NOVEMBER 10, 1997 – Session guitarist TOMMY TEDESCO (b. July 3, 1930 in Niagara Falls, New York) died of lung cancer at age 67 in Northridge, California. Described by Guitar Player Magazine as the most recorded guitarist in the history of recording, he has made records with a long list of popular recording artists and played on many TV theme songs including “Bonanza”, “The Twilight Zone”, “M*A*S*H”, and “Batman”.Tedesco became one of the most-sought-after studio guitarists between the 1960s and 1980s.
Although Tedesco was primarily a guitar player, he also played the mandolin, ukulele, and the sitar as well as 28 other stringed instruments (though he played all of them in guitar tuning).Tedesco 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 for film soundtracks such as “The French Connection,” “The Godfather,” “Jaws,” “The Deer Hunter,” “Field of Dreams” 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 Hawkes and John Wayne film “Rio Lobo.” He was one of the very few sidemen credited for work on animated cartoons for the “The Ant and the Aardvark” cartoons (1968–1971).On his own, 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’s son Denny Tedesco directed the 2008 documentary film “The Wrecking Crew”, which features interviews with Tommy and many of his fellow session musicians.