James Lee Keltner (born April 27, 1942) is an American drummer known primarily for his session work. He was characterized by Bob Dylan biographer Howard Sounes as "the leading session drummer in America".
|Birth name||James Lee Keltner|
|Born||April 27, 1942|
Tulsa, Oklahoma, U.S.
|Genres||Rock, R&B, jazz|
|Associated acts||Traveling Wilburys, Little Village, Eric Clapton, Joe Cocker, Ry Cooder, Delaney & Bonnie, Bob Dylan, Carly Simon, Ringo Starr, Gabor Szabo, George Harrison, John Lennon, Steve Miller Band, Harry Nilsson, Neil Diamond|
Keltner was initially inspired to start playing because of an interest in jazz, but the popularity of jazz was declining during the late 1950s and early 1960s, and it was the explosion of pop/rock in the mid-1960s that enabled him to break into recording work in Los Angeles. His first gig as a session musician was recording "She's Just My Style" for the pop group Gary Lewis and the Playboys.
Keltner's music career was hardly paying a living, and for several years at the outset he was supported by his wife. Toward the end of the 1960s, he finally began getting regular session work and eventually became one of the busiest drummers in Los Angeles. His earliest credited performances on record were with Gabor Szabo on the 1968 album Bacchanal.
In 1968, Keltner was also working in a music shop in Pasadena just down the street from the old “Ice House” coffeehouse when he was recruited to play drums in a "psychedelic" vocal group named "MC Squared" along with Michael Crowley, Michael Clough, Linda Carey, (all from the folk group The Back Porch Majority) and session guitarist/bassist Randy Cierley Sterling. They were signed by Mo Ostin and recorded an album for Warner/Reprise originally titled "MC Squared" which has later been re-mastered and re-released in 2012 with the album title "Tantalizing Colors." They appeared live that same year on the Hugh Hefner / Playboy Magazine television show Playboy After Dark playing two songs: an original by MC Squared members Michael Clough and Michael Crowley titled "I Know You" and a cover version of the Fred Neil song Everybody's Talkin'. Both Playboy After Dark performances with Keltner playing drums can currently be viewed on YouTube.
It was his work with Leon Russell playing on Delaney & Bonnie's Accept No Substitute that attracted the attention of Joe Cocker, who recruited Russell and everyone else he could out of the Delaney & Bonnie band for his Mad Dogs & Englishmen tour. Playing with Joe Cocker led to work in 1970 and 1971, on records by Carly Simon (No Secrets), Barbra Streisand (Barbra Joan Streisand), Booker T. Jones (Booker T. & Priscilla), George Harrison (The Concert for Bangladesh), and John Lennon (Imagine).
Keltner is well known for his session work on solo recordings by three members of the Beatles, working with George Harrison, John Lennon (including Lennon solo albums, as well as albums released both by the Plastic Ono Band and Yoko Ono), and Ringo Starr.
Keltner played on many key former Beatle solo releases, including Harrison's 1973 album Living in the Material World and Lennon's 1974 album Walls and Bridges. When Ringo Starr recorded his first full-fledged pop album, Ringo, Keltner was featured on several tracks. Following this, Keltner joined George Harrison on his 1974 tour of the United States.
In 1974 Keltner played on the Lennon-produced Harry Nilsson album Pussy Cats alongside Ringo (and Keith Moon) on "Rock Around the Clock". Keltner was featured on the Nilsson albums Son of Schmilsson with Harrison, Starr and Beatles associate Klaus Voormann as well as Duit on Mon Dei with Starr and Voormann.
Keltner's relationship with the former Beatles was such that his name was used to parody Paul McCartney on albums released by Harrison and Starr in 1973. Early that year, McCartney, the only Beatle not to have worked with Keltner, included a note on the back cover of his Red Rose Speedway album, encouraging fans to join the "Wings Fun Club" by sending a "stamped addressed envelope" to an address in London. Later that year, both Harrison's Living in the Material World and Starr's Ringo contained a similar note encouraging fans to join the "Jim Keltner Fan Club" by sending a "stamped undressed elephant" to an address in Hollywood.
Keltner played the role of the judge in the video for George Harrison's 1976 Top 30 hit, "This Song".
In 1989, Keltner toured with Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band.
In 1987, Keltner, along with guitarist Ry Cooder and bassist Nick Lowe, played on John Hiatt's Bring the Family. Four years later the four musicians reunited as the band Little Village, recording an eponymous album.
Keltner played drums on both albums released by the 1980s supergroup the Traveling Wilburys, playing under the pseudonym "Buster Sidebury".
List of artists
Keltner, as a freelance drummer, has worked with a long list of artists.
Jim Keltner recorded two albums with his band Attitudes for George Harrison's Dark Horse label. The band also included Danny Kortchmar, David Foster and Paul Stallworth, and recorded Attitudes in 1975 and Good News in 1977.
In 1973, he was the session drummer on Bob Dylan's Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid, which includes the hit "Knockin' on Heaven's Door". He described that session as "a monumental session for me because it was such a touching song, it was the first time I actually cried when I was playing".
Keltner is the drummer on the Steely Dan tune "Josie" (released in 1977). In the DVD "Steely Dan - Classic Albums: Aja", Donald Fagen states that in the bridge of the tune, Keltner overdubbed a 16th note based pattern played on a metal trash can lid.
Keltner appears on Marc Jordan's 1979 album "Blue Desert" on tracks "Twilight" and "Lost in The Hurrah".
Keltner specialized in R&B, and developed a deceptively simple drumming style that melds a casual, loose feel with extraordinary precision. He is said to have influenced Jeff Porcaro and Danny Seraphine of Chicago.
In the mid-1990s, Keltner joined the London Metropolitan Orchestra on its recording of "An American Symphony" on the movie soundtrack for Mr Holland's Opus.
In 1993, he toured with Neil Young and Booker T. & the M.G.'s.
Keltner played on the 1997 Bill Frisell album Gone, Just Like a Train with Viktor Krauss and toured as a member of the trio in support of the album. He also played on the 1999 Frisell album Good Dog, Happy Man and is pictured in the CD leaflet and back cover (Nonesuch 79536-2).
In 2000, Keltner toured with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young on their "Tour of America".
In 2002, he briefly joined Bob Dylan's band during the European gigs while its main drummer, George Receli, recuperated from a hand injury. Later in the year, Keltner played in Concert For George, a tribute to George Harrison a year following his death. Wearing a sweatshirt with a Bob Dylan logo, he reprised his role as the Wilburys' drummer, joining Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne for "Handle with Care." During that project and performance, he worked with Paul McCartney along with other percussionists, including Ringo Starr.
In 2003, he toured with Simon & Garfunkel in their Old Friends tour.
In 2006, he toured with T-Bone Burnett in The True False Identity tour and was featured on Jerry Lee Lewis's album Last Man Standing. He played on Mavis Staples's album We'll Never Turn Back, produced by Ry Cooder.
He also lent his drumming skills to the tracks on Richard Shapero's full-length album entitled Wild Animus: The Ram, recorded the same year.
In 2007, he appeared with Lucinda Williams on West. The album was listed No. 18 on Rolling Stone's list of the Top 50 Albums of 2007. He also played on Phish keyboardist's self titled debut album Page McConnell, released in 2007.
Also in 2008, Keltner participated in the production of the album Psalngs, the debut release of Canadian musician John Lefebvre.
In 2010, Keltner produced Jerry Lee Lewis's Mean Old Man duets CD. He played drums on Fistful of Mercy's debut album, As I Call You Down, which one of the band's members, Dhani Harrison, described in an interview as the first project of his that he felt worthy to bring to Keltner, who was an old family friend (Dhani is the son of George Harrison). Keltner also played on The Union by Leon Russell and Elton John, produced by T-Bone Burnett and released on October 10, 2010. He also appeared on the eponymous Eric Clapton album, on 8 of the 14 tracks.
For the 2012 release, Chimes of Freedom: The Songs of Bob Dylan Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International, Keltner sat in a studio with Outernational covering Dylan's "When the Ship Comes In".
That same year, he recorded with Italian instrumental band Sacri Cuori on their second record, Rosario.
In 2013, Keltner appears on the track "If I Were Me" from Sound City: Real to Reel with Dave Grohl, Jessy Greene and Rami Jaffee. Also, on "Our Love Is Here To Stay", a classic Gershwin jazz standard recorded by Eric Clapton for his album, Old Sock.
In 2016, Keltner recorded drums for Neil Young's thirty-seventh studio album, Peace Trail. In 2016 Keltner also appeared on The Rolling Stone's CD "Blue & Lonesome" playing percussion on "Hoo Doo Blues."
With John Lennon
- Imagine (Apple Records, 1971)
- Mind Games (Apple Records, 1973)
- Walls and Bridges (Apple Records, 1974)
- Rock 'n' Roll (Apple Records, 1975)
With Mick Jagger
With Nerina Pallot
- Fires (Idaho Records, 2005)
With Melissa Etheridge
- Breakdown (Island Records, 1999)
With John Lee Hooker
- Mr. Lucky (Virgin Records, 1991)
With Johnny Rivers
- Home Grown (United Artists Records, 1970)
- Outside Help (Big Tree Records, 1977)
- Not a Through Street (CBS, 1983)
With Marshall Crenshaw
- Jaggedland (429 Records, 2009)
With George Harrison
- Living in the Material World (Apple Records, 1973)
- Dark Horse (Apple Records, 1974)
- Extra Texture (Read All About It) (Apple Records, 1975)
- Somewhere in England (Dark Horse Records, 1981)
- Gone Troppo (Dark Horse Records, 1982)
- Cloud Nine (Dark Horse Records, 1987)
- Brainwashed (Dark Horse Records, 2002)
With Bonnie Raitt
- Takin' My Time (Warner Bros. Records, 1973)
With John Mayer
With Peter Allen
- Taught by Experts (A&M Records, 1976)
With Melissa Manchester
- Don't Cry Out Loud (Arista Records, 1978)
With Joe Cocker
- Joe Cocker (A&M Records, 1972)
- Civilized Man (Capitol Records, 1984)
- Night Calls (Capitol Records, 1991)
- Organic (550 Music, 1996)
- Hymn for My Soul (EMI, 2007)
With Albert King
- Lovejoy (Stax Records, 1971)
With Shawn Colvin
- Cover Girl (Columbia Records, 1994)
With Ringo Starr
- Ringo (Apple Records, 1973)
- Goodnight Vienna (Apple Records, 1974)
- Ringo's Rotogravure (Polydor Records, 1976)
- Stop and Smell the Roses (RCA Records, 1981)
With Linda Ronstadt
- Feels Like Home (Elektra Records, 1995)
With Michelle Branch
- Everything Comes and Goes (Reprise Records, 2010)
With Rickie Lee Jones
- Traffic from Paradise (Geffen, 1993)
With B.B. King
- B.B. King in London (ABC Records, 1971)
- There Is Always One More Time (MCA Records, 1991)
- Deuces Wild (MCA Records, 1997)
- One Kind Favor (Geffen, 2008)
With Dan Fogelberg
- Twin Sons of Different Mothers (Epic Records, 1978)
With Brian Wilson
- No Pier Pressure (Capitol Records, 2015)
With Don Henley
With Warren Zevon
With Marc Cohn
- The Union (Mercury Records, 2010)
With Yoko Ono
- Fly (Apple Records, 1971)
With Jackson Browne
- For Everyman (Asylum Records, 1973)
- Lives in the Balance (Asylum Records, 1986)
- I'm Alive (Elektra Records, 1993)
- Standing in the Breach (Inside Recordings, 2014)
With Aaron Neville
- Warm Your Heart (A&M Records, 1991)
With Maria Muldaur
- Maria Muldaur (Reprise Records, 1973)
With Bill Withers
- Just as I Am (Sussex Records, 1971)
With Roy Orbison
- Mystery Girl (Virgin Records, 1989)
With Van Dyke Parks
With Christine Lakeland
- Reckoning (Virgin Records, 1993)
With Michael Penn
With Adam Cohen
- Adam Cohen (Columbia Records, 1998)
With Boz Scaggs
With Bob Dylan
- Saved (Columbia Records, 1980)
- Shot of Love (Columbia Records, 1981)
- Empire Burlesque (Columbia Records, 1985)
- Time Out of Mind (Columbia Records, 1997)
With Jann Arden
With Tom Petty
- Full Moon Fever (MCA Records, 1989)
With Sam Phillips
- Omnipop (It's Only a Flesh Wound Lambchop) (Virgin Records, 1996)
- Fan Dance (Nonesuch Records, 2001)
- A Boot and a Shoe (Nonesuch Records, 2004)
With Fiona Apple
- When the Pawn... (Epic Records, 1999)
With Neil Finn
- One Nil (Parlophone Records, 2001)
With Carly Simon
- No Secrets (Elektra Records, 1972)
- Hotcakes (Elektra Records, 1974)
- Another Passenger (Elektra Records, 1976)
- Christmas Is Almost Here (Rhino Records, 2002)
- Christmas Is Almost Here Again (Rhino Records, 2003)
With Ryan Adams
- Gold (Lost Highway Records, 2001)
With Vonda Shepard
- The Radical Light (Reprise Records, 1992)
- Trio II (Asylum Records, 1999)
With Rufus Wainwright
With Matraca Berg
- The Speed of Grace (MCA Records, 1994)
With Aimee Mann
- Whatever (Geffen, 1993)
With Neil Diamond
With Randy Newman
- Sail Away (Reprise Records, 1972)
- Good Old Boys (Reprise Records, 1974)
- Little Criminals (Reprise Records, 1977)
With Joni Mitchell
- Turbulent Indigo (Reprise Records, 1994)
With José Feliciano
- And the Feeling's Good (RCA Victor, 1974)
- For My Love... Mother Music (RCA Victor, 1974)
With Eric Clapton
- Journeyman (Reprise Records, 1989)
- From the Cradle (Warner Bros. Records, 1994)
- Me and Mr. Johnson (Reprise Records, 2004)
- Clapton (Reprise Records, 2010)
- Old Sock (Polydor Records, 2013)
- Happy Xmas (Polydor Records, 2018)
With Sara Bareilles
- Amidst the Chaos (Epic Records, 2019)
With Ry Cooder
- Boomer's Story (Reprise Records, 1972)
- Paradise and Lunch (Reprise Records, 1974)
- Chicken Skin Music (Reprise Records, 1976)
- Bop till You Drop (Warner Bros. Records, 1979)
- Borderline (Warner Bros. Records, 1980)
- The Slide Area (Warner Bros. Records, 1982)
- Chávez Ravine (Nonesuch Records, 2005)
- My Name Is Buddy (Nonesuch Records, 2007)
- I, Flathead (Nonesuch Records, 2008)
- Pull Up Some Dust and Sit Down (Nonesuch Records, 2011)
- Stars (Warner Bros. Records, 1975)
With Leon Russell
- Leon Russell and the Shelter People (Shelter Records, 1971)
- Carney (Shelter Records, 1972)
- Stop All That Jazz (Shelter Records, 1974)
- Will O' the Wisp (Shelter Records, 1975)
With Leonard Cohen
- Death of a Ladies' Man (Warner Bros. Records, 1977)
With Ivan Neville
- If My Ancestors Could See Me Now (Polydor Records, 1988)
With Toni Childs
- House of Hope (A&M Records, 1991)
With Martha Reeves
- Martha Reeves (MCA Records, 1974)
With Sheryl Crow
- Sheryl Crow (A&M Records, 1996)
With Frankie Valli
- Closeup (Private Stock Records, 1975)
With David Crosby
With Bette Midler
With Maria McKee
With Rod Stewart
- Vagabond Heart (Warner Bros. Records, 1991)
With Rita Coolidge
- Rita Coolidge (A&M Records, 1971)
- The Lady's Not for Sale (A&M Records, 1972)
- Satisfied (A&M Records, 1979)
With Thelma Houston
- I've Got the Music in Me (Sheffeld Lab, 1975)
With Harry Nilsson
- Nilsson Schmilsson (RCA Victor, 1971)
- Pussy Cats (RCA Victor, 1974)
- Duit on Mon Dei (RCA Victor, 1975)
- Sandman (RCA Victor, 1976)
- ...That's the Way It Is (RCA Victor, 1976)
- Flash Harry (Mercury Records, 1980)
With Michael Bublé
With Roberta Flack
- I'm the One (Atlantic Records, 1982)
With Rodney Crowell
- Ain't Living Long Like This (Warner Bros. Records, 1978)
With Barbra Streisand
- Barbra Joan Streisand (Columbia Records, 1971)
With Irene Cara
- Carasmatic (Elektra Records, 1987)
With Ronnie Wood
- Gimme Some Neck (Columbia Records, 1979)
- 1234 (Columbia Records, 1981)
- I Feel Like Playing (Eagle Rock Entertainment, 2010)
- Born to Love (Capitol Records, 1983)
With Art Garfunkel
- Breakaway (Columbia Records, 1975)
With Elvis Costello
With J. J. Cale
- Shades (Island Records, 1981)
- 8 (Mercury Records, 1983)
- Travel-Log (BMG, 1990)
- Closer to You (Virgin Records, 1994)
With James Taylor
With Yvonne Elliman
- Night Flight (RSO Records, 1978)
- Yvonne (RSO Records, 1979)
With Dolly Parton
- Here You Come Again (RCA Records, 1977)
- Great Balls of Fire (RCA Records, 1979)
- Rainbow (Mercury Records, 1987)
With Carole Bayer Sager
- Sometimes Late at Night (The Broadwark Entertainment, 1981)
- Howard Sounes. Down the Highway: The Life of Bob Dylan Doubleday. 2001 p329. ISBN 0-552-99929-6
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- Christy. "MC Squared (MC2) - Psychedelicized".
- "Tantalizing Colours: The Reprise Recordings - MC Squared - Credits". AllMusic.
- "The Beatles The Jim Keltner Fan Club UK Promo memorabilia". eil.com. Retrieved January 14, 2014.
- "The Jim Keltner Fan Club". Blogcritics. August 29, 2010. Retrieved January 14, 2014.
- "Jim Keltner on Knockin' on Heaven's Door". Archived from the original on December 29, 2012. Retrieved December 7, 2009.
- Makin' Music (MCAD-22125 ed.). Universal City, CA: MCA Records, Inc. 1979.
- Brian Wilson I Just Wasn't Made For These Times, MCA Records, Inc., Universal City, CA, 1995
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on May 7, 2017. Retrieved September 27, 2017.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Psalngs.com". Press.Psalngs.com. Retrieved January 14, 2014.
- "John Mayer, 'Born and Raised': Track-By-Track Review". Billboard. May 22, 2012. Retrieved January 13, 2014.
- Hargreaves, Keith (April 27, 2017). "Conor Oberst "Salutations" (Nonesuch Records, 2017)".
- Maiuri, Ken (March 3, 2019). "Ken Maiuri's Clubland: Guitarist Mike Baggetta records and debuts a new album". Daily Hampshire Gazette. Retrieved March 18, 2019.