“Staged and Phony”: A Wrecking Crew Alum Shares Her Real Thoughts About New Beach Boys Documentary

The group of studio musicians nicknamed the Wrecking Crew are largely responsible for the timeless musical arrangements on the Beach Boys’ most iconic records, but that doesn’t mean every Wrecking Crew alum approves of a 2024 Disney+ documentary about the Californian group. Legendary bassist Carol Kaye, for example, is decidedly not a fan. 

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Kaye played bass on many of the Beach Boys’ most memorable albums, including ‘Pet Sounds,’ ‘Beach Boys Today,’ ‘Summer Days (and Summer Nights!!),’ and ‘Smile.’ And while one might assume the musician would be happy to have directors Frank Marshall and Thom Zimmy highlighting a musical era of which she was part, that assumption would be wrong.

The bassist’s disdain for the documentary goes far past negative indifference. In a since-deleted Facebook post, Kaye described just how much she disliked The Beach Boys.

The Wrecking Crew Alum Denounced The Beach Boys Documentary As Fake

Although the Wrecking Crew is all over the Beach Boys’ records musically speaking, the group of musicians (who, at the time, loosely called themselves the Clique—their “Wrecking Crew” moniker would come retrospectively in the 1990s) didn’t tour or perform with the band after cutting the records. Despite this, the editing in the Disney+ documentary seems to imply that the studio musicians and public-facing band had a closer working relationship than they did.

…or, at least, that’s what Carol Kaye would say if you asked her. In a since-deleted Facebook post, the bassist wrote, “Disney movie about Beach Boys tries to show Studio Musicians in the studio recording the Beach Boys tracks while they were singing. That was ALL Staged! And PHONEY … Brian Wilson recorded ALL the voices later on — MUCH LATER than when we recorded the Beach Boys tracks with Brian.” 

Kaye re-emphasized that the session instrumentalists and the bands they played for never crossed paths in the studio. “But it fools you and everyone doesn’t it? Disney film shows false scenes” (via Reddit).

This Isn’t The First Documentary Carol Kaye Has Had A Problem With

Decades after cutting some of the most iconic records of the 60s and 70s, Carol Kaye has no problem speaking her mind about the going-ons of the time (and how people describe them today). She maintains an active presence on social media, consistently sharing musical morsels of decades past in the studio on her Facebook page. Kaye will share anecdotes, photographs, and, perhaps most of all, her opinion on the retelling of the history she helped create.

Sixteen years before Disney+ released “The Beach Boys,” director Denny Tedesco made a documentary titled The Wrecking Crew, which detailed Kaye and her contemporaries’ time in the studio. Kaye appears throughout the documentary, but she later expressed her disapproval for the film. In a statement on her website, Kaye said she believed people should recognize the talent and influence of 1960s and 1970s studio musicians like herself.

“The Denny Tedesco-Hal Blaine ‘wrecking’ film-doc doesn’t tell the real story as he said it would. The bassist argued the movie makers “skewered” and “re-edited” the footage. “We were never known as the Hal Blaine-invented 1990 self-promo ‘wrecking crew’ term – like Leon Russell, Al Kooper others say, that’s pure baloney. The 50-60 of us (out of 400+ hard-working recording musicians) were sometimes called the CLIQUE, and most were successful jazz musicians with fine reputations before ever doing studio work.” Kaye’s commentary goes to show that everyone’s a critic—even the stars of the show.

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