November 10, 1997 – Tommy Tedesco (session guitarist) was born on July 3rd 1930 in Niagara Falls. It took him almost 30 years to make his way to the West Coast, but once there he became one of the most sought after studio musicians between the 1960s and the 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!).
Guitar magazine described him as the most recorded guitarist in history, having played on thousands of recordings, including the Beach Boys, Everly Brothers, The Association, Barbra Streisand, Elvis Presley, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Zappa, Sam Cooke, Cher, and Nancy and Frank Sinatra. He recorded with most of the top acts in the Los Angeles arena. TV themes include Bonanza, The Twilight Zone, Green Acres, M*A*S*H, Batman, and Elvis Presley’s ’68 Comeback Special.
Film soundtracks include 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. He was one of the very few sidemen credited for work on animated cartoons for the The Ant and the Aardvark cartoons.
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 died of lung cancer in 1997, at the age of 67, in Northridge, California.
Guitar Virtuoso Larry Carlton remembers an early career experience with Tommy:
There was a session in the early seventies, probably ’72, ’73 – a movie call I was on with Tommy Tedesco. He was the ‘other’ guitar player. I was the young, hot guy who was there to play the contemporary sounding stuff and Tommy was there obviously because of his expertise in reading and everything else. There was one cue that said ‘rock and roll solo’ and it was on my music stand, ’cause they planned on my playing it. To make a point to me as a young player, from Tommy who was the veteran – he said, ‘here, give me the part.’ And he took the part and he turned on his wa-wa, his fuzz -tone, he turned on virtually everything he had and put it on the treble pick up and when the take started he just started taking his hand and running it up and down the neck as fast as he could with rhythm. He played no real notes and no licks, and at the end of the take everyone from the booth said, ‘that’s great, take a break.’ Tommy was letting me know that I should not to take this business too seriously because they listen a lot with their eyes and not with their ears.