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Jerry Fuller and the Amazing True Story of Ricky Nelson's "Travelin' Man"

Friday, November 22: 9 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
American singer, songwriter and record producer Jerry Fuller wrote "Travelin' Man"

In 1960s Los Angeles, California, an elite group of studio session musicians came together and played on hits for the Beach Boys, the ByrdsRicky Nelson, Elvis Presley, Simon and GarfunkelPhil Spector's "Wall of Sound," Frank Sinatra, Nancy Sinatra, Sonny and Cher, Jan & Dean, the Monkees, Gary Lewis and the Playboys, 5th Dimension, Tijuana Brass and Johnny Rivers among others. From "Be My Baby" to "California Girls;" "Strangers in the Night" and "Mrs. Robinson;" "You've Lost that Lovin' Feelin'" and "Up, Up and Away;""Viva Las Vegas" to "Mr. Tambourine Man," the group dubbed "The Wrecking Crew" played on some of rock and roll's most-beloved songs. “The musicians really are the unsung heroes of all these hit records,” noted Nancy Sinatra. And now the world will know their story – if all goes to plan.

Watch + Listen: American singer, songwriter and record producer Jerry Fuller tells the story of how he wrote "Travelin' Man" for Sam Cooke, recorded it with Glen Campbell, and how the demo went in the garbage before finding its way to Ricky Nelson. (From The Wrecking Crew: The Untold Story of Rock & Roll Heroes)

Among the musicians in the "Crew" was guitarist Tommy Tedesco. Decades later, in 1996, Tommy's son, Denny Tedesco, set about filming his father's story. Tommy had been diagnosed with terminal cancer that same year, and Denny knew he didn't have much time with him. Sadly, Tommy passed away in 1997 without ever seeing a frame of the film, but over the years, Denny has connected with many of his father's friends to tell the story, filming interviews with Brian Wilson, Leon Russell, Dick Clark, Cher, Nancy Sinatra, Herb Alpert, Glen Campbell, Roger McGuinn, Gary Lewis, Al Jardine, Peter Tork, Micky Dolenz and others. By 2006, Denny had gathered a decade's worth of interviews and two years later his film, The Wrecking Crew: The Untold Story of Rock & Roll Heroes, was ready for the film festival circuit. Debuting at SXSW in 2008, the film went on to be screened at more than 50 festivals, winning a dozen awards.

However, with more than 120 music cues, the price tag for licensing to get the film distributed was significant. "In 2010, I realized the only way to get this film released was through donations," writes Denny on The Wrecking Crew's official Kickstarter fund-raising page. "Over the last few years, we’ve raised nearly $300K in donations to pay off labels, publishers and some of the stock footage, but we still need to pay a fee directly to the musicians through the AFM (American Federation of Musicians). This is called a re-use fee and is one bill I can’t wait to pay. I’m happy to be able to pay the musicians for the memories they gave us. These musicians are the reason I have stayed with this project for over 17 years. I want to finally give credit where credit is due."

Help support The Wrecking Crew: The Untold Story of Rock & Roll Heroes!

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