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Digital Subscriptions > Guitar Magazine > Dec 17 > SPECIAL KAYE


Carol Kaye is one of the greatest session players of all time. From The Beach Boys and Simon & Garfunkel to Frank Zappa and Phil Spector, the one-time Wrecking Crew member has contributed bass and guitar to an estimated 10,000 recording sessions. She spoke to DAVID GALLANT to explode some myths and give an insider’s view of some of the most seminal sessions of all time…
© Getty Images
Carol switched from an Epiphone Emperor to an early Jazzmaster for electric sessions
© Getty Images

The corner of the Californian desert in which Carol Kaye resides is nothing if not a tranquil place – out here away from everyone, the peace is almost palpable, broken only by the intermittent chatter of the cicadas. It’s a far cry from Downtown LA and the city hubbub where Kaye was once one of the busiest and most sought after musicians on the West Coast session scene. From the late 1950s to the late 60s she never seemed to be out of the studio, busy laying down tracks that would go on to help define the course of popular music.

Born in the middle of the Depression in Everett, Washington, Kaye’s parents were both professional musicians. Her father played the trombone in a band and her mother taught piano at the primary school. “They didn’t have a good marriage,” says Kaye candidly. “I was the last of three girls and my dad really wanted a boy. When my mom got mad with my dad, she used to play Chopin and Ragtime. Great music on the piano. I got a whole dose of that.” When Pearl Harbour happened, Kaye remembers her dad packing the family into the car and driving them south to California. “We moved into a housing project close by to where they built ships and aircraft and I remember that we were on welfare for a while. When I was nine I was scrubbing floors, doing everything I could to put food on the table.”

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About Guitar Magazine

The December 2017 issue of The Guitar Magazine is on sale now! Inside, you’ll find a massive 24-page feature devoted to The Secrets Of Studio Guitar. Following exclusive insights into the golden era of session guitar from Wrecking Crew luminary Carol Kaye and Tommy Tedesco’s son Denny, we move into the modern age (albeit via a raft of vintage tube amps) with recording tips courtesy of Grammy-winning producer Dave Cobb, first-call LA guitarist Josh Smith’s guide to the perfect session and a tale of how digital modelling can be the answer to your sonic prayers. Elsewhere in the mag, we pay tribute to Tom Petty, review a raft of hot new gear from the likes of Fender, Maybach, Satellite Amps, G&L and Keeley and show you how to build your own acoustic guitar in the latest instalment of DIY Workshop. For all that and a FREE 2018 calendar packed full of beautifully photographed vintage and star guitars, pick up your copy of the December issue of The Guitar Magazine now!