While largely anonymous to the general public, the beat of a Jim Keltner drum part was anything but unknown to those within the music world, thanks to his six decades of session work during which he amassed an ... Read more »
While largely anonymous to the general public, the beat of a Jim Keltner drum part was anything but unknown to those within the music world, thanks to his six decades of session work during which he amassed an incomparable list of credits. Born James Lee Keltner on April 27, 1942, he credited jazz as his inspiration in becoming a percussionist at an early age. However, as the late 1950s turned to the early '60s, Keltner found himself picking up session work amid the emerging pop/rock movement in Los Angeles, CA. Gary Lewis & the Playboys' single "She's Just My Style" kicked off Keltner's career, which - after a few lean years - went on to include working with an impressive list of stars including Joe Cocker, Carly Simon, Barbra Streisand, Eric Clapton and others. It was Keltner's 1970s association with all the Beatles save Paul McCartney that made his name as one of the era's best-known session musicians. Introduced to the fold through his L.A. work with producer Phil Spector, Keltner played on some of the biggest solo albums by the ex-Beatles, including John Lennon's Imagine (and his wife Yoko Ono's free-jazz-influenced Fly, recorded during the same sessions), George Harrison's Living in the Material World and even drummer Ringo Starr's best-selling solo effort, Ringo. In the years that followed, his resume expanded still more, including appearances on best-selling albums by Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Randy Newman, Bonnie Raitt, and Steely Dan. Keltner served as the drummer for Harrison's 1980s supergroup The Traveling Wilburys and played drums on several tours by Starr's supergroup the All-Starr Band. Despite never becoming a household name, Keltner's breezy but precise style helped define the sound of mainstream rock in the 1970s and '80s. In later years, he recorded with younger artists like Lucinda Williams, John Mayer and Fiona Apple, and appeared in Dave Grohl's documentary about a legendary 1970s Los Angeles studio, "Sound City" (2013).