Don’s Blog: Who Is Hal Blaine

I guarantee you’ve heard his drumming. He is a living legend. Hearing him talk about how he influenced some of the greatest hits of all time is a lesson you will never forget. After Hal joined us a few years ago to be featured on The Chad Smith Show with Gregg Bissonette, Charlie Watts visited to also be a special guest on The Chad Smith Show. Charlie said if Hal were to ever come out again, he would love to be part of the Roundtable, as would Jim Keltner, so here it is. I edited it into five parts.

Part One: Jim discusses his influences including, Shelly Mann and Hal Blaine. He said he copied everything about Hal, even the color of his drums. Also, Jim discusses Ringo and Charlie as major influences and describes them as drummers who played musically. Hal discussed his influences and his motivation, and answers the question, “What is a song?” – an answer that defines his career. Hal tells the Herb Alpert story about “A Taste of Honey,” which was Hal’s first of 8 Grammy records of the year. It’s a great story of how it was played. Then Charlie discusses his influences.

Part Two: Did you know Hal played a short while with Count Basie? He also discusses what he made as a sideman on all of those hit records he played on during the sixties. As part of “The Wrecking Crew” he talks about getting started with Glen Campbell and Leon Russell. And Jim discusses a lesson he wishes every drummer should have.

Part Three: Charlie talks about what is most important to him in the drummer’s role. Hal emphasizes how important experience is. Jim remembers the Simon and Garfunkel tour and what he learned from that. Hal talks about the unknown mystery ingredient and that drugs are a dead-end. Charlie answers the infamous backbeat hi hat story.

Part Four: Jim discusses his love of all styles of drumming. Hal emphasizes the history of learning dance genres as basic training. They talk about it being a producer’s world, and the pros and cons. They all discuss studio experiences and give advice to young drummers.

Part Five: Hal talks about his early years – what intrigued him and how to handle an audition. Charlie gives advice about starting to play in a band.

It was a wild day that went well into the evening. Capturing these moments for you is a big part of what Drum Channel is all about, along with documenting the teaching techniques of the best instructors of all time. Look out next week for a new Chad Smith show called, “My Story,” where I visit with Chad, his mom and brother and get the real “dirt” on what he was like before he became the Chad we know today.

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