Jim Keltner

Jim Keltner is one of a group of session musicians who achieved near super-stardom at the start of the 1970s, amid the explosion of recording work by the ex-members of the Beatles -- along with Leon Russell, Klaus Voorman, Billy Preston, Jim Gordon, and Bobby Whitlock, to name just a few, his name became closely associated with that first flash of post-Beatles creativity by John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. But he was already one of the busiest drummers working in Los Angeles, and his playing -- even discounting the records by the former Beatles at the time and since -- was heard on some of the most popular records of the era, by everyone from Eric Clapton to Carly Simon to Barbra Steisand. Keltner was born in Tulsa, OK in 1942, and was initially inspired to start playing because of an interest in jazz. But the popularity of jazz was in retreat when he came of age during the late '50s and early '60s, and it was the explosion of pop/rock in the mid-'60s that enabled him to break into recording work in Los Angeles. He first began to attract attention in the music world for his work on the records of Gary Lewis & the Playboys. As far as the public knew, Gary Lewis himself played the drums on his records, but the arranger and leader on the Gary Lewis recordings was Oklahoma-born multi-instrumentalist Leon Russell, who brought in session musicians to augment (and often supplant) the work of Lewis and his band on the records, especially the singles. Keltner's earliest recording session was on "She's Just My Style," and he was soon an integral part of the group's sound, along with another Oklahoma-born transplant to Los Angeles, bassist Carl Radle. Despite these recording sessions and other work associated with Lewis' group, 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 '60s, he finally began getting regular session work, and eventually became one of the busier drummers in Los Angeles.

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