Saturday Single No. 321

I’ve been catching up on some reading lately, clearing from the shelf a book the Texas Gal gave me for my birthday in September: The Wrecking Crew by Kent Hartman.

The book tells the tale of the large group of Southern California session musicians renowned for their work on records that ranged from Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound productions for the Ronettes, Darlene Love and many more to the middle-of-the-road records made in the mid-1960s by performers that included Frank Sinatra (“Strangers in the Night”) and Dean Martin (“Houston”). Along the way, the list of performers and groups also included Sonny & Cher, the Grass Roots, Glen Campbell (himself a member of the Wrecking Crew as a guitarist), the Beach Boys, the Mamas & the Papas, the Fifth Dimension and many more.

(I’m about two-thirds of the way through the book, and those are among the most memorable acts Hartman has mentioned so far; I imagine others will yet pop up.)

Hartman frequently introduces members of the Wrecking Crew by taking the reader back to their childhoods, whether that be Glen Campbell’s life of rural poverty in Arkansas, the wandering life of Carol Smith (future bass player Carol Kaye) as the daughter of professional musicians reluctant to settle down, or the close escape of fifteen-year-old Harold Belsky (better known as drummer Hal Blaine), who was at a July 1944 performance of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus in Hartford, Connecticut, when a fire broke out in the big top, killing nearly 170 people.

The names pile up in Hartman’s account of one of the greatest collections of studio talent ever assembled: Sonny Bono, Larry Knechtel, Tommy Tedesco, Russell Bridges (Leon Russell), Steve Douglas, Earl Palmer, Jim Gordon, Joe Osborn, Billy Strange . . . and among many others, Jimmy Bond.

I know all those names now, of course, and have known them for many years, but the one I knew first was that of bass player Jimmy Bond. His name popped up in 1965 on the back of a record I bought during my James Bond mania. As I’ve noted other times, before reading any of Ian Fleming’s books or seeing any of the first three Bond films, I bought John Barry’s soundtrack for Goldfinger and a couple of other records of music related to the films. One of those was Confidential: Sounds for a Secret Agent, credited to David Lloyd & His London Orchestra.

Lloyd’s concept was interesting. As well as scoring and recording his own versions of themes from the already released James Bond films (Dr. No, From Russia With Love and Goldfinger), he asked three composers to compose themes for eight of the Ian Fleming titles that had not yet been produced as films.* One of those composers, say the notes on the back cover of Confidential: Sounds for a Secret Agent, was “a very real James Bond, better known to his friends and professional associates as Jimmy Bond, a highly regarded Los Angeles bass player.”

I stored the information away, as I did the names of the two other composers of the new material: Warren Baker and Mae Helms. Those two names have never popped up anywhere else, as far as I remember. (I was a little excited as I scanned the contents of the mp3 collection this morning when I saw the name of the composer of the theme for the TV show 77 Sunset Strip, a detective series that ran from 1958 to 1964, but my excitment waned when I saw that the composer was actually Warren Barker.)

The name of Jimmy Bond as a studio player did pop up from time to time, though, and that happened increasingly over the years as my pop and rock status shifted from non-listener to ardent listener to collector and finally to amateur historian and writer-at-absurd-length. I don’t know that I’d ever connected Jimmy Bond with the Wrecking Crew until this week, but the first time I saw his name in Hartman’s book, I headed into the study to check out the notes on the back of Confidential: Sounds for a Secret Agent. And I found what I thought I might find.

So here’s a link between a twelve-year-old kid who loved his James Bond music but didn’t know a lot about where it came from and a much older man who now knows a lot more about where the music comes from . . . and loves it no less. Here’s David Lloyd & His London Orchestra performing Jimmy Bond’s “The Man With The Golden Gun,” and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

*Lloyd skipped two titles, perhaps because the films and resulting music were either close to release or in production: Thunderball, which was released as a film in 1965 and You Only Live Twice, which was released in 1967.

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3 Responses to “Saturday Single No. 321”

  1. Marie says:

    Very interesting post, G.! I’ll really have to try to track down a copy of that book. Just out of curiosity, does the author provide footnotes, end notes and/or a bibliography? I’ve become hard-nosed about such things and tend to avoid many of the more ‘popular’ histories/biographies that don’t document their sources. I recently picked up Memphis Boys: the Story of American Studios by Roben Jones, and there was practically steam coming out of my ears I was so annoyed that his so-called notes weren’t even numbered and just listed dates of interviews with each subject – not especially helpful, if you know what I mean (even though it was published by the University Press of Mississippi.)

  2. porky says:

    I have a fantastic Gerry Mulligan LP on Limelight, “If You Can’t Beat ’em Join ‘Em” wherein the bari sax man tackles the hits of today (being ’65/’66) and one of the sidemen is Jimmy Bond. I’d never heard of him up to that point.

  3. […] It’s a song that’s been covered many times, of course, and I’m going to write about some of those covers in the next week or so. But I thought that, as I’m only here for a short time today, we’d start our exploration of the song with saxophonist Gerry Mulligan’s take. The track was on his 1965 album Feelin’ Good. (Among the musicians on the album were my favorite drummer, Hal Blaine, and bassist Jimmy Bond.) […]

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