Well, it's been a rotten couple of days. First Teddy Kennedy, then Ellie Greenwich, and now one of the greatest rock and pop keyboard players of them all.
Seriously, this guy's credits are ridiculous. In essence, he worked on every important record made in LA beween the early 60s and early 70s, starting with Duane Eddy and then with Phil Spector, The Beach Boys, The Mamas and Papas, The Fifth Dimension , Johnny Rivers (that's him on "Rockin' Pneumonia") and others too numerous to mention before joining Bread as a full time member. And he was active right up until the end -- in the last couple of years he had sessioned for the Dixie Chicks and was playing Hammond Organ with them on tour.
Perhaps his best-known credit, of course, is his piano on Simon and Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Waters." But for my money, he deserves to be immortal for two records in particular that he contributed to in a major way.
Here he is playing one of the most famous bass guitar parts in music history (he was a multi-instrumentalist, obviously) on The Byrds' "Mr. Tambourine Man," thus participating in the birth of Folk Rock.
And here he is (back on piano) in 1973 as the only-non Jamaican in the band on Paul Simon's "Mother and Child Reunion," the first -- and for my money still the best -- example of white boy reggae ever. And damned if Knechtel's descending octave passage work at approximately 1:50 seconds in doesn't kick the track into a whole other dimension.
Both of these records still sound fresh as paint, I might add.
Meanwhile, as a friend of mine said the other day...
Dear Grim Reaper:
TAKE A FUCKING VACATION ALREADY.
[Byrds Geek Note: The version of "Tambourine Man" above is the first-time stereo remix by original Byrds manager Jim Dickson, from the 1989 album "Never Before," and it is out of print and in official disfavor, never to re-released. The stereo version to be heard on all the current and future Sony Byrds CDs pales by comparison, so download this one if you haven't already got it. Basically, the Dickson is a Gothic Cathedral; the Sony track is ...well, I'm too lazy to follow through on the metaphor, but I think the phrase "small beer" will suffice.]