Barney Kessel

This audio only interview was conducted for a radio program by Dan Del Fiorentino and donated to the NAMM Oral History program: Barney Kessel was a well-respected and sought-after studio musician who became part of the famed “Wrecking Crew.” He was also an innovative jazz technician who inspired generations of musicians. Barney can be heard on such classic recordings as “Cry Me a River” by Julie London (1955), “How High the Moon” by Sonny Rollins (1958), and “Wouldn't It Be Nice” by The Beach Boys (1966). In 1961, Gibson introduced the Barney Kessel Guitar model, which was in production until 1973. Although this interview was recorded after a stroke that impaired his speech, Barney still expressed the love he had for life and music in his every word.  His beloved wife, Phyllis, approved our decision to post this interview as we do so out of complete respect for Barney and the amazing music he gave us all.

Image courtesy of the Downbeat archives and Contemporary Records.

Interview Date:
July 16, 1999
Date of Birth:
October 17, 1923
Deceased Date:
May 6, 2004
Job Title:
Studio Musician

If you have updated information, contact or demographic details on this person, please contact Dan Del Fiorentino