Bill Pitman, a well-known session guitarist and member of the Wrecking Crew, died recently at the age of 102. Pitman died on August 11 at his home in La Quinta, California, according to The New York Times. Janet Pitman, his wife, told the magazine that he died in hospice care after injuring his spine in a fall. Pitman was born on February 12, 1920, and grew up in a musical family. His father worked as an NBC programming staff bassist. Bill Pitman began playing music at the age of five, and throughout high school, he traveled from New Jersey to Manhattan as a fan of the local jazz scene.
He also served in World War II before relocating to Los Angeles. Bill Pitman began performing in jazz clubs in Los Angeles in the 1950s when he was 31 years old. He became well-known after landing a regular role with Peggy Lee’s backup band. Pitman then worked for three years as a frequent performer on The Rusty Draper Program, a radio show. Pitman’s well-known recordings include Be My Baby and Good Vibrations by the Ronettes, Mr. Tambourine Man by Bob Dylan, and The Way We Were by Barbra Streisand. The ukulele opening was also heard on BJ Thomas’ Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head. Netizens went to Twitter after learning of his death to offer their respects to the great musician:
Studio Guitarist Bill Pitman Dead at 102.
His hit sessions include: Ronettes “Be My Baby,” Beach Boys “Good Vibrations,” Sinatra “Strangers in the Night,” Presley “Blue Hawaii,” Streisand “The Way We Were,” & ukulele on “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head”https://t.co/qCZ3oMKYyQ
— Paul Myers (@pulmyears) August 12, 2022
The guitarist Bill Pitman and the bassist Carol Kaye in a scene from the documentary “The Wrecking Crew” (2008). Though virtually anonymous outside the music world, Mr. Pitman was heard on countless hit records and movie soundtracks pic.twitter.com/RTobwEPc4t
— Clem Caruthers (@ClemJamesaid) August 12, 2022
Bill Pitman began working as a studio musician in 1957.
Pitman began working as a studio musician in 1957. Phil Spector included Pitman into his band of studio musicians. The session musicians, who were all from Los Angeles, had a shifting roster. It was renamed The Wrecking Crew after Spector’s 1958 song To Know Him Is To Love Him. Pitman was quickly in demand for Capitol Records and other Los Angeles-based acts after releasing the song. Glen Campbell, Carol Kaye, and Leon Russell were among his session colleagues at the time. Pitman worked with a variety of musicians, including Frank Sinatra, The Beach Boys, and Bob Dylan.
He also worked on other films, including Elvis Presley’s 1961 picture Blue Hawaii, as well as M*A*S*H (1970), Fast Times At Ridgemont High (1982), Dirty Dancing (1987), and Goodfellas (1988). (1990). Pitman was featured in the 2008 documentary The Wrecking Crew, where he discussed his work with the informal and diverse collection of musicians. Denny Tedesco, son of fellow Wrecking Crew guitarist Tommy Tedesco, directed the documentary.
Tedesco paid respect to Pitman on Facebook, writing:
“He was a buddy of my father’s who played guitar and golf with him,” he wrote. “I didn’t realize the influence he had on me till I was older.” From ‘Mr. Tamborine Man’ through ‘Good Vibrations,’ Bill could be heard… He was a wonderful guy.”
He has contributed to the soundtracks of other films, including Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Goodfellas. Throughout the 1970s, the artist also traveled with Burt Bacharach and Vicki Carr. Bill Pitman was also a member of the main band at the MGM Grand Hotel. After retiring in 1989, the artist continued to perform music privately as a pastime.