January 10, 2015 – Tim Drummond was born on April 20, 1940 in Canton Illinois. Journeyman bassist Tim Drummond, who performed with Neil Young, Crosby, Stills and Nash and Bob Dylan among many more rock legends, passed away January 10th, 2015 the St. Louis County, Missouri coroner’s office confirmed to Rolling Stone. No cause of death was given but investigators revealed there was no trauma.
In his early years Drummond performed and recorded with country and R&B stars in the 1960s in South Carolina, Illinois and, later in the decade, Cincinnati, Ohio. He played rockabilly with Conway Twitty, funk with James Brown and vintage R&B with Hank Ballard before moving to Nashville where he played on sessions with Joe Simon, Fenton Robinson, Jimmy Buffett and Charlie Daniels, among others.
When Neil Young traveled to Nashville to work on his brilliant Harvest album, Drummond visited the studio and became a member of the Stray Gators with the drummer Kenny Buttery and pedal steel guitarist Ben Keith. Drummond would continue to record and tour with Young on albums and concerts that did not involve his primary backing band Crazy Horse. He also toured with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young as well as record and tour with CSN and the duo of Crosby and Nash. He contributed to every studio LP the singer-songwriter released from 1974’s On the Beach to 1980’s Hawks & Doves. Drummond was also a member of Young’s short-lived backup bands the Shocking Pinks, the Stray Gators and the International Harvesters. After reuniting with the Harvest crew for 1992’s Harvest Moon, Drummond’s two-decade-long tenure with Young ended with the rocker’s 1993 MTV Unplugged performance.
Moving to California led to Drummond becoming one of the most in-demand session bassists, often paired with drummer Jim Keltner (Tim and Jim in the engine room). Together they were the rhythm section on CSNY’s 1974 tour, during which time Drummond met Dylan. He would later join his band during during Dylan’s Christian gospel phase, co-writing “Saved.” Drummond also appears on multiple albums by J.J. Cale, Ry Cooder and Graham Nash, and played on hit records by Don Henley, Bette Midler, Paula Abdul and Jewel.
Drummond co-wrote songs with many of the artists he worked with, including: “Saved” (Bob Dylan), “Who’s Talking” (J.J. Cale), “Saddle Up The Palomino” (Neil Young), and “Down In Hollywood” (Ry Cooder). He is credited as the sole writer of “I Want to Lay Down Beside You” on the 1972 album Tracy Nelson/Mother Earth.
Drummond’s credits run deep and diverse and include the Beach Boys’ 16 Big Ones, Don Henley’s Building the Perfect Beast, a trio of Ry Cooder albums and Jewel’s Pieces of You. The bassist performed alongside legends Miles Davis, John Lee Hooker and Taj Mahal on Jack Nitzsche’s score for the 1990 film The Hot Spot and collaborated with the likes of James Brown, Lonnie Mack, Rick Danko, J.J. Cale and John Mayall through the years.
“I can’t praise Dylan enough. He’s not only a dear friend, but he was just great,” Drummond told Rolling Stone about touring Slow Train Coming. “At that time I was semi-bandleader, and I kept telling the band, ‘Watch Dylan’s right heel when he’s stomping. Don’t tap your toe, watch your heel. That’s where the beat is.’ And that’s exactly right. It’s the heel that counts. If you tap your toe, you’d be off.”
Drummond also joined Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young on the road during the band’s infamous 1974 “doom tour” and performed on CSN’s 1977 single “Just a Song Before I Go.” “He played us all the songs from Blood on the Tracks on acoustic guitar,” he said. “We were on twin beds, across from each other. Oh God, I can’t tell you how great it was. At one point Stephen Stills said something to him about the songs not being good. I was so goddamn embarrassed. He was probably coked out. Dylan, being the arrogant man that he was said, ‘Well, Stephen, play me one of your songs.’ That was the end of it. Stephen couldn’t even find one string from another at that point.”
He also recalled what the tour was like onstage. “The guitar duels between Stephen and Neil got really loud,” Drummond said. “I’d just wander between the amplifiers and do my thing so I could hear myself. I was lucky I made it through that tour without ruining my ears.”
Tim Drummond died Jan. 10, 2015 in St. Louis County, Missouri. He was 74. His death comes just three months after Rick Rosas, who played bass alongside Neil Young for nearly 25 years and was known as “Rick the Bass Player,” and passed away at the age of 65 following a battle with cancer.