Larry Knechtel PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 06 July 2010 15:55

Lawrence William "Larry" Knechtel

Born: August 4, 1940, Bell, CA.

Died: August 20, 2009, Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital in Yakima, Wash.

Age: 69

Cause of death: Heart attack

Notable because: Played piano on 'Bridge over troubled water' and the guitar solo on Breads 'The Guitarman.' And toured with the Dixie Chicks.

Larry Knechtel was an American keyboard player and bassist, best known for his work as a session musician with such artists as Simon & Garfunkel, Duane Eddy, The Beach Boys, The Mamas & the Papas, The Doors, and Elvis Presley, and as a member of the 1970s band, Bread.

Born in Bell, California, Knechtel's musical education began with piano lessons. In 1957, he joined the Los Angeles based rock and roll band Kip Tyler and the Flips. His career took a giant leap forward in August 1959, when he joined legendary Rock and Roll instrumentalist Duane Eddy as a member of his band, The Rebels. After four years on the road as a Rebel, and continuing to work with Eddy in the recording studio, Knechtel became part of the Hollywood session musician scene, working with Phil Spector as a pianist to help create the famous Wall of Sound effect. Knechtel became a prominent member of The Wrecking Crew, a loose collection of session musicians who performed on many songs of the period.

His most famous piano work is his 1970 Grammy Award winning contribution to "Bridge over Troubled Water" by Simon and Garfunkel.

Like many session musicians, Knechtel was proficient in other instruments, notably the harmonica and also the electric bass guitar, which can be heard on "Mr. Tambourine Man" by The Byrds, "Stoney End" by Barbra Streisand, and on tracks by The Doors (who did not have their own bass guitarist). In 1971, he joined the band Bread, where his contributions include the guitar solo on the hit single "The Guitar Man".

After touring with Duane Eddy for four years, Knechtel joined Jim Horn, Mike Deasy, Ron Tutt and David Hungate in becoming one of the top studio instrumentalists in Hollywood, working with the top stars including, Elvis, The Byrds, The Beach Boys, Sonny and Cher, The Mamas and The Papas, Simon and Garfunkel, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Bread, and Sammy Davis Jr., to name only a few.

Larry worked on many T.V. commercials including Coke, Pepsi and the famous "Heartbeat of America" Chevrolet commercial. His T.V. work included, Shindig, The 68 Comeback Special with Elvis Presley, and numerous appearances on Dick Clark's shows American Bandstand and Where The Action Is. Film credits in The Graduate, The Hardy Boys, Rocky Horror Picture Show, and Forrest Gump.

His sliding bass lines on The Byrds' hit "Mr. Tamborine Man" are starkly contrasted by the soaring majesty of his grand piano intro to Simon and Garfunkel's all time classic "Bridge Over Troubled Water", or his rocking B-3 organ on "Good Vibrations", and his multi-platinum wah-wah string bending with Bread.In recent years, Knechtel lived in semi-retirement in Yakima, Washington, until his death. He had, however, worked with record producer Rick Rubin, contributing with the keyboards to albums by Neil Diamond and the Dixie Chicks, and touring with the Dixie Chicks in support of their Grammy Award winning album Taking the Long Way. In 2007 he was inducted into The Musician's Hall of Fame with his fellow members of The Wrecking Crew.

Knechtel died on August 2, 2009, in Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital, Washington, at the age of 69 of an apparent heart attack.

Larry is survived by his wife Vicki, one son named Lonnie, and one daughter named Shelly. They all live in Washington.


In 1959, Knechtel joined Duane Eddy's band, the Rebels, and they toured the UK on a joint header with Bobby Darin the following year. Knechtel played piano on Eddy's hit recordings "Kommotion" (1960), "Pepe" (1960) and "(Dance With The) Guitar Man" (1962).

By 1962, Knechtel was tiring of the road and wanted to settle in Los Angeles. He became one of Phil Spector's regular musicians, working on several hits and the famed album A Christmas Gift for You (1963). He was also in the house band for the American TV series Shindig!, made by the British producer Jack Good.

The main session musicians (Knechtel, Horn, Hal Blaine, Carol Kaye, Glen Campbell and others) became known as the Wrecking Crew. Knechtel himself, who could also play organ, guitar, bass and harmonica, worked on albums by the Fifth Dimension and the Mamas and the Papas, and was recruited by John Phillips from the Mamas and the Papas to accompany several acts at the Monterey International Pop Festival in 1967. Knechtel played bass on the Byrds' "Mr Tambourine Man" (1965) and several more of their records. He was part of the anonymous band which backed the Monkees on their first album and incensed them as they wanted to play their own instruments.

In 1965, Brian Wilson ceased touring with the Beach Boys and he stayed in California to work on new material. Larry Knechtel was a key musician for the arduous sessions that became Pet Sounds. He played organ on their hit singles "God Only Knows" and "Good Vibrations".

Much of Knechtel's work went uncredited. When the producer Paul Rothchild thought that the Doors did not have a good enough bass player, he recruited Knechtel for their first album, The Doors (1967). Knechtel played bass on Elvis Presley's so-called Comeback Special (1968) and he worked on other Presley sessions. He played on the Everly Brothers' tribute to their upbringing, Roots (1968).

In 1971, Knechtel joined the soft rock band Bread. He played the all-important guitar solo on "The Guitar Man" (1972). Bread broke up acrimoniously in 1977. Knechtel had also worked on selected sessions during that period, including several albums by Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel; his playing on Garfunkel's "I Believe (When I Fall in Love it Will Be Forever)" attempted to capture the magic of "Bridge Over Troubled Water".

With the advent of self-contained groups in the New Wave explosion of the late 1970s, there was less session work. Knechtel moved to Nashville and as well as working on country records, he made the solo albums Urban Gypsy (1990) and Mountain Moods (1991). He worked with Elvis Costello on Mighty Like a Rose (1991) and Kojak Variety (1995), playing a plucked piano on "Remove This Doubt".

In 1995 he bought a ranch in Washington intending to retire, but joined Bread for a reunion tour. He was involved in contemporary albums like Neil Diamond's 12 Songs (2005) and the Dixie Chicks' Taking the Long Way (2006). In 2007, he and other members of the Wrecking Crew were inducted into the Musicians' Hall of Fame.



Urban Gypsy

Manufacturer: Capitol
Offers - Buy New From: $2.78 Used From: $1.75
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Mountain Moods

Manufacturer: Capitol
Offers - Buy New From: $30.00 Used From: $22.95
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Editorial Review: Mountain Moods


Tanyet (180 Gram Vinyl)

Manufacturer: VAULT
Offers - Buy New From: $18.00
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Editorial Review: THE CEYLEIB PEOPLE TANYET Ry Cooder's 60's experimental Hippy project Psych-raga bluesy rock with touches of studio as instrument tape work Originally Released on Vault in 1968 MUSICIANS: Lybuk Hyd - guitar, sitar Michael Sean Deasy - drums, vocals Joseph Osborn - bass, engineer Larry Knechtel - bass, keyboards Jim Gordon - drums Ben Benay - sitar Mike Melvion - keyboards Jim Horn - woodwinds Ry Cooder - guitar TRACKLIST: Aton I - (10:00) Leyshem - (1:00) Zendan - (3:15) Cyyladd Beyta - (3:30) Becal - (1:10) Ddom - (1:05) Toadda BB - (1:35) Aton II - (11:15) Dyl - (1:15) Ralin - (1:45) Tygstl - (0:59) Pendyl - (1:25) Jacayl - (2:15) Menyatt Dyl Com - (4:10) VAULT 117


Pisano & Ruff : Under the Blanket (VINYL LP RECORD)

Manufacturer: A&M
Used From: $19.99
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Editorial Review: UNDER THE BLANKET was released in 1970 as A&M SP 4276, and is out of print. The album is a combination of original compositions and cover tunes, mostly performed quietly and at a laid-back pace, with the exception of "Slim" with its scat vocals and "Stop." These tunes, along with "Chris," are catchy and jazz oriented. Mr. Alpert himself produced, arranged and contributed some uncredited vocals. Brass Veterans include Nick Ceroli on drums and Julius Wechter on vibes. Chuck Berghofer, best known for working with Pianist Pete Jolly, is on bass. Other credits include Larry Knechtel (electric piano/bass), Chuck Domanico (Bass), Jose Soares (percussion, Bill Earl (chippawa) and Paul Humphreys (drums). UNDER THE BLANKET's ten tracks & times are: Under the Blanket (2:32)/ Amanacer (2:55)/ I'll Never Fall in Love Again (4:03)/ Chris (2:02)/ Slim (3:58)/ The Drifter (3:50)/ Everybody's Talkin' (3:07)/ El Condor Pasa (2:31)/ Soon (2:04)/ Stop (2:54).


The Carmel Strings Featuring Larry Knechtel: Boss Baroque LP VG++/NM Canada

Manufacturer: World Pacific
Used From: $5.99
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Editorial Review: Tracklist:
  • A1 I Hear A Symphony
  • A2 Rhapsody In Blue
  • A3 Romantique
  • A4 The Endless Sea
  • A5 Yesterday
  • B1 A Lover's Concerto
  • B2 When We Were Young
  • B3 Prelude To An Evening
  • B4 Concerto For Young Lovers
  • B5 As Tears Go By

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