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Author Topic: Dennis as a studio drummer  (Read 13746 times)
KokoMoses
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« on: March 26, 2008, 05:49:21 AM »

Ok, this is a real geek question, but does anyone have any info about how Dennis was in the studio as far as drumming is concerned. Like, how many takes did he usually have to do? What was his temperment? What songs/sessions did he especially shine on or have problems? What was his approach in general?

Any interesting stories?
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aeijtzsche
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« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2008, 09:22:50 AM »

His approach was to do what Brian wanted.  Obviously, I wasn't there, but one can hear plenty of session tape from sessions where Dennis was drumming.  There was nothing terribly special about any of it.  He didn't mess up any more or less than anybody else, and remember they were tracking everything live so if one person messed up they had to do another take, so it wasn't really up to Dennis how many takes he'd do.  When he did make a mistake, he'd be the first to admit it.

He was surprisingly quiet when drumming, much more so than on the vocal sessions.  Not as silent-as-the-grave as Al, but he knew he was there because of Brian's grace.  There were a few songs where he kind of struggled to get it.  When I Grow Up springs to mind as a song he took awhile to fall into a groove.

But he was great on so many songs, adding that perfect exuberant drive of his.
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Alex
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« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2008, 09:33:14 AM »

Did Dennis play a lot of drums in the studio during the post-SMiLE era, (20/20, Sunflower, Surf's Up (I'm assuming Ricky did most of the drum work on CATP and Holland), 15 Big Ones, Love You, MIU, LA, KTSA, POB, Bambu) or did the Boys prefer studio drummers for those records, too?
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Jon Stebbins
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« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2008, 09:46:37 AM »

Did Dennis play a lot of drums in the studio during the post-SMiLE era, (20/20, Sunflower, Surf's Up (I'm assuming Ricky did most of the drum work on CATP and Holland), 15 Big Ones, Love You, MIU, LA, KTSA, POB, Bambu) or did the Boys prefer studio drummers for those records, too?
I'd say generally Dennis played on a few tracks on each of 20/20(Cottonfields, I Can Hear Music are two), Sunflower and Surf's Up(injured his had mid-sessions after playing on Student Demon. Time)...and then on 15BO he's on most of it, Love You a few including Honkin', not much on the rest other than POB...which he plays on maybe four or five, and Bambu which he plays on about half. A good place to read blow by blow of some earlier DW session work is on Craig's site www.beachboysarchives.com
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aeijtzsche
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« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2008, 10:02:25 AM »

Yes, Craig's site has some great blow by blow accounts of Dennis drumming in the studio.

BTW, it's quite likely Dennis only played drums on Add Some Music (if even that) on Sunflower.  The rest was Dennis Dragon, Hal, Earl Palmer, and a few others.
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Jon Stebbins
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« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2008, 11:29:02 AM »

Yes, Craig's site has some great blow by blow accounts of Dennis drumming in the studio.

BTW, it's quite likely Dennis only played drums on Add Some Music (if even that) on Sunflower.  The rest was Dennis Dragon, Hal, Earl Palmer, and a few others.
Thanks for the Sunflower info...I remember Desper saying Dennis played guitar on Slip On Through...what'ya think Aeijtzsche, any possibility that is true? I do know he played a little, very little, guitar...i think on Lady and somewhere on POB according to Karen. Both Gregg J. and Ed Roach have confirmed that Dennis played some "rudimentary" guitar. There was a very primitive guitar part on one of the Bambu tracks, wish i could remember which one but I'm drawing a blank... anyway, Hanlon isolated the track one day when i was in the studio with him during the latest sessions, and we were pretty sure it seemed like Dennis himself banging out some chords on acoustic or it might have been a dobro, but it was chords not slide.
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aeijtzsche
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« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2008, 12:48:13 PM »

Desper seems to remember Dennis playing more than a tiny bit of guitar.  I doubt he played on Slip On Through, but it's hard to be a touring musician for 20 years of your life and not pick up a little guitar.  Since Desper remembers Dennis playing guitar (and Brian playing Hal Blainesque drums, too!) he must have fooled around on it for some sessions, Lady would make sense.

Ah, to hear isolated tracks.  What I live for...and I've only heard like...one isolated beach boys track from a multi!


Since we're talking about Dennis as a drummer, it still knocks me out the way he taught himself to play drums.  I wonder how he figured it out.  He gravitated towards this open-handed style, meaning he kept the pulse on the hats with his left hand and hit the snare with his right (for the most part).  Jon, I think you said something about how he must have just felt good smacking the snare with his dominant hand.  But today, open hand drumming is considered sort of progressive, since most people still are crossing over to hit the hats with the right.  Of course that all stems out of the traditional military snare grip.

Anyway, Dennis made it work.

I thought of a couple good examples of Dennis' spirited drumming where he "shone", the released Dance, Dance, Dance and also All Dressed Up for School.

Obviously nothing spectacular, but he just locks it in in his unique loose way on those.
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Jon Stebbins
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« Reply #7 on: March 26, 2008, 02:04:48 PM »

Desper seems to remember Dennis playing more than a tiny bit of guitar.  I doubt he played on Slip On Through, but it's hard to be a touring musician for 20 years of your life and not pick up a little guitar.  Since Desper remembers Dennis playing guitar (and Brian playing Hal Blainesque drums, too!) he must have fooled around on it for some sessions, Lady would make sense.

Ah, to hear isolated tracks.  What I live for...and I've only heard like...one isolated beach boys track from a multi!


Since we're talking about Dennis as a drummer, it still knocks me out the way he taught himself to play drums.  I wonder how he figured it out.  He gravitated towards this open-handed style, meaning he kept the pulse on the hats with his left hand and hit the snare with his right (for the most part).  Jon, I think you said something about how he must have just felt good smacking the snare with his dominant hand.  But today, open hand drumming is considered sort of progressive, since most people still are crossing over to hit the hats with the right.  Of course that all stems out of the traditional military snare grip.

Anyway, Dennis made it work.

I thought of a couple good examples of Dennis' spirited drumming where he "shone", the released Dance, Dance, Dance and also All Dressed Up for School.

Obviously nothing spectacular, but he just locks it in in his unique loose way on those.
Agreed, when he had the right vibe it really worked. I like his playing on I'm So Young and on Girl Don't Tell Me.
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Shady
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« Reply #8 on: March 26, 2008, 02:28:18 PM »

Quote
and then on 15BO he's on most of it, Love You a few including Honkin', not much on the rest other than POB...which he plays on maybe four or five, and Bambu which he plays on about half. A good place to read blow by blow of some earlier DW session work is on Craig's site www.beachboysarchives.com

Always thought Brian was playing drums On Honkin', can't remember where I read that though.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2008, 02:29:22 PM by The Baker Man » Logged

According to someone who would know.

Seriously, there was a Beach Boys Love You condom?!  Amazing.
c-man
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« Reply #9 on: March 26, 2008, 03:45:16 PM »

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and then on 15BO he's on most of it, Love You a few including Honkin', not much on the rest other than POB...which he plays on maybe four or five, and Bambu which he plays on about half. A good place to read blow by blow of some earlier DW session work is on Craig's site www.beachboysarchives.com

Always thought Brian was playing drums On Honkin', can't remember where I read that though.

Naw, it was Dennis.  On the bootlegged version you can hear him doing the count-in. 
Someone somewhere (liner notes, book or fanzine artlice) assumed it was Brian, 'cause he does
play drums on a lot of "Love You", but Mona, Honkin', Pick You Up, and maybe a couple others are Denny.
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MBE
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« Reply #10 on: March 26, 2008, 08:41:24 PM »

I think Dennis really had a lot of physical power and energy and that innate quality is what made him the type of drummer he was. His sound is quite dynamic, like anything he did it came from the heart.
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the captain
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« Reply #11 on: March 26, 2008, 08:45:56 PM »

From the heart? I'd say maybe from somewhere a foot and a half south of there.
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aeijtzsche
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« Reply #12 on: March 26, 2008, 08:55:48 PM »

From the heart? I'd say maybe from somewhere a foot and a half south of there.

His appendix?
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KokoMoses
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« Reply #13 on: March 26, 2008, 11:25:24 PM »

Man, I'm loving all this info!

Being a drummer myself, it's incredible to watch Dennis in the early days. It's simply amazing to know that he went from being handed the drums out of not knowing how to play anything and having to make himself useful, to watching him bash away with such authority in all the footage everyone knows I'm talking about.

It's long been my opinion that Dennis along with Ringo invented rock drumming as we know it. Before those guys, rock drummers were mostly jazz and big band guys who were "slumming it"  in rock and played traditional grip with the emphasis on the ride and kick (upbeat with the hi-hat via pedal) and with a good deal of swing. Dennis and Ringo came along and really pounded out a clobbering beat with cracking snare on the upbeat. They really just laid down that 4/4 rock beat that feels so good. Just think about how many great drummers were mezmerized by Dennis and Ringo on TV and decided to pursue drumming. Their impact is staggering when you think about it.
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CarCrazyCutie
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« Reply #14 on: March 27, 2008, 01:32:46 AM »

I think Dennis really had a lot of physical power and energy and that innate quality is what made him the type of drummer he was. His sound is quite dynamic, like anything he did it came from the heart.


I can't agree with you more. He doesn't get alot of credit for his work as a drummer, but as far as live drummers go there's no one I've seen or heard that's ever topped him because no one put more of their heart and soul into it than he did.
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donald
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« Reply #15 on: March 27, 2008, 06:10:14 AM »

I've wondered if Hal Blaine didn't teach Dennis some licks over the years.  I've read they were personal friends and spent some leisure time together.  "Hey Hal,can you show me that thing you did on the record so I can do it on stage?"
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Aegir
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« Reply #16 on: March 27, 2008, 07:33:19 AM »

I love the drumming Dennis did on the California Girls intro. He's hitting the drums at the same time Hal or whoever did in the studio recording, but whereas Blaine just did tiny little taps, Dennis pounded the hell out of the drums. Knebworth is a good example of this.
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KokoMoses
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« Reply #17 on: March 27, 2008, 08:12:13 AM »

Dennis ruled
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mikee
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« Reply #18 on: March 27, 2008, 08:55:15 PM »

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it still knocks me out the way he taught himself to play drums.  I wonder how he figured it out.  He gravitated towards this open-handed style, meaning he kept the pulse on the hats with his left hand and hit the snare with his right (for the most part).

I always felt, seeing him play,  that he was actually left handed - and that this was the self- taught way he ended up doing it,  after initially copying R. hand techniques.  Jon do you have any idea if Dennis did other things left handed.   (Ahh I mean like  throw, catch, write, eat, shoot pool, etc.)

Who is the drummer on 'Breakaway'? - And who is guy who grunts at the start of the track, if not Dennis? It would be cool if it was Murry.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2008, 08:58:23 PM by mikee » Logged
Jason
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« Reply #19 on: March 27, 2008, 09:16:28 PM »

Who is the drummer on 'Breakaway'? - And who is guy who grunts at the start of the track, if not Dennis? It would be cool if it was Murry.

I believe the drummer on Breakaway was Jim Gordon, I THINK, not sure.

The "grunt" at the beginning of the track is the tail-end of the count-in. On the Friends/20/20 reissue bonus track, this is left in, but on the Good Vibrations box set and some other issues with the track, the "grunt" is chopped off perfectly.
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MBE
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« Reply #20 on: March 28, 2008, 02:22:30 AM »

The grunt always sounded like Carl to me.
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c-man
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« Reply #21 on: March 28, 2008, 04:53:38 AM »

The grunt always sounded like Carl to me.

To me, it's always sounded like Brian.
The drummer on "Breakaway" is Allen Breneman, who also played on some Gene Vincent sessions.
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Jon Stebbins
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« Reply #22 on: March 28, 2008, 01:27:02 PM »

Quote
it still knocks me out the way he taught himself to play drums.  I wonder how he figured it out.  He gravitated towards this open-handed style, meaning he kept the pulse on the hats with his left hand and hit the snare with his right (for the most part).

I always felt, seeing him play,  that he was actually left handed - and that this was the self- taught way he ended up doing it,  after initially copying R. hand techniques.  Jon do you have any idea if Dennis did other things left handed.   (Ahh I mean like  throw, catch, write, eat, shoot pool, etc.)

Who is the drummer on 'Breakaway'? - And who is guy who grunts at the start of the track, if not Dennis? It would be cool if it was Murry.
Dennis wrote, threw and batted right handed. He surfed left left foot forward, right foot back.
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TdHabib
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« Reply #23 on: March 28, 2008, 08:17:03 PM »

Is it true that Dennis added a few drum licks to "Breakaway"?

And who played the drums to "Be With Me," was that Dennis?
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mikeyj
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« Reply #24 on: March 28, 2008, 10:57:29 PM »

I thought it would be interesting to compile a list of all the songs that Dennis played drums on. Of course this is going to be incomplete and in some cases I'm sure there will be errors. I'm probably wrong, but I'm assuming Dennis played drums on all of the songs on the first two albums besides a couple like "Surfin'", "Surfin' USA" etc...? And wasn't it Carl on "Moon Dawg"? Anyway after those two albums here's what I have written down as Dennis drums:

A Casual Look
All Dressed Up For School
Back Home
Beach Boy Stomp
Chapel Of Love
Child Of Winter
Cotton Fields
Dance, Dance, Dance (both versions)
Do It Again
Endless Harmony
Everyone's In Love With You
Girl Don't Tell Me
Had To Phone Ya
Honkin' Down The Highway
I Can Hear Music
I Wanna Pick You Up
I'm So Young
In The Still Of The Night
It's OK
Just Once In My Life
Mona
Rock And Roll Music
Sail Plane Song
She Knows Me Too Well
Student Demonstration Time
Talk To Me
That Same Song
That's Not Me
Then I Kissed Her
TM Song
When I Grow Up (To Be A Man)
Wild Honey
You're So Good To Me

Anyone have any corrections/additions?
« Last Edit: March 29, 2008, 06:05:22 AM by mikeyj » Logged
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