When I was in my teens and just starting to teach guitar in local Toledo, OH music stores, I used to love to hear the older seasoned musicians tell stories of the legendary area musicians and performances they had seen, etc. I just got a copy of a great book called “Strings Of Memories” by Jim LaDiana to review and it’s very much like hearing these kinds of stories, but they are all about the phenomenal guitarists that made up the golden age of studio guitarists from the 40s to the 80s, as well as some jazz icons of this era. Lots of great guitarists and family members give their memories of everyone from early jazz greats like George Barnes, Barney Kessel, Eddie Lang, George Van Eps, the little know legend Jimmy Wyble and many more. The book then gets into the life of the studio guitarist and their individual sagas, told largely from reminisces of Bob Bain, one of the busiest studio guitarists ever. This is more than a coffee table book for guitarists, it should be a college textbook on a lot of guitarists who are under-known as well as an era of recording history that has very little written about it from the perspective of the people that really worked in it.
Bob Bain started really working around the 40s, but his studio recording career output includes everyone from Sinatra, early TV like Ozzie and Harriet and Gunsmoke, to film scores for composers like Mancini or Goldsmith. His stories tell of the reality of the recording ban in the 40s to a lawsuit against the Musicians Union by a number of studio musicians that they actually won and much more.
There are pictures of his actual appointment books with the wages earned on Sinatra sessions to The Tonight Show to a gig at the Shriners Auditorium and anything else you could imagine. This kind of thing really puts things in historical perspective for musicians as to how things have changed, and it’s a great thing that the LaDiana got all this information out of Bain while there was still time. Bain explains the pay scale in the major studios, how instrument cartage was handled, scheduling work through musician contractors and answering services, and just about everything of how the day-to-day life of a busy studio guitarist would look as it happens. Nothing said is “dumbed down” here for the non-musician, but the definition of all the terminology is always clearly explained. It’s a very valuable thing for anyone doing any kind of recording work to see how things are done at the top of the profession, no matter the level that they will be working at themselves.
“Strings Of Memories” is a very valuable and entertaining look at a unique moment in the history of music: a time when the profession of musician went above the “semi-frowned upon” traditional troubadour performing live to the “upper middle class respectable home owner” type of reputation that the recording musician enjoys. Anyone that aspires to that life or just wants to know more about its’ golden era should pick up this great book. To buy the book: http://www.stringsofmemories.com/buy-the-book.html