An Introduction to The Wrecking Crew’s Carol Kaye: One of rock’s most prolific bassists
Today on the Leicht Lunch, we’re celebrating the work of legendary bassist Carol Kaye, who turns 86 on March 24th. She’s a musician who, even if you don’t know her name, you’ve heard her work.
A member of the Los Angeles group of session musicians known as The Wrecking Crew, Kaye worked closely with producers Phil Spector and Brian Wilson, and is believed to be on some 10,000 recordings dating back to 1957. In 2020, Rolling Stone magazine ranked her number 5 in a list of the 50 greatest bassists of all time.
She started playing guitar when she was 13; by 14 she was teaching and playing jazz guitar. She was recruited to play on Sam Cooke’s “Summertime” and Richie Valens’ “La Bamba,” and at a Capitol recording studio session, the bassist didn’t show up and so Carol jumped in.
“I dug being on the bottom of the band,” she said in an interview with Louder Sound. “It was my own little spot. I knew what to do and what to invent.”
Below, listen to just a few of the legendary songs Kaye played on, and learn more in this Vulture profile.