Dennis Budimir

Dennis Budimir

Renowned studio guitarist Dennis Budimir died in Los Angeles on January 10. He was 84.

Early in his career, Budimir’s path to jazz stardom began when he started working with progressive artists such as Bud Shank and Eric Dolphy, until he was drafted by the U.S. Army.

After being discharged in 1963, Budimir (VG, November ’12) entered the lucrative world of studio work and was an early member of Hollywood’s famed Wrecking Crew. He earned four consecutive National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences awards as well as a special citation for lifetime achievement – the Emeritus Award for Outstanding Past Performance. A short list of artists who employed Budimir’s talent includes Rod Stewart, Linda Ronstadt, Randy Newman, Ravi Shankar, Frank Zappa, John Lennon, Harry Nilsson, Quincy Jones, Frank Sinatra, Warren Zevon, Brian Wilson, Dizzy Gillespie, and Joni Mitchell.

Long after Budimir was established in the studios, his jazz artistry was endorsed by his winning the 1971 Down Beat magazine critics’ poll. Many believe that while Budimir was a musical recluse, the award confirmed that he personified the generational bridge between the old guard and the avant garde.

Guitarist Joe Diorio called Budimir, “a mystery man,” while jazz great Larry Coryell added, “I first heard Dennis on a Bud Shank record called New Groove and immediately loved his playing because it was different and introspective with ideas outside the accepted tonality.”
In a 1972 interview, Al Hendrickson, former king of session guitarists who began his career in 1938, cited Budimir as someone who could do it all. “He can sight-read, cover rock, jazz, jingles, and film scores with flair and creativity. He’s the new guy.”

Studio stalwart Tommy Tedesco added, “Dennis Budimir? A giant. When you want to talk about playing, call Dennis and just leave everybody else’s name out.”

This article originally appeared in VG’s February 2023 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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