Hal Blaine (born Harold Simon Belsky; February 5, 1929 – March 11, 2019) was an American drummer and session musician estimated to be among the most recorded studio drummers in the history of the music industry, claiming over 35,000 sessions and 6,000 singles. His drumming is featured on 150 US top 10 hits, 40 of which went to number one, as well as many film and television soundtracks.
Blaine was born Harold Simon Belsky to Jewish Eastern European immigrants, Meyer and Rose Belsky (nee Silverman), in Holyoke, Massachusetts. He began playing drums at the age of eight, and moved with his family to California in 1943.
From 1949 to 1952, Blaine learned drums from Roy Knapp, who had also taught jazz drummer Gene Krupa. He began his professional career playing overnight sessions in Chicago strip clubs, which allowed him to practice and perfect his sight reading skills. He subsequently played as part of Count Basie's big band and toured with Patti Page and Tommy Sands before taking up session work. Unlike many of his jazz contemporaries, Blaine enjoyed playing rock and roll and this meant he played on numerous such sessions during the 1950s. He was a core member of the Wrecking Crew, the close-knit group of Los Angeles session musicians that played on hit records during the 1960s. Blaine claimed to have invented the name as he thought the musicians were a "destructive force" in the conservative studio environment of the time.
Blaine played less session work from the 1980s onwards as computers and electronics began to be used in studios, and producers began to bring in younger players. The popularisation of the drum machine also reduced demand for session drummers like Blaine. He kept busy recording advertising jingles for a number of years, before semi-retiring from performing. Most of his wealth was lost following his divorce. At one point, he was working as a security guard in Arizona.