Tommy Tedesco: The most recorded guitarist in history

By Miche Archetto:

Here is Tommy Tedesco jamming on a classical guitar. Guitar player magazine (where he used to have a popular column) described him as “The most recorded guitarist in history”. Also Gibson’s website described him as “The Most Famous Guitarist You’ve Never Heard Of”. It is the paradox of being a very popular session player.


On wikipedia you can find that:

Thomas J. Tedesco (July 3, 1930 – November 10, 1997) was an American master session musician and renowned jazz and bebop guitarist.

Tedesco’s credits include the iconic brand-burning accompaniment theme from television’s Bonanza, The Twilight Zone, Vic Mizzy’s iconic theme from Green Acres, M*A*S*H, Batman, and Elvis Presley’s ’68 Comeback Special. He was shown on-camera for a number of game and comedy shows, and played ex-con guitarist Tommy Marinucci, a member of Happy Kyne’s Mirth-Makers, in the talk-show spoof Fernwood 2 Night.

Born in Niagara Falls, New York, Tedesco made his way to the U.S. West Coast where he became one of the most-sought-after studio guitarists between the 1960s and 1980s. Although Tedesco was primarily a guitar player, he also played the mandolin, ukulele, and the sitar as well as 28 other stringed instruments (though he played all of them in guitar tuning).

Tedesco was described by Guitar Player magazine as the most recorded guitarist in history, having played on thousands of recordings, many of which were top-20 hits. He recorded with most of the top musicians working in the Los Angeles area including The Beach Boys, The Mamas & the Papas, The Everly Brothers, The Association, Barbra Streisand, Jan and Dean, The 5th Dimension, Elvis Presley, Sam Cooke, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Zappa, Ricky Nelson, Cher, and Nancy and Frank Sinatra as well as on Richard Harris’s classic “MacArthur Park”. His playing can be found on Jack Nitzsche’s “The Lonely Surfer”, on Wayne Newton’s version of “Danke Schoen”, B. Bumble and the Stingers’s “Nut Rocker”, The Rip Chords’ “Hey Little Cobra”, The Ronettes’ “Be My Baby”, The Sandpipers’ “Guantanamera”, The T-Bones’ “No Matter What Shape’” and Nino Tempo & April Stevens’ version of “Deep Purple”. For Guitar Player, Tedesco wrote a regular column called “Studio Log” in which he would describe a day’s work recording a movie, TV show or album, the special challenges each job posed and how he solved them, what instruments he used, and how much money he made on the job.

Tedesco also performed for film soundtracks such as The French Connection, The Godfather, Jaws, The Deer Hunter, Field of Dreams, plus several Elvis Presley films. He was also the guitarist for the Original Roxy cast of The Rocky Horror Show. Additionally, he performed the opening guitar solo for the Howard Hawkes and John Wayne film Rio Lobo. He was one of the very few sidemen credited for work on animated cartoons for the The Ant and the Aardvark cartoons (1968–1971).

On his own, Tedesco recorded a number of jazz guitar albums, but his musical career ended in 1992 when he suffered a stroke that resulted in partial paralysis. The following year he published his autobiography, Confessions of a Guitar Player.

Tommy Tedesco died in Los Angeles, California, in 1997, aged 67, from lung cancer.