Friday, March 29, 2013

Hugh McCracken, RIP

I recently learned of the passing of studio guitar legend Hugh McCracken.   There is probably not a studio musician in New York who did not know and love him.

I first met Hugh through his brother-in-law, the late Norman Merschon.  Norman and I worked together in the band "Tycoon" for Arista Records in the late 1970's.  Norman brought me over to Hugh and Holly McCracken's East side apartment, where Hugh played us the Linn Drum demo record, which he was quite taken with at the time.

When I was a young guitar player trying to break in to the NYC session scene, Hugh gave me a couple of very nice breaks, including bringing me in to play with him on the song demo of "Love's Been a Little Bit Hard on Me", subsequently a big hit for Juice Newton. He also split his fee with me.

I worked with him on a number of jingles and records before and since. He was always very generous and self-effacing, while of course covering his own parts impeccably.  You almost didn't notice how good Hugh was, because he called so little attention to it.  Then he would play something jaw-dropping, and you'd go whoa! this guy can play.

Perhaps it is not notable in itself, but I believe we exchanged an unbroken string of Christmas cards since at least 1980.

In a business known for both its nice guys and its jerks, Hugh McCracken stood head and shoulders above the other nice guys.  I will miss him.


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