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You worked along with many musicians...(Davey J, Burton, Beach Boys, Nigel etc...)

I suspect some did their tracks without you there...did you get a say on who played, who's take ended up on the mix, etc?  Did you also have the arrangement for their part already scored out?  How did the process work?

Also, with which session musician did it "click" best?


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I personally picked every one of them, and made up their parts in the studio. Actually, come to think of it, I saw Burton and just asked him if he'd like to play and sing. He said "sure." I had the vocal part for him, but the piano was purely his.

One of the things about being "the producer," is that you get to pick who would be right for each song. All the musicians I've worked with were handpicked, because I thought they would bring something to whatever song they were asked to play on.

Most of the time, they did. Sometimes, they did not. I had to be ready to make up a guitar solo, or a drum part, if the guy I hired wasn't creative that day. 

I can tell you that my favorite session drummer of all time was Jeff Porcaro. He was, without a doubt, the most unbelievable drummer I have ever worked with ( and I have worked with a LOT of incredible drummers). 

Jeff just heard exactly what was in my head, and played it, without me ever having to say a word. The first time we worked together was on "Boats Against The Current."

His drums were set up, and he walked in (I wanted him on that song since I heard his drumming on "Silk Degrees.") I asked him if he wanted to hear the song first, and he said "no."

On the first take, I kind of "conducted" him, to show him where I wanted the fills, and what I had in mind. He had never heard the song before, but I realized I didn't need to say anything more to him.

And, by the way, he was playing to piano and strings, with no click track. That's just about impossible for mere mortals.

He learned the song on take one.

He played very well on take two.

I could have used take three, but i asked him if he'd like to do another one, and he said "yes."

Take four is the one on the record. When I listen to it, now, it's hard for me to imagine that we didn't play together at the same time, that's how perfect his "time" was.

We did "She Remembered" the same way, and, as Jeff was walking out of the studio, having played to only my piano, with no click track, he said, "I really enjoy working this way, with you. It's so easy for me to just play to your piano part. We should always work like this."

I can only tell you that I have worked with sensational drummers, all of my life, from Mike McBride and Jim Bonfanti to Carmine Appice, Nigel Olsen and all the other terrific drummers I've known. Jeff did things that no one else I have ever known could ever do. He passed away, suddenly, very young, years ago, and I can tell you, I was devastated when I heard the news. He was, without a doubt, the most gifted drummer, and perhaps, the most gifted musician I have ever known.

He is the drummer on "Boats Against The Current", "She Did It", "Love Is all that Matters", and "She Remembered". On every one of those, he was overdubbed, playing to nothing but my piano. I have never known anyone else, ever, who could have done that, and, when you listened to the basic track, you would never have dreamed that he and I were not playing in the same studio, at the same time, and, beyond that, it never took more than four takes!!!! He was done in a half hour!

My question was always "What can I do with you for the next two and a half hours (one, three- hour session).


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Right behind Jeff, is Steve Lukather, who is pretty much Jimi Hendrix, as far as I'm concerned. And Bruce Gaitsch, who I worked with on the "Winter Dreams" album, is also absolutely incredible. He inspired me to think of guitar parts I never would have thought of, if he hadn't been sitting next to me in the studio, and, whatever I could dream and hum, Bruce could play, usually on the first take.

One of the greatest things about what I do, is getting to play with musicians like Jeff Porcaro and Steve Lukather and Davey Johnstone and the late Hugh McCracken (who played the solo on "All By Myself ) and David Wintour, who played the most sensational, beautiful perfect, melodic bass parts, beyond anything I could have ever imagined, on the entire "Boats" album. If you want to hear what truly inspired bass playing sounds like, listen to "Nowhere To Hide."

Only David, Nigel and I were playing, but at the end of that song, out of nowhere, David decided to play "sixths" on the bass, and the timing of the last three notes he played was so spot on with my piano that it still gives me chills every time I listen to it.

He was absolutely perfect, on every song on that album. McCartney couldn't have played any better.

That's why I love my job.


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Hal Blaine was incredible! Dino Danelli, too. But NOBODY was, or ever may be again, in a class with Jeff Porcaro. And I say that with all due respect to ALL the amazing drummers I've ever worked with, and I am VERY drum oriented.

Jeff was just in a class by himself. What he did was superhuman. I never thought it even possible. 


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