Jerry Cole, one of the premier session guitarists from the glory-days of pop and rock ‘n’ roll, died Wednesday, May 28 at the age of 68. When he wasn’t busy fronting budding surf stars Jerry Cole and the Spacemen for 3 albums on the Capitol label, Cole was right at home playing whatever someone else’s recording date called for. Whether it was surf, country, jazz, blues or psychedelia, Jerry Cole could do it all.
Cole played on dates by both Frank and Nancy Sinatra, Elvis Presley, the Byrds, Ray Charles, Ricky Nelson, Dick Dale, the Beach Boys, B.B. King Johnny Rivers and a multitude of others too numerous to mention. In addition to all his well-documented studio work, Cole filled many a late night by recording hundreds of low-priced budget LPs under a bevy of assumed group names. He enlisted the very best studio-honed musicians to cut these drugstore-ready recordings: Earl Palmer on drums, Larry Knechtel on bass, Steve Douglas on tenor sax and Don Randi on keyboards. “It would flow so much easier because these guys knew exactly what was demanded of them,” said Cole to Sundazed in 2005. Of all the plaudits that came his way, Cole was proudest of being legendary record producer Phil Spector’s favorite guitarist. “I beat out Glen Campbell, I beat out James Burton, I beat out Tommy Tedesco,” said Cole. “I thought that was pretty much of an honor.” A vital part of the extended Sundazed family and a man every bit as professional in an interview as he was in the studio, Jerry Cole will be deeply missed.