August 28, 2009


LARRY KNECHTEL  8/14/40 – 8/20/9

Larry Knechtel was one of the greatest studio players of all time. From recording with Johnny Rivers, Duane Eddy, The Doors, The Byrds, and being part of the group Bread, to his classic piano part on Simon and Garfunkle’s “Bridge Over Troubled Waters”…he left his stamp on everything he touched.

On Sun, Aug 23, 2009 at 8:29 AM, my longtime friend Patti Dahlstrom wrote:

Dearest Family and Friends,

I have just received the sad news today from Art Munson and Artie Wayne that a dear friend of mine, Larry Knechtel, has passed on.  Larry was a legend in pop music, still more than that he was one of the most down-to-earth people and true hearts I have ever known.  I was blessed to have Larry play piano on my 3rd album.  He came into my life when I was deeply heart-broken, as I had lost a great love and my piano player.  He stepped in with compassion and patience and we quickly became good friends. He played piano, bass, harmonica and sang background vocals, as well as producing and arranging my 4th album on which we had a song we wrote together, Changing Minds, which will be included on my CD release here in the UK.

The last time we exchanged emails was on his birthday August 4th.  Leo rules the heart and he had a big one that gave and gave until it finally gave out.  The obits say he played a concert the week before.  It is only fitting that Larry should play until the end. The earth is a sadder venue without him.  He was a great friend whom I treasured.

Here is a song I wrote with Artie Wayne when Jim Croce died, “Sending My Good Thoughts To You”.  Larry is playing piano on it.  It is appropriate that I send it out in his memory now.  Thank you for everything, Larry.



Respectfully, Artie Wayne

Above photo of Larry Knechtel  Copyright 2009 by Patti Dahlstrom

Copyright 2009 by Artie Wayne





  1. Denise Ferri Says:

    Larry was such and incredible talent on many levels,he will be truly missed.
    This song “Sending My Good Thoughts To You” just about sums it up..It is beautiful,so moving and from the heart. Thank you for sharing this wonderful tribute Artie.
    With love,

  2. Patti Says:

    Larry took any song I wrote, including this one with you, Artie, and made it a better song by his interpretation.
    Still he was a better person than he was a great talent; that tells you all I can say about the man.
    The earth is less without his presence.

  3. David Spinozza Says:

    I hadn’t worked with Larry in a long time, but I remember his great work on a Paul Simon recording we did many years ago. There are a lot of fine piano players, but just a few that really understand the art of accompaniment. He understood it and made good songs sound even better.
    I wish I had spent more time with him and gotten to know him better.

    He will be missed & remembered.

    David Spinozza

  4. Art Munson Says:

    Larry will be sorely missed. Artie wanted me to pass on a story I had about working with Larry on the Sammy Johns “Chevy Van” album.

  5. dave heasman Says:

    Larry’s piano solo on Duane Eddy’s “You Are My Sunshine” was the best piano solo I have ever heard.

  6. Artie Wayne Says:

    an e-mail from Al Schmitt

    “I loved working with larry, he could do anything and played bass as well as piano and not many people could play harmonica like him, he was a dream to have on a session. Al”

  7. We have lost the true consummate and ultimate “session player”. R.I.P.

  8. Jimmy George Says:

    Hi Artie:

    Larry was a good friend and one of the best musicians in LA. He will be sadly missed. Jimmy

  9. Tom Slocum Says:

    He was a great player, I cannot recall how many sessions at A&M I would run into Larry Coming or going.Gene Clark from The Byrds introduced me to him.Henry Lewy,Jim Dickson, Eddie Ticknor.. Larry Marks, “Thirty Days Out”..any project Larry Worked on, got better, cause he was playing, contributing, Refining…Condolences..

  10. Val Garay Says:

    There are few words to describe the talent this man had! I worked with Larry for the first time in the summer of 1966 at, you guessed it, Western Studio 3 which in that period of time was his second home and many times there after during my Sound Factory/Dave Hassinger days! Then again in Nashville. I also knew Jimmy Griffin from the early Electra days when Bread was a trio with Rob Royer and Jimmy asked me one day if I knew Larry because they were thinking of using him in the band and I told him he was one of the best keyboard/Bass players I had ever worked with!
    There will be a gapping hole in the Piano world now for sure!

  11. Hi Artie ..

    So sad to lose such giant talents and giant hearts .. Patti sent me the article about Larry’s passing. He played on several recordings of my songs including my first solo album. Roger Nichols introduced me to Larry and the sessions he played on were magical.

    Although Jeff Barry and I go waaaay back I missed the Ellie years. The mark she left on the American music scene is indelible and for “Be My Baby” alone she deserves a statue!

    I hope all is wonderful at Wayne manor. Stay healthy.

    Blessings, Paul

  12. Jack Carone Says:

    In the dictionary, under “session Piano player”, there is not a picture of Larry–but there should be. His is a name seen so often on recording credits that it is a virtual mantra. We have recently lost so many creative brothers and sisters, Larry’s spirit is in stellar company. Unfortunately, he joined them way too soon. Regards and wishes for peace to Larry and all those close to him.

  13. Brian O'Neal Says:

    Artie, I now have a “new” musician to go dive into. I can tell by the testimonials and the recorded legacy he left behind he was a great one. I’ve probably listened to his work with others without knowing it for years, but I’m getting ready to be an appreciator. That’s the great thing about doing great work – – it speaks for you, forever and a day. RIP Larry.

  14. Mandi Martin Says:

    I first met Larry during a Johnny Rivers session at Western Recorders in the mid-60s. Wow, could he play!!! It didn’t take long before everybody in town was hiring him for session work! And, rightfully so! Larry was one of the most talented, down-to-earth, creatively generous and encouraging people I’ve ever met!

    Jimmy Griffin was an old friend (also gone way too soon!)and when I was working for Ray Charles and Ray was out on the road, I had permission to bring Jimmy and Rob Royer into the studio and record some of their song demos for them. Not long after that, Jimmy, Rob and David Gates formed Bread. Then they asked Larry to come aboard. What a great group they were!

    The last time I communicated with Larry, he was celebrating his birthday in early August. We talked about getting together for lunch one day soon to catch up. Guess that will have to wait.

    R.I.P. Larry! You will never be forgotten!


  15. Peter S. Burke Says:

    In 1966, Wally Heider called Larry and asked him to come in to add his touch(es) on recordings my band, Stillwaters, was making over in Wally’s studio on Selma Avenue. Larry listened to the track(s) and decided what he was gonna do…play harp on a couple of tracks. And that contribution alone made us sound like bands on the radio. We entered one of the tracks in KFWB’s on the air Battle of the Bands and took 2nd Place. Without Larry’s contribution, we probably wouldn’t have gotten anywhere! Despite Larry’s contributions, we got nowhere anyway!

    Great musician, funny guy, nice knowing him!


  16. Larry Henley Says:

    He was a great friend, a great musician, and a great artist. You can’t get any better than he was.

  17. Tom Diehl Says:

    The first time I had heard of Larry Knechtel was when I was a child and had bought a copy of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” 45 in an antique store and saw Larry’s name promiently on the label. Later on I would learn just how many songs Larry performed on. He truly was a legend. I can’t begin to imagine how different a number of my favorite recordings would sound if Larry had not added his magic to them. Ask any musician or diehard music fan to name their all time favorite session musicians and I’m certain Larry’s name would come up several times. He added a special touch to any recording he performed on, and obviously touched the lives of the people he worked with at the same time. I never had the pleasure of ever meeting him or speaking to him, however I will always remember the great music I grew up listening to, that he was an important part of.

  18. Bob Levinson Says:

    Another great one gone…Was closest to Larry during what’s easiest cataloged as the Martoni Era, especially his years with Bread and afterward, when he backed David Gates after David went solo…

  19. Tom DeCillis Says:

    I’m always sad to read about the passing of another music talent and especially a musician like Larry. My thoughts and condolences go out to his family and friends at this time.

  20. Mike Melvoin Says:

    My dear friend has left his imprint on our music. Everywhere in the world his sound will be in the hearts of all. The most creative, the most flexible, the most honest, the most beautiful music making, an exact expression of who he was as a person. We sat side by side for years, and even fought over who was going to get the piano in Western 3, both of us having “signed” it with cigarette burns. I am lucky to have been his friend and colleague.

  21. Kent Kotal Says:

    We’ll miss you, Larry. Those of us “in the know” have long recognized your musical contributions over the years. Being a big Bread fan myself, I was thrilled when I heard that you had joined the band. And I had NO idea that you could play as many different instruments as you did! If your ONLY musical contribution was the OUTSTANDING piano on “Bridge Over Troubled Water”, you’d be a legend … but you gave us SO much more music to enjoy and cherish through the years. Thank you for sharing your talents with the rest of the world.

  22. Robert Indart Says:

    It’s always sad to hear about a musicial passing on, but Larry was one of the greats and he will be missed.


  23. Susan Joseph Says:

    Larry played on many of my albums through the years. He was a great talent and fine human being. He will be missed.

  24. Kenny Asher Says:

    I didn’t know Larry but always admired his musicianship. He would have been remembered for “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” and his work with Bread if he had done only that. After going to one of the websites, I have learned much more about his contributions. What a great and versatile career!

    All the best – Kenny Ascher

  25. Jens Says:

    I’m really pleased that Artie mentions Larry’s songwriting ability because very few obituaries have mentioned this.

    He wrote the song “Picture in Your Mind”, an
    outstanding rock ballad which was featured on “The
    Guitar Man”. The track was sung by James Griffin, but it was quite different from the usual Bread repertoire.

    It’s always been a favorite of mine and is still among the 100 undeleteable songs in my mp3 player (having never graduated onto ipods).

    It’s still available so do look it up if you had an interest in the man.

  26. Joe Klein Says:

    I did not know Larry very well and haven’t seen him in decades…..In fact, the last time I saw Larry was when he was playing keyboards at a recording session my little “legendary” recording Studio on Pico Blvd. in L.A. But I remember him, first, as a really nice and unassuming guy, and, secondly, as a really GREAT keyboard player, on par with the best studio musicians I ever knew or worked with. I am sure he will be fondly remembered missed by all who knew him.


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