Published Jul 27, 2010Ben Keith, a mutli-instrumentalist who was Neil Young's sideman for almost 40 years, has died at the age of 73. The cause of death is unknown.
Keith started playing with Young in Nashville in 1971, where he had been working as a session musician and was one of the city's go-to pedal steel players. He was called into the studio during Young's Harvest sessions and played on the hits "Heart of Gold" and "Old Man."
Apart from whenever Young worked with Crazy Horse, Keith had a role in nearly all of his various bands from 1973 on, such as the Stray Gators. Keith played on such classic recordings as "Rockin' in the Free World" and all of Tonight's the Night and On the Beach. He co-produced 1978's Comes a Time, 1985's Old Ways and 1992's Harvest Moon. He frequently toured with Young, and appeared on the live albums Unplugged and Road Rock Vol. 1.
In addition to collaborating with Young, he worked with numerous other artists including Patsy Cline, the Band and Warren Zevon. He also produced Jewel's 1995 smash Pieces of You.
It should also be noted that, along with being Young's collaborator, Keith was also one of his closest friends - Young's son Ben is named after him.
The Globe and Mail reports that Neil Young dedicated the song "Old Man" to Keith during his recent Winnipeg performance. He said, "His spirit will live on. The Earth has taken him."
Thanks to American Songwriter for the heads-up.