Larry Knechtel

Knechtel won a Grammy for his work on "Bridge Over Troubled Water." (Los Angeles Times)

Larry Knechtel, a member of the 1970s soft-rock group Bread, who had a wide-ranging career as a studio musician, has died.

Knechtel died Thursday at Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital in Yakima, Wash. He was 69. A hospital official would not release a cause of death, but a report in the Yakima Herald-Republic said he apparently suffered a heart attack.

Knechtel played keyboards, bass guitar and harmonica as a member of the Wrecking Crew, a group of Los Angeles studio musicians that included future headliners Glen Campbell and Leon Russell and session drummer Hal Blaine. Knechtel played with Elvis Presley, the Beach Boys, the Byrds, the Mamas and the Papas and many others.

"It just snowballed. I was in the right place at the right time," Knechtel told the Yakima paper in 2004. "It was a lot of fun. We were all young. I was making big money and hearing myself on the radio."

In 2007, members of the Wrecking Crew were inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame in Nashville.

Knechtel, who was born Aug. 4, 1940, in Bell, first played with Kip Tyler and the Flips and in 1959 joined Duane Eddy, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame guitarist. He won a Grammy in 1970 for his arrangement of "Bridge Over Troubled Water" by Simon and Garfunkel. Knechtel also played the piano on that song.

In 1971, he joined Bread after the group's second album, when Robb Royer left.

"We needed somebody to play bass and keyboards and provide a strong instrumental element that we had been lacking," singer David Gates told The Times in 1977. "Larry was just what we needed."

Knechtel played on the Dixie Chicks' "Taking the Long Way" album and toured with the group in 2006. He had been living in Yakima since 2003.

According to the Herald-Republic, Knechtel is survived by his wife, Vickie; son Lonnie and daughter Shelli Kokenge; his mother, Edna Knechtel; brothers Don and Bob Knechtel; and three grandchildren.

keith.thursby@latimes.com