Ed Carter

Written By: Stomp

Ed CarterIn the early ’60s, there was a surf and rhythm and blues band known as The Shufflers on the southern California scene which featured a rhythm section as crisp as the cusp of a wave caught at sunrise. The versatile Bruce Johnston played keyboards as well as guitar in the band, a fellow named Ed Carter handled both bass and guitar and the young Mike Kowalski sat at the drums, although he could actually play every instrument on the bandstand. In 1965, Johnston was hired by the The Beach Boys, at that point developing into one of the top touring and recording acts on the rock circuit, to replace resident genius Brian Wilson, who was beginning to freak out on tour. Three years later, Carter and Kowalski also became part of Beach Boys backing band, meaning they were now card-carrying members of a sun-speckled, surf-splashed session musician clique that also included players such as Daryl Dragon and John Cowsill. Whether this also meant they were surfboard carrying people is another question, as the actual surfing ability of musicians associated with this type of music was usually kept secret, in case one of them actually was inept. Many of these players later formed an aggregation known as the The Legendary Masked Surfers.

The music of the Beach Boys evolved from white-washed Chuck Berry influences to some of the most complex pop music created, and the skills of players such as Carter cannot be considered irrelevant to this development. His own work on various recording sessions, beginning in earnest around the time he joined the Beach Boys, reveals a wide range of musical interests and talents. He was part of the subtle, understated rhythm section on several Nick Drake recording sessions, got involved with the Beachboys’ Mike Love in some unusual, if strained, collaborations with progressive jazz saxophonist and bandleader Charles Lloyd, helped make the debut solo effort of Cass Elliot instrumentally robust and pitched in on solo efforts from various Beachboys. These include the Dennis Wilson Pacific Ocean Blue album and a live recording with Al Jardine. Besides continuing to work with the Beachboys in the ’90s and beyond, Carter continues to get studio calls from leaders based in Los Angeles such as trumpeter and composer Mark Isham. ~ Eugene Chadbourne, All Music Guide