One could call session drummer Jim Keltner the fifth ex-Beatles Beatle: he drummed for John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, for all three in the studio and live on stage. He was in Lennon’s circle during the famous “lost weekend”, and partnered Ringo behind drums during Harrison’s Concert for Bangladesh.
Keltner might be best remembered for his association with three Beatles, but the list of artists with whom he has played is staggering. Apart from the artists featured on this mix and the second volume, those he drummed for on record include:
like Joe Cocker, James Taylor, Seals & Croft, Carl Tjader, Bonnie & Delaney, Leon Russell, Freddie King, Boots Randolph, Yoko Ono, Sergio Mendes, Don Everley, Earl Scruggs, Donovan, Andy Williams, Van Dyke Parks, Frankie Valli, Dion, Keith Moon, The Steve Miller Band, Bonnie Raitt, Arlo Guthrie, Rick Springfield, Shankar Family, José Feliciano, Harry Chapin, Chuck Girard, Bette Middler, Mr Big, Ian McLagan, Neil Diamind, Bill Wyman, Maria Muldaur, Geoff Muldaur, Chi Coltrane, Lowell George, Carol Bayer Sager, Leonard Cohen, Eric Clapton, Ron Wood, Jimmy Cliff, Melissa Manchester, Lalo Schifrin, Alice Cooper, Rickie Lee Jones, Manhattan Transfer, Roberta Flack, Leo Kottke, Captain Beefheart, Rod Stewart, Don Henley, Irene Cara, Duane Eddy, Maria McKee, Tom Petty, Elvis Costello, T-Bone Burnett, JD Souther, Aaron Neville, Gillian Welch, Richard Thompson, Johnny Winter, Toto, Toni Childs, Marc Cohn, Lionel Richie, Nick Lowe, Aimee Mann, Mick Jagger, The Waterboys, Joni Mitchell, Willie Nelson, Al Stewart, Linda Ronstadt, Sheryl Crow, The Rolling Stones, John Lee Hooker, Chris Isaak, Buddy Guy, Traveling Wilburys, Jack Bruce, Crosby Still, Nash & Young, Rufus Wainwright, Boz Scaggs, Dan Fogelberg, Jerry Lee Lewis, Pink Floyd, Matthew Sweet, Ray Charles, Melissa Etheridge, The Charlatans, Lucinda Williams, The Pretenders, Fiona Apple, Ryan Adams, Robbie Robertson, Dhani Harrison, Sean Lennon, Cassandra Wilson, She & Him, Joseph Arthur, Michael Bublé, Lyle Lovett, Mavis Staples, Alexi Murdoch, John Mayer…
And that list isn’t even complete.
He played on classics such as Nilsson’s Without You and Ringo Starr’s Photograph, though he didn’t play on Bill Withers’ Ain’t No Sunshine, as some people say. According to the man himself, he observed Al Jackson play drums on that song; Keltner did play on Better Off Dead, a song with just about the most devastating end to an album.
Keltner appeared on many albums which also featured past Collection subject Jim Gordon, and a few which also included work by Hal Blaine or Bernard Purdie (for links take a look at the end of this post).
On several records he played alongside saxophone session man Bobby Keys (another close Lost Weekend Lennon friend), who died last December, and who is the only non-drumming session man so far to have had a mix in this series. Of the tracks featured here, he and Keys play together on two: on BB King’s Ain’t Nobody Home and on Nilsson’s version of Many Rivers To Cross (arranged by John Lennon and with Ringo Starr co-drumming). On the Keys collection, Keltner also appeared on Carly Simon’s Night Owl and Martha Reeves’ Storm In My Soul (Keltner also drums on Reeves’ version of Dixie Highway on the Any Major Roads mix).
Jim Keltner and John Lennon in 1974
Jim Keltner was born in 1942 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His early interest was in jazz, and although his first outing as a session man was backing a pop group (Gary Lewis and the Playboys on She’s Just My Style), most of his early credited work was for jazz artists like Gabor Szabo and Cal Tjader.
It was his involvement with Delaney & Bonnie and Leon Russell that broke him in the world of rock. First Joe Cocker, always astute in appointing session players, engaged him. Very soon almost everybody else did, from Booker T Jones to Carly Simon to BB King to Barbra Streisand — the latter for her version of Lennon’s Mother.
While Keltner had played on several covers of Lennon’s Beatles songs, he didn’t drum for Lennon until the Imagine LP in 1971 (on Jealous Guy and I Don’t Wanna Be A Soldier). On Lennon’s next three albums of original material (Mind Games, Some Time In New York and Walls And Bridges), Keltner did all the drumming duties, as he did on several Yoko Ono outings. He also played drums in the 1975 New York concert which was released a few years after Lennon’s death.
As always, CD-R length, covers, PW in comments.
1. John Lennon – #9 Dream (1975)
2. Art Garfunkel – Break Away (1975)
3. Jackson Browne – Ready Or Not (1973)
4. Rita Coolidge – That Man Is My Weakness (1971)
5. Bobby Womack – Superstar (1975)
6. Bob Dylan – Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door (1973)
7. Harry Nilsson – Many Rivers To Cross (1974)
8. Dave Mason – If You’ve Got Love (1973)
9. Jim Price – You Got The Power (1971)
10. Carly Simon – Waited So Long (1972)
11. Randy Newman – Short People (1977)
12. Steely Dan – Josie (1977)
13. Roger Tillison – Old Cracked Lookin Glass (1971)
14. BB King – Ain’t Nobody Home (1971)
15. Bobby Lester – Freedom (1972)
16. Bill Withers – Better Off Dead (1971)
17. Claudia Lennear – Goin’ Down (1973)
18. Hoyt Axton – Good Lookin’ Child (1974)
19. Ringo Starr – Goodnight Vienna (1974)
20. George Harrison – Try Some Buy Some (1973)
21. Warren Zevon – Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead (1991)
22. Roy Orbison – She’s A Mystery To Me (1989)
Previous session musicians’ collection:
The Bernard Purdie Collection Vol. 1
The Bernard Purdie Collection Vol. 2
The Ricky Lawson Collection Vol. 1
The Ricky Lawson Collection Vol. 2
The Jim Gordon Collection Vol. 1
The Jim Gordon Collection Vol. 2
The Hal Blaine Collection Vol. 1
The Hal Blaine Collection Vol. 2
The Bobby Keys Collection
The Bobby Graham Collection