Wednesday, July 28, 2010

BEN KEITH, 1937-2010

This picture of Ben Keith is from the great Neil Young fansite, Thrasher's Wheat. Keith just passed away the other day. Yo umay not know his name, but you probably know his contributions to Neil Young's music. 

Keith was a Nashville session musician, mainly a steel guitarist. He played with Pasty Cline on her classic song "I Fall To Pieces." But he first worked with Neil on his Harvest album from 1972, and that led to a decades-long relationship. He played with Neil on the follow-up album recorded live in concert, 1973's Time Fades Away (a great album which has been criminally out of print for decades). In 1974, he played on On The Beach, not just playing steel guitar, but dobro, slide guitar, electric piano, organ, "hand drums" and bass. 1975's Tonight's The Night (recorded in 1973) is one of the few Crazy Horse albums that Ben is on.1977's American Stars 'n' Bars was recorded over sessions from 1974-1977, many featuring Keith (including some more collabs with Crazy Horse).  Ben was also on 1977's Comes A Time, 1980's Hawks and Doves, 1982's Trans, 1983's Everybody's Rockin' (he played sax and lead guitar), 1983's Old Ways, 1988's This Note's For You (again on sax), 1989's Freedom (on steel guitar, sax and keyboards), 1992's Harvest Moon, 2000's Silver and Gold, 2005's Prairie Wind, 2007's Chrome Dreams II, and 2009's Fork In The Road. He wasn't on the Greendale album, but appeared in the accompanying film as "Grandpa."

Ben Keith was Neil's most constant collaborator through his career, and contributed to some of his greatest moments.  Hopefully he's having a great jam session in heaven now . Rest In Peace, Ben Keith.

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