A member of the elite cadre of Los Angeles session musicians known as the “Wrecking Crew,” guitarist Bill Pitman (February 12, 1920-August 11, 2022) played on hundreds of recordings for such artists as Mel Torme, Buddy Rich, Frank Sinatra, The Mamas & the Papas, The Everly Brothers, The Ronettes, Elvis Presley, Jan & Dean, The Monkees, Sam Cooke, James Brown, The Carpenters, and The Beach Boys.
A New Jersey native (his father was a bass player for NBC in New York), Pitman went West after serving in World War II, to study at the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music and Arts. His session work would lead him to producer Phil Spector (to whom, years earlier, he’d given guitar lessons) and to countless pop and rock songs that helped define the era. He performed on hundreds of recordings (in one year alone he played in 425 recording sessions), such as The Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds” album (including “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”), Frank Sinatra’s “Strangers In The Night,” The Byrds’ “Mr. Tambourine Man,” and Barbra Streisand’s “The Way We Were.”
He also played on TV and movie soundtracks (from “MASH” to “Bonanza” and “Star Trek”). Though his performances were often anonymous, they were nonetheless memorable, whether he was wielding a Daneletro six-string bass guitar (on the theme for the TV series “The Wild, Wild West”), or a ukulele (on the Oscar-winning song from “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head”).