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, 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.
Drummond served as primary bassist on Young’s 1972 masterpiece Harvest and 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.
“One of the best bass players and a great guy. Sad to hear this,” producer Craig Leon tweeted.
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.
In addition to being an in-demand session bassist, Drummond also co-wrote “Saved” with Bob Dylan, the title track from Dylan’s 1980 album. Drummond was on the bass for the entire run of Dylan’s “gospel trilogy” – Slow Train Coming, Saved and Shot of Love – and, along with longtime collaborators keyboardist Spooner Oldham and drummer Jim Keltner, was a member of the powerful backup band that accompanied Dylan on his Slow Train Coming tour.
“I can’t praise [Dylan] enough. He’s not only a dear friend, but he was just great,” Drummond recently 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.” Rolling Stone spoke to Drummond about his experiences on the 1974 CSNY trek, including the night he and Stills hung out with Dylan after a Minneapolis concert.
“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 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.”
Drummond’s 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,” passed away at the age of 65 following a battle with cancer.