Obituary: Who was Bill Pitman? Tributes pour in as Los Angeles guitarist dies at 102
The well-known session guitarist Bill Pitman, a member of the Wrecking Crew group, just passed away at the age of 102. Pitman passed away on August 11 at his La Quinta, California, home, according to The New York Times. According to his wife Janet Pitman, he passed away under hospice care after injuring his spine in a fall.
Pitman was born on February 12th, 1920, and was raised in a musical family. His father was an NBC staff bass player for programs. Bill Pitman first became interested in music when he was five years old, and during high school, he frequently traveled from New Jersey to Manhattan to take in the city’s jazz culture.
He served in the military during World War II as well, and then he moved to Los Angeles. In the 1950s, Bill Pitman began performing in jazz clubs in LA when he was 31 years old. After landing a regular gig in Peggy Lee’s backup band, he gained notoriety. Pitman spent three years as a frequent performer for the radio program The Rusty Draper Show after that.
Pitman’s well-known compositions include his work on the Beach Boys’ Good Vibrations, the Ronettes’ Be My Baby, Bob Dylan’s Mr. Tambourine Man, and Barbra Streisand’s The Way We Were.
Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head by BJ Thomas’ ukulele entrance was also played by the performer.
Bill Pitman started working as a session artists in 1957
The 1958 song To Know Him Is To Love Him by Spector was the first hit for the band Wrecking Crew. Pitman quickly became in demand for Capitol Records and other Los Angeles-based artists after releasing the song.
His session partners at the time included Leon Russell, Carol Kaye, and Glen Campbell. Pitman worked with a number of well-known musicians, including Frank Sinatra, The Beach Boys, and Bob Dylan.
Additionally, he made contributions to a number of movies, such as Blue Hawaii, an Elvis Presley movie from 1961, as well as M*A*S*H, Fast Times At Ridgemont High, Dirty Dancing, and Goodfellas (1990).
In 2008, Pitman had an appearance in the documentary The Wrecking Crew, where he discussed his work with the loosely organized band of musicians.
Denny Tedesco, the son of Tommy Tedesco, a fellow guitarist for the Wrecking Crew, directed the documentary.
Additionally, he provided music for Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Goodfellas as well as several commercial jingles and movie soundtracks. Throughout the 1970s, the artist also went on tour with performers like Vicki Carr and Burt Bacharach. The lead band at the MGM Grand Hotel included Bill Pitman as well.
The artist retired in 1989 but kept up his love of playing music in private.