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'Greatest drummer ever' Hal Blaine dies

'Greatest drummer ever' Hal Blaine dies

Legendary drummer Hal Blaine died today at the age of 90, his family announced on Facebook. “May he rest forever on 2 and 4,” the family said in a statement.

Hal Blaine, one of the most prolific and influential drummers of his generation, has died at the age of 90.

Over the course of his career, he played on countless hits by Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, the Beach Boys and John Lennon, amongst others.

But his most recognisable riff was the "boom-ba-boom-crack" bar that opened The Ronnettes' Be My Baby.

On hearing of his death, the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson called him "the greatest drummer ever".

Blaine was born Harold Simon Belsky in Holyoke, Massachusetts on 5 February, 1929.

He started playing drums at the age of eight, using rails he'd removed from a chair in the living room. He later received tuition from Roy Knapp, who also taught Gene Krupa how to play, and became a session musician in the 1950s.

The following decade, he became a crucial member of the Wrecking Crew, a group of elite Los Angeles session players who served as Phil Spector's studio band and helped shape his signature "Wall of Sound" technique.

Blaine took credit for the band's nickname, arguing they were seen as a destructive force in the buttoned-down music industry.

Although the Wrecking Crew's contributions were largely overlooked in their prime, their reputation grew over the years, and the band were inducted into the Musicians' Hall of Fame in 2007.

The fill that opened Be My Baby, in particular, became a rock standard - the drum equivalent of Chuck Berry's Johnny B Goode riff. It's been replicated on songs like The Jesus and Mary Chain's Just Like Honey, The Hollies' Just Like A Rock, Lykke Li's Sadness Is A Blessing and Duran Duran's Is There Something I Should Know.

Incredibly, the riff came about by accident: "I was supposed to play the snare on the second beat as well as the fourth, but I dropped a stick," Blaine later admitted.

In later years, he published his memoirs, appeared at symposiums and gave lessons to aspiring drummers.

A statement from his family said he died peacefully at home.

"May he rest forever on 2 and 4," said a Facebook post.

"The family appreciates your outpouring of support and prayers that have been extended to Hal from around the world, and respectfully request privacy in this time of great mourning. No further details will be released at this time."