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Julius Wechter

Julius Wechter's Baja Marimba Band was, in his own words, “... 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 grew up in Hollywood, and can be seen as a teenager in bit parts in a number of films from the late 1940s and early 1950s. He learned the vibraphone and played around the fringes of the West Coast jazz scene, recording an album under his own name in 1956.

For exotica fans, his fame began when he joined Martin Denny's combo in Hawaii. Wechter played vibes and many unusual percussion instruments on Denny's recordings, starting with “Exotica” in 1958, through “In Person” in 1962.

He then returned to Hollywood and worked as a session musician, recording with Sonny and Cher, the Beach Boys, and Phil Spector. One of his earliest session calls was 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.

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