JOLIET – In the late 1970s, when Diana Missig of Channahon lived in California, she became friends with the Tedesco family. Its patriarch, Tommy Tedesco, was a studio musician.
Missig, then a publishing assistant for Warner Brothers Music and executive assistant to the vice president of United Artist Records international division, enjoyed the family’s big Sunday Italian dinners and laughing over Tommy’s practical jokes, like dressing up in a pink tutu on Halloween.
The fun occurred amidst Tommy’s crazy work schedule. Tommy, Missig said, worked days, evenings and in the middle of the night.
“He just never knew what his schedule would be. He’d work all day, come home and sleep and then go back at work at night,” Missig said. “He was putting out an album a day for different artists.”
Welcome to the world of The Wrecking Crew.
The Wrecking Crew was a group of studio musicians who played on many popular hit songs in the 1960s and 1970s, often without acknowledgment, said Denny Tedesco of California, Tommy’s son, and director and producer of a documentary film about The Wrecking Crew.
On May 14, the Rialto Square Theatre will host a special viewing of the film. Ticket proceeds will help raise the final funds needed for the cost of licensing the film’s music.
“I think the world needs to know about it,” Missig said. “No one today would work on an album or CD without recognition. And that’s legendary.”
Besides providing the music to countless scores and jingles, The Wrecking Crew backed such recording artists as The 5th Dimension, The Beach Boys, The Carpenters, John Denver, The Mamas & The Papas, The Monkees, The Partridge Family, Nat King Cole, Simon & Garfunkel, Nancy Sinatra and Bobby Vee, to name a few, Missig said.
Although Denny Tedesco has shown “The Wrecking Crew: A Documentary” at national and international film festivals, Missig said, this Joliet showing will be the unveiling of the latest version of the film. Following the screening, Tedesco will host a question and answer session.
And it’s all because of Facebook.
Several years ago, when Missig created her account, she searched for names from her past. She found Denny Tedesco, messaged him and the two soon were chatting on the telephone about old times. That’s when she learned about his project and Missig’s interest perked up.
“Tommy was such a great guy and I believe God put us together so I could help,” Missig said. “So if I could do something and didn’t, that wouldn’t be right.”
Missig contacted several potential locations and sponsors but nothing ever materialized, until she talked to staff at the Rialto Square Theatre.
For Denny Tedesco, the project began in 1996 when his father was battling terminal cancer and he decided to record some of his father’s musical memories. After his father died, Tedesco created a short film, shared it with family and friends and then kept going.
“I thought, ‘This means nothing if no one sees it,’” he said. “I had to finish it.”
The problem with continuing was the prohibitive cost of licensing the music – all 131 music cues of it – and distributing the film, Tedesco said. The licensing alone has cost $500,000, he added. And while he certainly dug deeply into his own pockets, Tedesco isn’t rich by any means and neither was his hard-working father.
To help finance the project, Tedesco worked with a fiscal sponsor, as well as Kickstarter. According to a news release from Denny Tedesco’s production company, Lunch Box Entertainment, “The Wrecking Crew: A Documentary,” is now eligible for funding through International Documentary Foundation, a California nonprofit, tax-exempt corporation.
“We’re down to the last $25,000,” Tedesco said.
With a long list of celebrity guest stars and songs audiences all over the world love to sing, the documentary is anything but grim.
“As people listen to it, they get smiles across their faces,” Tedesco said. “Everyone knows this music. And it blows my mind.”
IF YOU GO
What: “The Wrecking Crew: a Documentary”
When: 7 p.m., May 14
Where: Rialto Square Theatre, 102 N. Chicago St., Joliet
Etc: Denny Tedesco, son of Wrecking Crew band member, has documented the studio musicians that played on most 1960s top pop hits. Film features star-studded guest appearances. Q&A with Tedesco follows the film’s preview.
Tickets: $22, adults and $17, seniors and students. Purchase directly at box office or by calling 815-726-6600
Visit: www.rialtosquare.com/wrecking_crew.asp and www.wreckingcrewfilm.com
According to press material, “The Wrecking Crew: A Documentary” features appearances by: