Ignored Obscured Restored
One of the most important songs in the history of Rock and Roll is “Be My Baby” by the Ronettes. The most distinctive feature of the Phil Spector produced track, other than Ronnie Spector’s outstanding vocal, is the opening beat played by Wrecking Crew drummer Hal Blaine, which has become known as the Hal Blaine Beat. You may not know it by name, but you will instantly recognize the ‘Bum-ba-bum-BOOM’ beat in the song’s intro.
Blaine was modest about his “invention” of the beat, saying:
“That famous drum intro was an accident. I was supposed to play the snare on the second beat as well as the fourth, but I dropped a stick. Being the faker I was in those days, I left the mistake in and it became: ‘Bum-ba-bum-BOOM!’ And soon everyone wanted that beat.”
Now I don’t mean to start a controversy here, or to take credit away from the huge contribution Blaine made to popular music, but that rhythm had been “a thing” before Blaine’s happy accident. In fact, the Brazilian baion beat (as it is formally known), was used on the Leiber and Stoller produced recordings by The Drifters – “There Goes My Baby”, ”Save the Last Dance for Me”, and “Under the Boardwalk”, though not as prominently as it was on “Be My Baby”.
Phil Spector acknowledged that “There Goes My Baby” was a major influence on his Wall of Sound technique.
But let me be clear. The way Blaine played the beat has been an inspiration for hundreds of other songs from The Beach Boys outstanding “Don’t Worry Baby”
… to Badfinger’s “Baby Blue”
…to Billy Joel’s “Say Goodbye to Hollywood”
… to “Just Like Honey” by the Jesus and Mary Chain, the SotW on March 25, 2017.
Tonypop has compiled a list of 373 songs in a Spotify playlist called “Be my baby! – The songs that use Hal Blaine’s drum intro of “Be My Baby” by The Ronettes.” You can listen to it using this link:
Enjoy… until next week.