Carol Kaye: I Never Really Wanted to Do Studio Work

Scott K Fish

Silver Member
Carol Kaye: I Never Really Wanted to Do Studio Work

SKF NOTE: In the early 1980s, when I spoke with musician Carol Kaye, I felt incredibly fortunate. I still feel that way. I was working to put together a history of rock drummers that, at times, was tough to piece together. This was pre-internet and a time when drummers were just starting to gain recognition for their pivotal role in music history. Ron Spagnardi's Modern Drummer magazine helped in that regard in a big way.

Click here for more on the back story to my backgrounder interviews.

This is a transcript from the early 1980s, I'm sure, of Carol Kaye's half of our interview. I transcribed none of my questions. My interest at the time was in what Ms. Kaye had to say. I would remember what questions I asked. So in the interest of time, I limited my manual typewriter transcribing to Carol Kaye's comments.

Ours was a phone interview taped to audio cassette. I was in my office at Modern Drummer. Carol was in California in, I believe, her home. I don't remember specifically how she and I met, or the circumstances leading up to this interview. I might have been given Carol's name and number by another musician. But I think I found her phone number on my own.

As with some of my other background interviews, Carol has some intriguing stories about Motown recording sessions. And we learn more about session drummer Jesse Sailes. Then Carol speaks about working with Phil Spector and other hit -- she calls them "biggies" -- records on which she played either guitar or bass.

I was unable to fact check every one of Ms. Kaye's memories. But I was able to fact check many of them -- and found no conflicts. Maybe some other writer or blogger has already solved the various Motown session stories. And maybe Carol Kaye's remarks here include a missing piece or two of the puzzle.


Carol Kaye: We were recording in a studio above a garage. Armin Steiner's garage. We did an awful lot of records there for about two or three years. And the first drummer I worked with was Jesse Sailes. He told Motown about me because I'd worked a few other kind of record dates with Jesse. He's a Dixieland drummer who plays with Teddy Buckner out at Disneyland now. He had done an awful lot of Motown.

After that came Earl Palmer. And then they used Paul Humphrey on a very few of them. It was mostly Jesse Sailes first and then Earl Palmer later. Earl played on some of the biggies like Bernadette and Love Child.

Scott K Fish Blog: Life Beyond the Cymbals Click Here to Read the Full Carol Kaye Interview

Scott K Fish

Silver Member
Armin Steiner: Recording Motown in L.A.

SKF NOTE: My Carol Kaye transcript, and other of my backgrounder interviews, prompted questioning from some readers about West coast musicians recording early Motown records.

Several musicians and other music industry people told me some (many?) of those Motown recordings took place in Armin Steiner‘s garage studio in Los Angeles. Other musicians and music industry people have a different story.

With that in mind, here are two interview segments of Armin Steiner talking about recording Motown songs in his studio. The first and longest segment is from the transcript of an interview from the early '80s by percussionist Mark Stevens and Armin Steiner. Mr. Stevens interviewed a few noted recording engineers and put together a Modern Drummer feature story on miking and recording drums.

The second segment is from a 2001 MIX magazine interview with Mr. Steiner by Maureen Droney.

Caveat: I am sorry for not including the entire post on this forum. But I am traveling this morning and my time is unusually limited. Thank you.

Scott K Fish Blog: Life Beyond the Cymbals Click Here to Read Armin Steiner Interviews


Senior Member
To think what a contribution she made with all those artist! Being in the wrecking crew, which btw there is a documentry out, where Carole talks with members of the WC like Hal Blaine and others talking of their experience!


Platinum Member
I love the Wrecking Crew documentary and every interview with any of them show how clever they all were. By clever I mean they took any gig of any style and made it work. Talk about being in the right place at the right time!

The interviews with Tommy Tedesco are amazing especially when he talks about playing the same piece of music on any TV show that had something Spanish or South American on it.

Considering she never wanted to do studio I think she was OK at it :)