Well-known session guitarist Bill Pitman, a member of the group Wrecking Crew, has just passed away at the age of 102. According to The New York Times, Pitman died on August 11 at his home in La Quinta, California. According to his wife, Janet Pitman, he died in hospice care after injuring his spine in a fall.
Pitman was born on February 12, 1920 and grew up in a musical family. His father was an NBC bass player for programs. Bill Pitman first became interested in music when he was five years old, and during high school he traveled frequently from New Jersey to Manhattan to experience the city’s jazz culture.
He also served in the military during World War II and then moved to Los Angeles. In the 1950s, at the age of 31, Bill Pitman began performing in LA jazz clubs. He rose to fame after getting a regular gig in Peggy Lee’s backup band. After that, Pitman was a regular cast member on the radio show The Rusty Draper Show for three years.
Pitman’s well-known compositions include his work on the Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations,” the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby,” “Mr. Tambourine Man by Bob Dylan and The Way We Were by Barbra Streisand.
The ukulele entry of BJ Thomas’ Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head was also played by the artist.
Bill Pitman began working as a session artist in 1957
Spector’s 1958 song To Know Him Is To Love Him was the Wrecking Crew’s first hit. Pitman was quickly approached for Capitol Records and other Los Angeles-based artists after the song’s release.
His session partners at the time included Leon Russell, Carol Kaye and Glen Campbell. Pitman has worked with a number of well-known musicians, including Frank Sinatra, The Beach Boys and Bob Dylan.
He has also appeared in a number of films including Blue Hawaii, a 1961 Elvis Presley film, M*A*S*H, Fast Times At Ridgemont High, Dirty Dancing and Goodfellas (1990).
In 2008, Pitman had an appearance in the documentary The Wrecking Crew, where he spoke to the loosely organized band of musicians about his work.
It was directed by Denny Tedesco, the son of Tommy Tedesco, a fellow Wrecking Crew guitarist.
He has also provided music for Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Goodfellas, as well as several commercial jingles and movie soundtracks. In the 1970s, the artist also toured with artists such as Vicki Carr and Burt Bacharach. The lead band at the MGM Grand Hotel also included Bill Pitman.
The artist retired in 1989 but retained his love of private music.