When a Japanese record label approached Danny Kortchmar to make an album consisting of new and old songs, the guitarist figured he should enlist the help of other veterans. One of them is Waddy Wachtel, and together with Steve Postell, Russ Kunkel, and Leland Sklar, the five men formed The Immediate Family. The group will release a self-titled album featuring twelve original rock songs and two bonus tracks on August 27, 2021. As we await the album, you can learn how Wachtel became a skilled guitarist from the facts below.
1. A Documentary about Him is Long Overdue
In 2008, Gary Simson and Thomas Raboin met and decided they would collaborate in making a documentary about Wachtel. However, by 2010, Simson’s interest in selling and distributing the film wavered, and he only wanted to be accountable for production and directing. With time, the film expenditure increased, and while Raboin hoped to raise a million dollars, he was only able to raise half the amount. In 2013, Simson went on Kickstarter to raise money for the documentary “King of The Sidemen.” According to Hollywood Reporter, he got 295 backers, yet he had already abandoned the project.
2. He Learned about the Guitar When He was Four
Wachtel remembers so vividly the first time he laid his eyes on a guitar. At the time, he was only four years old watching television when a guy was playing a big, old white jazz guitar. The instrument captivated the young boy so much that he had to ask his mother what the guy was holding. His mother enlightened Wachtel that it was a guitar, and immediately he responded that he wanted to play the guitar like that guy.
3. His Father Was Against Him Playing the Guitar
When Wachtel told his mother he wanted to play the guitar, nothing could change his mind. Not even his father, who was on his case telling him that being a guitarist should be a fallback plan. His father wanted Wachtel to have a formal profession, so he insisted on the young boy concentrating on his studies. For five years, the two went back and forth on what was suitable for Wachtel, and finally, his father compromised. When Wachtel was nine years old, he began guitar lessons from Gene Dell.
4. He Lost Interest in Playing the Guitar for a Year
He may be known as one of the best guitarists, but there was a time he could not bring himself to play. You would think that for someone who was constantly fighting with his father about becoming a guitarist, he would not have given it up for anything. Yet, he kept studying it for five years until he was 14, and the interest disappeared. Maybe the raging hormones of adolescence finally kicked in, but we are glad he found the spark again.
5. He Learned to Play Right-handed Guitar
Wachtel is left-handed, so naturally, when he picked the guitar, he wanted to play left-handed. However, as he told Waddy Wachtel Info, his teacher, Dell, would not have it. Although Dell too was left-handed, he insisted on Wachtel learning to play the conventional way. From scales, chords, theory, and much more, the young boy learned all he could about playing the instrument. However, he mostly learned to play by ear, and the teacher always complained that Wachtel was cheating because he did not have to read.
6. He Got His First Guitar at Nine Years Old
After finally convincing his father to allow him to become a guitarist, Wachtel got his first guitar. He revealed it was a Kamico, and they had to part with $24, making it one of his prized possessions. Before then, his parents had tried tricking him into becoming interested in other instruments. However, the observant boy noticed the ukulele had four strings while the guitar he saw on television had six.
7. His Mother Died from Lung Cancer
When Wachtel was six, his mother succumbed to lung cancer, and the young boy was left with his father, Harry, and brother, Jimmy. With him being so young when his mum passed away, Wachtel did not understand what was going on, and it affected his school life. He confessed that for at least two years, he was like a science project. Later on, when Wachtel was 16, his father remarried, but the relationship did not last long, so he still lacked a mother figure.
8. He Was a Truant
Wachtel said that while his brother continued being a model son, he was the troubled kid. He went to Newtown High School, which he remarked was the toughest in the city. It was so bad attending school with hoodlums that Wachtel avoided school; therefore, even when he had his tonsils removed, he extended the two-week stay to five weeks. Due to cutting school so much, he transferred to another school for students who did not fit in with regular school. However, even while at Quintano’s School for Young Professionals, Wachtel could not break the habit of truancy.
9. He Couldn’t Get into Music School
After graduating from high school, Wachtel tried getting into music colleges, but none of them would have him because he couldn’t pass the dictation in which he was supposed to write the music as it played. Luckily, he remembered a childhood neighbor, Rudolph Schramm, who had tried getting Wachtel to play the piano. With nowhere else to turn yet, the passion for learning music was so intense, Wachtel went back home searching for Schramm, who agreed to help him by giving three lessons weekly.
10. He Became Obsessed with the J-200 Guitar upon Seeing It
Wachtel told Guitar International that the first time he ever saw the J-200 was on Bob Dylan’s “Nashville Skyline” album cover. When he visited Studio Instrument Rentals and saw the same guitar, he told them he had to have it. They, however, refused, saying they offered rental services only about Wachtel insisted and bought the instrument.