Blaine and Earl Palmer. Jack Nitzsche was frequently credited as arranger of the songs. The Wrecking Crew backed recordings by a variety of performers in the 1960s and ’70s, ranging from Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole to the Beach Boys and Simon & Garfunkel.

    • Greg Bottini says:

      True enough, Clarke, but Sinatra always insisted on drummer Irv Cottler on his sessions and on as many live gigs Irv could make.
      Irv could groove those Billy May and Nelson Riddle charts like no other.

  • Duncan says:

    The Gold Star studio was quite small and when all the musicians and their instruments were crowded in the resulting sound literally bounced off the walls, feeding back into the microphones and creating the ‘wall of sound’.