Most Respected Session Musicians?

To late to edit: should read GOOD slide player above, not goof :smack::D.

Kenny Aronoff deserves an honorable mention for his prolific drumming.

Also Jim Keltner.

He shared Grammy honors with Ali Farka Toure on their album Talking Timbuktu.

Tower of Power

Backed up everybody from Otis Redding to Aerosmith.

And they put out their own stuff too:

I love this post. Great names.

James Burton: king of the Tele. Invented Chicken Pickin. A gunslinger of the highest order. Do *not *fuck with James Burton in a cutting contest.

Clarence White: Marty Stuart famously owns White’s Tele with the B-Bender built into it. CW wanted to mimic the glassy bends you get on a pedal steel, so he and Bernie Parsons routed a huge fucking hole in the back of a Tele and mounted a lever-pully system attached to the B (second highest) string and the strap peg on the guitar. When you lean on the strap peg, you get a pedal steel bend. Very cool, very country guitar geeky inside baseball type of stuff. Google Parsons-White B Bender if you want to see them.

His 1935 Martin D-28, which he played his amazing bluegrass and flatpicking work on, is famously owned by national treasure flatpicker Tony Rice. The guitar is known for having an enlarged soundhole done as part of a repair. It also has a funky neck that is affected nt the weather a lot. Apparently White and Rice are the only ones who get the guitar and made it sing.

Sly and Robbie: on, hell yes. Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare as essential. I wore the grooves off Grace Jones’ Nightclubbing album because of their work on it. Their version of Bill Withers’ Use Me is a master class in badass.

Ry Cooder: in addition to all that, it was watching him play slide that got Duane Allman to really focus on slide for his lead voice. And Ry was working with the Stones when Mick noticed he was playing in a different tuning and had him show it to Keith. From Honky Tonk Woman on, Keith now plays in Open G tuning a majority of the time on his 5 string Teles.

If you want a bit of guitar geekery on Ry, Google Coodercaster. He took an old Strat routed the heck out of it, and installed a “gold foil” pickup at the neck* and a Supro lap steel pickup at the bridge. His slide tones are so glassy that fanboys try to replicate the tone and guitar.

*gold foils are the low-output single coils you find on the old cheap Teiscos and Kay guitars. They were built by the tens of thousands. Most were crap, but a good one, in a good guitar and through a good amp can sound three dimensional and glassy. Cooder’s and others use of them are leading to a huge fad in gold foils on guitar message boards right now. From p-90’s to TV Jones Filtertrons, to gold foils - there’s always something.

ETA: hmm, guess I was in the mood to geek out a bit given all the fun IMHO guitar stuff related to these players. Hope that’s okay.

It’s more than okay, WordMan; it’s welcome.

I’ve loved those guitars since the 80’s. Don’t tell anyone, but the silver and black foil pickups sound exactly the same as the gold foil ones.

Wow! Thanks to all. I had no idea there would be so many.

First, thanks for all the geekery, that’s what I always love in your posts, it gives so much insight for the non-musician musical geek. Of course I knew about White’s/Parsons’ B-Bender, but allow me one nitpick: it’s *Gene *Parsons, you must’ve confused his name with Bernie Leadon’s. But the LA country rock scene was such an incestuous bunch, that can happen (though GENE Parsons had no family connections to GRAM).

And just to prove the genius of Clarence White, here’s my favorite country rock song, with Clarence on guitar and Gene Parsons on banjo, a forgotten single from 1968:

The Everly Brothers - I’m On My Way Home Again

(I guess he does some of this bending here? Please Wordman, educate me) :).

EHund - argh, yes, Gene Parsons!! :smack:

I don’t hear the Bender on that track - some sublime harmonies, great banjo and chicken pickin Tele, but no strings ended.

Applying the same standard to “session player,” I’ll enter Ry’s close friend and long-time collborator David Lindley. Who can be googled to spare me from typing for a half hour. Mr. Dave is a living national treasure. And 4th cousin to Linda Rondstat, a connection they discovered while he was touring with her in her band.

Another great who has played with everybody (and was Clapton’s bassist of choice for many years) is Nathan East. Another resume worth googling. His older brother was one of my closest friends from 1962 through about 1972. Not that it matters to anyone but me.

I’m not the one to answer the OP’s question, but I am glad Wordman and I are on the same page here.

I was going to start a thread about Lukathor because of an incident with my wife the other month…

*Lionel Richie’s “Running With the Night” is on the radio. Wife reaches for the dial… *
“No, don’t.”
“Really? You like this?”
“Yeah. But even more important, it has incredible guitar work at the end, really elevates the piece. Completely unexpected, especially in a Lionel Richie song.”

Got home, looked it up, and Holy Shiite, this guy has thousands of credits! Had the thought “I should start a discussion, get some suggestions as to his best work”, but never got around to it.

So, uh, yeah: Steve Lukathor. :smiley:

Bobby Keys

It’s stuff like this that makes me feel bad when I play the bass with rolled off treble and a wad of felt jammed under the strings at the bridge…I have no finesse whatsoever.

Another neat thing about Lukather is how young he was when he started. He was doing studio and session work (for Boz Scaggs, among others) as a teenager, and he and his high school friends founded Toto when he was 18 or 19 (Toto’s first album came out in '78, just as Lukather was turning 21).

So true.

A good friend of mine was a session musician for many years. He’s not particularly famous (no Wikipedia page), but he played on a lot of well known albums. And plenty not-so-well known. He worked at the studio for about 20 years. But then business models changed and the studio laid off all of them. He still plays a few freelance gigs (he has an amazing list of contacts) and does some sound engineering and rentals to make ends meet.

Jim Gordon, at least until he murdered his mother.

Respect turned to sadness and pity after that.

And Steve Gadd’s clone.

(very obscure reference)

I came in here to mention Steve Gadd, since nobody else has.

Also, Lee Ritenour and Larry Carlton.