Wrecking Crew guitarist Bill Pitman Passed Away At 102
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The Wrecking Crew guitarist, Bill Pitman, who have recorded with big names like Frank Sinatra, the Beach Boys and the Byrds, and whose work appeared in countless films and TV shows over the years, died at the age of 102.
Pitman was born on Feb. 12, 1920, in Belleville, N.J.. He became interested in music at a very young age. His father was a bass player on staff at NBC. While still in high school, Pitman would visit jazz clubs in New York City, where he was exposed to artists like Charlie Parker.
Eventually, he relocated to California, where he studied at the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music and wound up joining Peggy Lee’s band. He then took a job playing for the radio program The Rusty Draper Show for three years.
One day, he sat in for guitarist Tony Rizzi, who was recording for Capitol Records. Soon, Pitman was one of the most sought-after guitarists in the industry.
In 1957, Pitman was asked by Bertha Spector, Phil Spector’s mother, if he would teach her son how to play jazz guitar. Later on, Phil made a hit in 1963. Even though he was personally more inclined toward jazz, Pitman ended up recording with nearly every big name that recorded pop songs in 1960s Los Angeles. The list includes the Beach Boys, Nancy Sinatra, and the Byrds.
Pitman could also be heard on the soundtracks of hundreds of films and TV shows. In 1973, Pitman stopped working as a session musician, but continued to perform on the road with Burt Bacharach, Anthony Newley, Vikki Carr and others.
He also worked on the musical staff at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Hotel. Although he officially retired in 1989, Pitman continued to play music around the house. In 2019, his wife told The New York Times that he “plays the guitar at home just about every day.”
According to Pitman’s wife, Janet, the musician died after spending four weeks at a rehabilitation center in Palm Springs, where he was being treated for a fractured spine due to a fall. He was at home under hospice care at the time of his death.