Julius Wechter (May 10, 1935 – February 1, 1999)
Primary Instrument: marimba, vibraphone Band: Baja Marimba Band
How about a little musical analogy ——
The Rolling Stones are to The Beatles as
______________ are to Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass!
If you said The Baja Marimba Band!! You would be correct and probably old!! On this date in 1935 the leader of the Band Julius Wechter was born!! To explain the analogy The Beatles we re the clean-cut good guys and the Stones the bad boys. And Jules says this about the Baja Marimba Band’s relationship to Herb and the Brass! They were….
“… like the Tijuana Brass’ bad little brothers. Herb [Alpert] and his group would dress in tuxedos and put on a tight, professional presentation. And we’d flop on stage in big sombreros and old clothes with big pasted-on mustaches, smoking cigars and drinking beer.”
Wechter was born in Chicago in 1935 and grew up in Hollywood. He played vibes and percussion for the Martin Denny group in the 1950s. In the early 1960s, he moved on to movie soundtracks and television, as well as session work for the likes of the Beach Boys, Sonny and Cher and various Phil Spector productions. In 1962 he received a call…..
…. to take his marimba to Herb Alpert’s garage, where “The Lonely Bull,” the first hit for what became the Tijuana Brass, was being recorded. Wechter continued to work with Alpert, an old acquaintance from high school days, as the TJB and Alpert’s new A&M label got going. Wechter composed “The Spanish Flea,” which became one of the most-recorded hits launched by the Tijuana Brass, covered by everyone from the squeaky-clean Doodletown Pipers to Homer Simpson. Read More at All About Jazz
Encouraged by Alpert, Wechter formed the Baja Marimba Band in 1964 and was quite successful. The “BMB” placed 4 chart songs in Billboard’s Top 100,and many more on their Easy Listening Top 40.
When the band disbanded in the mid 1970s, Wechter turned his attention to TV and movies again, scoring the Disney film Midnight Madness. He continued to play with Herb Alpert, joining his touring version of the Tijuana Brass in the mid 1970s. Full Biography at Wikipedia
In his later years, he devoted himself to psychology, earned a Master’s Degree, and served as vice president of the Southern California chapter of the Tourette Syndrome Association. A disease which Wechter suffered from.
He died at his home in California of lung cancer on February 1, 1999, a day after his song “Spanish Flea” was used in the Simpsons episode “Sunday, Cruddy Sunday
Here’s the Baja Marimba Band playing “Ghost Riders in the Sky” from the album Watch Out, which is in my vinyl library!! And let’s not forget to wish Julius Wechter “the marimba player in the sky” a Happy Birthday!