Friday, August 21, 2009

Larry Knechtel, 1940-2009. R.I.P.

Most people have never heard of Larry Knechtel.

But you've almost certainly heard his music.

If you're familiar with Simon & Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water" you will know the song's fabulous piano part especially the intro which served as the foundation as one of the greatest rock n' roll songs ever recorded. It was Knechtel who played the piano on that recording back in 1970. He died yesterday at the age of 69. The cause of death has not been released.

Primarily a studio musician, Knechtel worked with acts such as Elvis Presley, Duane Eddy, The Beach Boys, The Doors, The Fifth Dimension, Elvis Costello, Johnny Rivers, Harry Nilsson, Randy Newman, Kenny Rankin and Hank Williams, Jr. In more recent years, Knetchel played keyboards with the Dixie Chicks (O.K., they can't all be good.)

Knechtel was also a member of the '70s soft rock group Bread. His best known contribution was the guitar solo in - what else? - "Guitar Man." Here's a clip of Bread playing this song live back in the early 70s. Knechtel is wearing the striped shirt.

When listening to our favorite songs it is easy to get lost in the music and overlook those who made the beauty possible. Our lives would have no soundtrack without the likes of Larry Knechtel.

3 comments:

Derek said...

Well written tribute - thank you for that.

I believe I am the last drummer to have played with Larry; we shared the stage exactly two weeks ago today. I have played with Larry probably 50 times over the course of a few years, but for some reason, during the last gig, I just watched him in awe during much of it. I mean, here is this guy - larger than life on paper, but as humble as the day is long - and he is sitting 10 feet away, playing his heart out and sharing his genius with us. I kind of had to do a double-take and think that through.

I got to spend hours upon hours just hanging with Larry between sets at gigs. Since I'm considerably younger than him (28 years old), he always had so much great advice for me, and was full of stories from the road and studio. He was really a mentor to me, whether he knew it or not.

He will be missed. And like you put it: at some point, whether they know it or not, Larry has contributed to the soundtrack of people's lives. What an amazing guy.

Aaron Goldstein said...

Derek,

Thank you for sharing your thoughts about Larry Knechtel. I am sorry for the loss of your friend and colleague.

Of course, I never met Larry Knechtel. I knew him only through his music. His contributions to rock n' roll are immeasurable. You could not have asked for a better mentor.

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