October 25, 2008

guitars, guitars, guitars

guitars, guitars, guitars ~ al casey & the K-C-ettes

he's a rebel ~ the crystals

Alvin (Al) Casey

(26 October 1936 in Long Beach, California – 17 September 2006 in Phoenix, Arizona) was an American guitarist.

He was mainly noted for his work as a session musician, but also released records and scored three Billboard Hot 100 hits in the United States.

Casey began a longstanding association with Lee Hazlewood while still a teenager living in Phoenix, Arizona. His guitar is prominent on Sanford Clark's hit 1956 version of Hazlewood's song "The Fool", featuring a lick borrowed from the song "Smokestack Lightning", and on many other recordings by Clark.

He was also part of the backup for Duane Eddy's recordings, playing bass, piano, and rhythm guitar. Casey wrote one of Eddy's earliest hits, "Ramrod" (1958), as well as co-writing another Eddy hit, "Forty Miles of Bad Road" (1959).

Casey began working with his own ensemble, The Al Casey Combo, in the early 1960s. With this group he scored three instrumental hits: "Cookin" (U.S. #92, 1962), "Jivin' Around" (U.S. #71, 1962), and "Surfin' Hootenanny" (U.S. #48, 1963), recorded with Hazlewood. The "Surfin Hootenanny" album featured Al mimicking the styles of Dick Dale, The Ventures, and Duane Eddy.

Drummer Hal Blaine and organist Leon Russell played on many of these recordings; the backup vocal group, named as The K-C-Ettes, were in fact The Blossoms, later the Crystals, featuring Darlene Love. The small independent label he recorded for, Stacy Records, folded in 1964. Later he was a featured guitarist on the "Exotic Guitars" series of albums.

As a member of The Wrecking Crew, he worked as a session musician for artists such as The Beach Boys, Phil Spector, Elvis Presley, Glen Campbell, The Association, The Monkees, Johnny Cash, Eddy Arnold, Simon & Garfunkel, The Fifth Dimension, Harry Nilsson, The Partridge Family, Frank Sinatra, and Nancy Sinatra on "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'".

He also owned a music store in Hollywood in the late 1960s, and played as a member of the band on "The Dean Martin Show". He continued recording into the 1990s, including an LP release, Sidewinder, for Bear Family Records, in that decade.

Casey, along with many of his fellow studio musicians, was featured in the 95-minute 2008 film The Wrecking Crew by, Denny Tedesco. The film has screened at several festivals, but has not yet been commercially released.

Casey died on 17 September 2006 in Phoenix, Arizona.


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