You’ve Heard These Hands, by Don Randi (2015): Books

Share this:

The Wrecking Crew, Denny Tedesco’s documentary about a tightly knit group of studio musicians in the 1960s and 1970s, gave music fans a detailed look of the group as a whole, and their contributions to pop music. You’ve Heard These Hands, the autobiography written by Wrecking Crew keyboard player Don Randi (written with Karen “Nish” Nishimura) gives us a close-up look at the musical and personal journey of one of its key members.

The book recalls Randi’s journey from playing piano in the Catskills resorts as a teen to a career working on many of the most revered recordings of the ’60s. He played keyboards and worked as a composer and arranger for hundreds of popular artists and producers, including Phil Spector, Nancy Sinatra, Linda Ronstadt, Abba, the Jackson Five, the Monkees, Sonny and Cher and the Beach Boys. (That’s Randi playing the keyboards on “Good Vibrations” and “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’”)

He was a member of Nancy Sinatra’s touring band from the 1960s to the mid-2000s, and he shares a few stories about fun times they had performing in Vegas and throughout the world. “Of all the people I’ve worked with, the most outstanding in my mind will always be Nancy Sinatra,” he writes, citing Nancy’s fairness when dealing with back-up musicians and singers. Randi’s experiences with another female star of the ‘60s weren’t as pleasant. As the music advisor for Raquel Welch’s 1970 TV special, Raquel’s limited vocal ability was the least of his concerns. Many people have hinted that Welch was a diva to work with, and Don Randi verifies that here.

Most of the book’s 48 short chapters deal with one of the artists or producers Randi has worked with, from Elvis Presley and Neil Diamond to “Wonder Woman” Lynda Carter. The later chapters cover his childhood and his fledging days in the music business in New York.

There are lively stories about performing in clubs frequented by Hollywood musicians and celebrities, including Sherry’s (where he had a regular gig), Pandora’s Box and the Melody Room — just the names conjure up visions of cigar smoke, martinis and Rat Pack members. (And, of course, Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin make an appearance). Post-Wrecking Crew, Randi has released several jazz albums, and he still occasionally plays live at his Studio City nightclub, the Baked Potato, with his band, Quest.

Don Randi’s You’ve Heard These Hands is a fun, breezy read, full of behind-the-scenes anecdotes from the pop music world of the 1960s and 1970s. It’s worth checking out if you’re a ’60s music enthusiast, or if you enjoy entertainment autobiographies.

Jade Blackmore

Jade Blackmore

Jade Blackmore has written about classic rock, hard rock/metal and indie films for EarCandy Mag, Rock Confidential, Cinema Sentries, Perfect Sound Forever and Entertainment Today, among others. Her past day jobs in the entertainment industry included stints with Mix Magazine, Bourne Music and Boxoffice Magazine. She lives in Los Angeles. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Jade Blackmore
Share this:
  • Nish Nishimura

    Thank you for a wonderful review! And for mentioning me as well 🙂

Close