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Monday, July 26, 2010

Ben Keith: 1937 - 2010

Ben Keith: 1937 - 2010
Bridge Benefit Concert 2008
Photo by Craig Abaya

From official Neil Young website N Y Times:

On the full moon, the Thunder moon, the world lost one of the greatest musicians of all time. Ben was 73 years old the night he died on Broken Arrow Ranch in California, his happy home for the last years of his life. Ben played with Patsy Cline, Faron Young, Hawkshaw Hawkins, Ian Tyson and many other music greats. A great American, the quiet giant, he moved gently through the world, with kindness and grace.

My wife Pegi was lucky to share his last performance a few weeks back in San Francisco, where Ben was playing in her band, supporting her and lending his spirit to her every word as she sang her songs for us.

Of course, in Nashville Ben Keith is legendary, one of the last of the original country greats, the man behind the song. No one will ever fill his shoes. He has countless friends and admirers. They all miss him as much as I do. I will miss him every time I look to my side, remembering him, my brother and fellow traveler.

Thankfully, Ben's masterful playing can be seen and heard in two Johnathon Demme pictures: 'Heart of Gold' and 'Trunk Show,' as well as countless great recordings over the last 50 years. We are so fortunate to have these as memories and lasting documents of his greatness and grace. He started out on a homemade steel guitar he fashioned himself from a piece of wood and left over parts. He loved his music and his life and cherished his many friends and soul mates.

He leaves behind his wonderful daughter Heidi, and his grandchildren who he loved so much, DJ, Rachel, James, Meredith, Aubrey, Fletcher and Caroline.

May he rest in Peace.

Neil Young

Making Greendale
Ben Keith as "Grandpa" in Greendale as filmed by Neil Young - 2002
(Eric Johnson as "Jed", center)

Ben Keith, Neil Young's long time band mate and dear friend, has passed away. Ben was 73.

Ben Keith, was a multi-talented musician who Neil Young first met in Nashville in February 1971 when Neil was recording the multi-platinum LP Harvest. Legend has it that Neil asked bassist Tim Drummond if he knew any pedal-steel players in town. Tim contacted Ben, who lived in town and off he went to the studio: "I didn't know who anyone was, so I asked, who's that guy over there?" and was told "that's Neil Young".

"They were already recording [Harvest] at the time," Keith said in the 2005 concert movie Heart of Gold. "I set up my steel and kind of snuck in there and started playing and we did five songs before we ever stopped and introduced ourselves."

Speaking to - News in March 2009, Keith remembered his first meeting with Young.
“He wanted a steel guitar player and I lived a couple of blocks from the studio. He’d already started the sessions, and I slipped in as quiet as I could and started playing along, and we cut five songs before I really met him. I didn’t even know who he was. I’d heard of CSNY, but I didn’t know he was doing a solo LP. He seemed like a good guy, as he did music like I do it – spontaneously.”

Neil Young often referred to Ben Keith as "Brother Ben".

In an interview with Director Jonathan Demme in Los Angeles Times by Randy Lewis, Demme said that Keith died of a heart attack.
"Demme called Keith “an elegant, beautiful dude, and obviously a genius. He could play every instrument. He was literally the bandleader on any of that stuff… Neil has all the confidence in the world, but with Ben on board, there were no limits. Neil has a fair measure of the greatness of his music, but he knew he was even better when Ben was there.”

“Ben and I developed the style during those sessions,” Young told The Tennessean in 2005. “When we did ‘Old Man’ and talked about what he could play, I said, ‘Try to play those single notes and make it sound doubled. Just ride those babies all the way through there, that’s a great sound.”

BREAKING - Check back...

From Ben Keith - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
Ben Keith is an American pedal steel guitarist, from Bowling Green, Kentucky. He worked as a session musician in Nashville in the late 1950s and 1960s. He is most famous for his work with Neil Young, both in stage shows and on albums such as Harvest, "Journey Through The Past", "Time Fades Away", "On The Beach", Tonight's the Night, "American Stars 'n' Bars", Comes A Time, "Hawks 'n' Doves", "Old Ways", "Freedom",Harvest Moon, "Silver and Gold", Prairie Wind, "Chrome Dreams II", and the live albums "Unplugged" and "Road Rock Vol. 1".

He played the role of "Grandpa Green" in the Neil Young feature length movie Greendale, released on DVD.

He has also worked with Terry Reid, Todd Rundgren, Lonnie Mack, The Band, David Crosby, Graham Nash, Paul Butterfield, J. J. Cale, Linda Ronstadt, Warren Zevon, Ian and Sylvia, Hungry Chuck, Emmylou Harris, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Anne Murray and Ringo Starr.

He is also known as the producer of Jewel's debut album Pieces of You and as a solo recording artist. He toured with Crosby Stills Nash & Young on their 2006 Freedom of Speech tour.

Ben Keith with Faron Young and band (via Rock Town Hall)

Keith's career dated back to playing on Patsy Cline's "I Fall to Pieces."

Rick Rosas & Ben Keith @ Cutting Room, NYC, NY 07-19-2007
Photo by Johnny Marr

Ben Keith, Neil Young’s Pedal Steel Guitarist and Collaborator, Dies | American Songwriter by Davis Inman:
Ben Keith’s pedal steel playing, typified on the opening track “Out On The Weekend,” was the perfect counterpoint to Young’s compositions. Bassist Tim Drummond once compared Keith’s playing to the fingers of fog that creep in over San Francisco Bay.

Ben Keith is interviewed by Pauline Stroosnijder for Culttv, outside the Amstel Hotel in Amsterdam, June 2009. Seems like some translation sync issues on interview.

From Ben Keith interview on Cool Groove:
"'As a producer, I hope what I bring to an artist is sensitivity,' says Keith. 'And maybe a sense of overview. I've always loved a lot of different kinds of music, and I've seen and heard a lot—I listened to a good bit of R&B in the early days, and I'm sure that influenced me in a big way. And growing up in Kentucky, so close to Nashville, that gave me some country roots. I was also really lucky to get to work with some great producers—Chet Atkins, for example. That's given me a lot to go on, and I don't believe the producer's role has changed all that much over the years. The technology, now that's a different story—that's changed tenfold. Sometimes the most exciting moments come out of the biggest challenges, like on the live tracks on Jewel's album. The place was very small, and it was hard to get a good sound with all the crowd noise and everything. For one song, Jewel came into the studio and overdubbed her last guitar chord, and we blended it in with the live track. Finding the little sweetening touches like that is really satisfying.'



Photo gallery by Tony Stack on Rock Steady Studios of Neil Young in Denver, CO on 4/27/09

UPDATE: Per Tabloid Daze: Neil acknowledged Ben's death at his Winnipeg concert tonight. Appearing somewhat sombre before the first song of his encore, Old Man, Young said, "This is for Ben Keith. His spirit will live on. The Earth has taken him."

UPDATE: From Diane Diekman » Blog Archive » Faron Young and Marty Robbins newsletter — 5 May 2010:
"When steel player Bennett Keith Schaeufele joined the Nashville musician’s union in 1956, the secretary said, “Oh! You’re not going to use that name, are you? Why don’t you use Ben Keith? People will remember it better.” So he became Ben Keith. The following year he signed on as one of Faron Young’s Country Deputies, joining Tom Pritchard on upright bass and Odell Martin on guitar. By 1960, the Deputies were Ben, Odell, Darrell McCall, and Roger Miller. Ben left the band in 1963, did demos and session work for awhile, and some producing. My sister and I visited him at his Gallatin home in 2000. By then he had toured for years with Neil Young. He told me he produced CDs for Jewel but didn’t mention her debut CD, Pieces of You, sold more than ten million units. It is still one of the best-selling albums of all time by a female artist."

(Thanks Mother Nature on the Run!)

Twitter / Jewel:
"Really sad news- Ben Keith has passed away... He produced my 1st album, & was an amazing steel player. I will miss u Ben."

From Jewel remembers producer Ben Keith | | The Tennessean:
For Jewel, though, Keith will always be the man who helmed her breakthrough, Pieces Of You, an album that sold more than 10 million copies.

"I was signed to Atlantic Records, completely ignorant about the music business," Jewel said. "I met with maybe 50 different producers, and a lot of them wanted to change what I did. Ben was the first who made me feel comfortable with who and what I was. He had the mentality of, 'Let the musician be the musician,' and he believed in me when I didn't know how to believe in myself."

"He was a champion of the song and the songwriter, no matter what," she said. "He was a defender, and he helped give me confidence. He wanted to pay homage to the song, with no over-singing and no over-playing. He produced that album, and so we both hit the frickin' goldmine.

We were dark horses that beat the odds."

Ben Keith in 1969 at Nashville's Music City Recorders
Photo from Billy W. Chernoff,

UPDATE: Worldwide condolences for Ben....

Ben, Neil & Pegi
Photo by Ernie Hernandez Jr

- Rust : Neil Young Messages
- The Steel Guitar Forum :: View topic - RIP Ben Keith
- Fender Guitar Forum
- Bob Dylan - Expecting Rain
- Pearl Jam - Ten Club Community
- ROCKS OFF - The Rolling Stones Message Board
- The Allman Brothers Band :: Where Music Plus Friends Equals Family
- RIP Ben Keith - The Jayhawks FanPage Board
- Steve Hoffman Forums - Ben Keith RIP
- Facebook | Thrasher's Wheat Never Sleeps - Ben Keith: 1937 - 2010
- Teenage Fanclub • View topic - Ben Keith
- RatDog.Org • View topic - RIP Ben Keith 1937-2010
- Ben Keith, RIP - MOJO Message Boards
- Ben Keith: 1937-2010 - Musikk - VG Nett Debatt
- - La Rubrique Nécrotopic - (page 176)
- Velvet Rope Forums: Ben Keith RIP
- RIFF Fanzine :: Ver tema - Triste noticia: ha fallecido Ben Keith
- • Bekijk onderwerp - RIP
- Ben Keith uit band van Neil Young RIP - forum
- Glorious Noise Boards - View topic - RIP Ben Keith
- Bonnaroo 2010 - The Official Neil Young For 2011 Thread
- Doom Forever Forever Doomed • View topic - Ben Keith RIP
- The Other Place - RIP Ben Keith
- R.I.P. Ben Keith
- Musiques [RIP Ben Keith]
- STANDIN' AT THE CROSSROADS: Ben Keith, Longtime Neil Young's Sideman and Pedal Steel Guitarist, Dies at 73
- No Expiration - a blog about timeless music: BEN KEITH, 1937-2010
- Neil Young sideman Ben Keith, dead at 73, played with Bob Dylan in studio and on stage - with audio.
- Facebook | R.I.P.Ben Keith

Ben Keith & Neil Young
2009-06-19, Tanzbrunnen, Köln, Germany

Photo by Falco


At 7/26/2010 10:27:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ahhhhh i just saw him with pegi last month!!! rip ben, you will be missed tremendously.

At 7/26/2010 10:31:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can't believe it. What antragic loss to the world. Rip Ben

At 7/26/2010 10:34:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know Ben but I've sure enjoyed his presence all of these years. My sympathy goes out to those who knew him. The losses are adding up fast for Neil. But there's much work yet to be done. Nothing to do but work, work work. Walk With Me. Shine me a light.

At 7/26/2010 10:34:00 PM, Anonymous Rob said...

RIP Ben.

I remember driving around in my late teen years with Tonight's the Night on in my car (I had just gotten the album) and "mellow my Mind" was playing. That beautifully mournful steel part came on, and it blew my mind. I quickly decided that Ben Keith's steel playing might be the most emotionally riveting playing I have ever heard on any instrument. I dug through every Neil album I had, and bought the ones I didn't have in part to hear Ben's beautiful slide guitar. The notes were always the most perfect accompaniment imaginable, and was the icing on the cake to some of the best music ever created.

At 7/26/2010 10:41:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

well there goes that santa monica flyers reunion i've been dreaming about.

shit. we'll miss ya ben.

At 7/26/2010 11:01:00 PM, Blogger Shadow said...

Neil and all his people my condolencies . Ben from when i bought that NEW Harvest album when it came out to now i always knew you were special . From the opening notes of you and Neil first song on my old record player in my room that HOG came out of you were unique to rock fans . RIP Ben .

The Searcher , in Michigan

At 7/26/2010 11:14:00 PM, Anonymous SONY said...

oh no.
There will never be another Ben.

At 7/26/2010 11:18:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so sorry to hear this news
I had no Idea he had even been sick!
What a sad loss for Neil.
Ben could really relate to Neil's spontaneity on stage, could read Neil's mood and between Him ,Rick and Anthony, complimented Neil beautifully.
Rest in Peace Ben and condolences to Neil and Pegi for another sad loss in the family.

just my opinion

At 7/26/2010 11:19:00 PM, Anonymous cosplusisin said...

I cannot believe this. My condolences to everyone close to him. The first time I saw him live in 2007 with Neil was very exciting to me, not only because I wanted to see Neil, but because I would be witnessing the magic tough of Ben Keith. I feel very fortunate to have witnessed his wonderful playing live on three more occasions after that, but I am very sad I never will again. At least we will always have the recordings. I think I will go listen to "Ever After" now.

Though I've never met you, I will miss you dearly. RIP Ben.

At 7/26/2010 11:21:00 PM, Anonymous SONY said...

I am just numb.
A true troubadore, Ben Keith.
good bye friend, you will always be missed.

At 7/26/2010 11:27:00 PM, Anonymous Ian Campbell said...

Deeply saddend, Ben wove the golden threads through a lot of Neil's best music. My heart is out there for his family & friends. I guess Neil has been watching this over his shoulder like a train bearing down on him, all you can do is keep workin'

At 7/26/2010 11:34:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very sorry to hear that Ben, too, has passed away. First LA Johnson and now Ben. My condolences to Ben's family tonight. Poor Neil; Ben and he go way back and Neil always considered Ben his brother. What must he be thinking tonight as he goes on stage in Winnipeg. A very bitter sweet homecoming. I'm so sorry Neil . . .

At 7/26/2010 11:43:00 PM, Blogger karen said...

oh no, so so sorry to hear this sad news.

heartfelt condolences to all ben's family and friends, especially to neil's family and extended family/band/team, and most especially to neil.

thanks, ben, for all the beautiful music you left down here with us. the music lives on. so does the love.


At 7/26/2010 11:45:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

RIP Ben, you were amazing.

At 7/26/2010 11:57:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So sad for Ben's family and friends. Another close friend of Neil's now gone. Ben will be missed but his music will live on. It was only a couple of days ago I was admiring Ben's playing in the 2000 Red Rock Live DVD.

At 7/26/2010 11:59:00 PM, Anonymous cosplusisin said...


Yes, especially in "Words".

At 7/27/2010 12:30:00 AM, Anonymous {Lookout Mama} said...

man, that truly sucks!

RIP Ben. some sweet sounds among the angels tonite for sure.

At 7/27/2010 12:30:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, so sorry to hear the sad news. My condolences to his family. No one could play songs from the soul better.

At 7/27/2010 12:34:00 AM, Blogger CCTB said...

I just can't believe this news. Future Music has changed!
So Sad.

At 7/27/2010 12:40:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sad, sad, sad.
RIP Ben!
Ben and Neil:

At 7/27/2010 12:48:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

yeah karen, the person we should feel most sorry for is neil.

At 7/27/2010 12:58:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel as if I have lost a part of my own family. I am sure Ben and LA are already planning a jam above. RIP Ben

At 7/27/2010 01:25:00 AM, Blogger Paddy said...

Neil acknowledged Ben's death at his Winnipeg concert tonight. Appearing somewhat sombre before the first song of his encore, Old Man, Young said, "This is for Ben Keith. His spirit will live on. The Earth has taken him."

At 7/27/2010 01:30:00 AM, Blogger pepetrfc said...

This is sad news. I use a photo from Neil's concert at Hyde Park last year as my desktop with Ben on guitar. He wil be sadly missed but remembered forever.
To all his family and friends I send my deepest sympathy.
RIP Ben.

At 7/27/2010 01:41:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh man, what a loss, for everyone who loved and appreciated him. I was shocked when I saw this just now. Sometimes, you just can sense a gentle soul, and even though I never knew Ben personally, that was always my feeling about him. He was a highlight all these years, be it playing Grandpa, or alone on stage with Neil playing "For The Turnstiles", or by providing so much sublime color to the music for such a long time. But for Neil he was so much more I'm sure, a companion, a simpatico spirit, a reassuring presence through all the ups and downs. Obviously, I am sure he was all this and more to his family and friends. I never really had a sense of LA Johnson, and only learned of his ultimate importance to Neil after he died. But I just kind of took for granted that Ben would always be a part of things. Just another reminder that Life waits for no one or no thing, it just marches on. As I get older, and especially lately, things just seem to be getting a little more frayed at the edges, my loved ones are getting older, more frail, more vulnerable. This one kind of hits me like that. I feel this one. I can only guess at what Neil is feeling, and how he will react as one more piece of his past is ripped from him. RIP Ben, and peace to all those who loved you, including all of us fans.

Greg M (A Friend Of Yours)

At 7/27/2010 02:11:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

RIP Ben,
glad I got to meet you at least once, in Copenhagen 2008, it was a special moment, getting to shake your hand. you have forever left a mark in my heart and soul with your guitar playing, Neil's greatest albums wouldn't have been the same without you on them.

My deepest condolances to your family.

For the turnstiles,
Ken Rune

At 7/27/2010 02:26:00 AM, Anonymous Babbo said...

Danny Whitten - guitar
Comrie Smith - rhythm guitar
Ben Keith - pedal steel
Rufus Thibodeaux - fiddle
Jack Nitzsche - keyboards
Bruce Palmer - bass
Dewey Martin - drums
Nicolette Larson - backing vocals
David Briggs - producer
LA Johnson - videographer
Bruce Berry - roadie


At 7/27/2010 02:51:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

For the Turnstiles. Mellow My Mind. Words (Between the Lines of Age). Those three songs alone come to mind where the man wove magical threads of pearls with his pedal steel. Neil lost a brother from another mother. Rest in peace, Mr. Keith. Condolences to all those near and dear to you.

At 7/27/2010 03:02:00 AM, Blogger LittleRaggie said...

Too shattered to properly respond right now.... Too much a part of my musical life to let him go without a note or two. Godspeed Long Green!!

At 7/27/2010 03:15:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Thank you Ben for putting everything of yourself into all the Notes you've left us with.
A little less "Cool" in the World now. Thoughts to all who knew and loved him...and to the fans such as myself. What a treasure he's left for us. Roger of LIVE RUST

At 7/27/2010 03:36:00 AM, Anonymous Johan Jansen said...

May he rest in peace.

Johan Jansen

At 7/27/2010 04:04:00 AM, Blogger Glen Boyd said...

This is really a shocker. I just Ben last month with Pegi Young at the Triple Door in Seattle and he looked fine and sounded fantastic. If he was ailing, I saw no sign of it. Does anyone know what the cause of death was?

R.I.P. Ben Keith


At 7/27/2010 04:21:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so sorry to hear this news. Ben was a giant pedal steel musician. He gave a true delicious sound to Neils music. It's a big loss. Rip Ben.

At 7/27/2010 04:49:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't believe this!

It seems like just yesterday I watched Ben Keith playing with Neil in awe. He added so much sound to the band, more so than any other band member I've ever seen.

Ben will be missed, and my thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad time.

Still in shock.

Davie from Scotland

At 7/27/2010 04:52:00 AM, Anonymous Mark said...

RIP Ben - it was only a year ago I saw him in Dublin with NY. Condolences to his friends and family.

At 7/27/2010 06:30:00 AM, Blogger Gilly Farrie said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 7/27/2010 06:32:00 AM, Blogger Gilly Farrie said...

very very sad news.....
this is a video of Ben from Nottingham UK 2009, so glad we filmed this now

At 7/27/2010 06:44:00 AM, Anonymous Falko said...

Sad news.... a bad day... too bad...

you will always be missed...


At 7/27/2010 07:26:00 AM, Anonymous MARIAN M. said...

That's me behind Ben and Rick in the picture above at The Cutting Room. He truly was one of the kindest, most gentle human beings that I have ever known.

My love, heart, and prayers for Neil and Pegi, and the rest of his family!

Truly a tragic loss for all of us!

Marian M.

At 7/27/2010 07:31:00 AM, Blogger Tweck9 said...

Oh no. Peace, Ben.

At 7/27/2010 07:55:00 AM, Blogger Harm said...

Sigh... what a loss, I cannot think of many people that were more important to Neil's career than him, he was there all the way, from Harvest to the Ditch Trilogy, The Shocking Pinks, International Harvesters and Blue Notes to his more recent work on Prairie Wind and Chrome Dreams. He played everything from Steel Guitar to electric guitar to saxophone, a true genius in many ways without whom most of the wonderful music Neil's made would not have existed. I have had the privilege to see hem in concert twice, once during the 2008 winter tour, at the Amsterdam RAI and once during the 2009 summer tour at Ahoy in Rotterdam, at both concerts he displayed some of his trademark licks on steel guitar and rocked out on Electric, hell he even played organ on Like a Hurricane! Goodbye Ben, you will be thoroughly missed; and thank you for the music.

At 7/27/2010 07:57:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love ya Ben,

To me you're the most important part of Neil Young's music besides Neil himself.

'the great explorer is now in granite laid'


At 7/27/2010 08:00:00 AM, Anonymous Jonathan said...

Oh no is right.
God bless you, Ben.
Peace for eternity - may you see the face of God.

At 7/27/2010 08:04:00 AM, Anonymous Liza said...

I am so shocked and sad and just can't believe it...what a terrible loss.
My deepest condolences go to his family and to Neil and his family.
Karen said: the music lives on and so does the love.
That is so true.

Light a candle for Ben,

Love, Liza

At 7/27/2010 08:18:00 AM, Anonymous tuned4life said...

Neil, my heart felt condolances to you and Pegi and to all Ben's family and friends. Love Doug S. Warsaw N.Y.

At 7/27/2010 08:21:00 AM, Anonymous Mother Nature on the Run ... said...

I was just listening to that gorgeous 16 minutes of "Words" yesterday on my "Journey Through The Past..."

On your journey outta here, Ben, many lights to guide you, many hearts to hold you, and many songs to comfort all you leave behind...

At 7/27/2010 08:26:00 AM, Anonymous SONY said...

If you believe in forever
Then life is just a one-night stand
If there's a rock and roll heaven
Well you know they've got a hell of a band

And a new member.

It is a bummer for sure, but with life there is hopefully the fulfillment of purpose before it is through. Ben Keith was a consumate musician and from all accounts a beautiful man.

God rest your soul Ben.

Sympathies to Ben's friends and family and the whole Neil Young entourage.

At 7/27/2010 08:28:00 AM, Anonymous thom said...

oh no!! i´m really shocked and very saddened. what a tragic, untimely loss.. my thoughts go out to your family and friends. thank you very much, sir.

thomas puehringer
wels, austria

At 7/27/2010 08:33:00 AM, Anonymous zuma said...

your the best ben. rip

At 7/27/2010 09:00:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am very sad to learn of Ben's passing. Last time I saw him (2007 tour), he looked frail, but played with such passion. His work on "Words" and "For the Turnstiles" is the stuff of legends... Loved him in Greendale, but mostly I loved him because he was such an integral part of the NY family. He is the stuff that glue is made of, a Stray Gator to the core.

At 7/27/2010 09:11:00 AM, Anonymous Gitte said...

That`s too sad!
Ben was such a great musician and wonderful man, liked him so much.


At 7/27/2010 09:21:00 AM, Blogger Neillwith2Ls said...

I just heard this news, what a sad day indeed. I would listen to NY albums like Harvest, TTN, Silver & Gold amongst others and be blown away by the amazing pedal steel Ben played. I harboured a wish that one day I'd learn how to play pedal steel like Ben, he was very inspiring. RIP Ben :(

At 7/27/2010 10:31:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unbelievably sad, he will be missed by so many. In so many ways. Last night I was re-watching a youtube vid of Ben and the band playing `Starting Over` with Pegi at the Tower Theatre in Philadelphia on their recent tour, for a DVD directed by Jonathon Demme. It must have been one of his last performances.

It`s so hard to take this in. Another great loss within months of LA`s passing. Many condolences to Ben`s family and to Neil and his family/extended family.

Another sharp twist along the twisted road.

RIP Ben Keith - his musical legacy will live on. Rock and roll must never die.


At 7/27/2010 10:32:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read in one obit that "He died earlier this month". What does that mean?

At 7/27/2010 10:40:00 AM, Anonymous Joe In T.O. said...

Neil and Pegi and everyone who's played and worked with them over the years have lost a friend. The world has lost a great musician. RIP Ben Keith and thanks for all the music...

Joe In T.O.

At 7/27/2010 10:44:00 AM, Blogger Skillit said...

Just read the headline and yelled out a bunch of curses followed by "again?!". Poor Neil, RIP Ben.

At 7/27/2010 10:47:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

He will be missed. What a unique presence he had. I feel so lucky to have heard him play, and so lucky to have the ability to hear his recordings for as long as I live. Thank you, Ben. RIP.

At 7/27/2010 10:50:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if he was still living on Neil's ranch when he passed?

Old Black

At 7/27/2010 10:56:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm stunned by this news, got so many records with his playing all over them, not just Neil's. Thank you for every note, Ben Keith, you were loved, you will be missed.


At 7/27/2010 11:10:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ben was a total inspiration to many! He will be very missed.

At 7/27/2010 11:16:00 AM, Blogger andrea1bianco said...

My sincere condolences to Ben family and Neil.

Andrea."So Tired"

At 7/27/2010 11:19:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

a sad sad day for Neil fans...a sadder day for Neil...

At 7/27/2010 11:36:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ben, Thank you so much for the body of work that you left for us to enjoy again and again. From all of us that have enjoyed your work, you will be truly missed. Blessings to your family & friends. R.I.P. Terry

At 7/27/2010 11:57:00 AM, Anonymous Luke said...

I'm so sad about this...
Ben was a real good musician and over the years i always thought he is so sympathic...

It's like a part of myself died.
I am a young man and it's so hard to see my Idols pass away... one after another :-(

At 7/27/2010 12:01:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Pedal Steel Solo in 'Red Sun' from Silver ans Gold is unbelieveable!!!
Thank you Ben for this!

At 7/27/2010 12:12:00 PM, Anonymous Mother Nature on the Run said...

Other than going down in history as one of the very greatests in slide and pedal, I think Diane Diekman in her blog put it best about how down-to- Earth and unassuming he was:

"When steel player Bennett Keith Schaeufele joined the Nash...ville musician’s union in 1956, the secretary said, “Oh! You’re not going to use that name, are you? Why don’t you use Ben Keith? People will remember it better.” So he became Ben Keith. The following year he signed on as one of Faron Young’s Country Deputies, joining Tom Pritchard on upright bass and Odell Martin on guitar. By 1960, the Deputies were Ben, Odell, Darrell McCall, and Roger Miller. Ben left the band in 1963, did demos and session work for awhile, and some producing. My sister and I visited him at his Gallatin home in 2000. By then he had toured for years with Neil Young. He told me he produced CDs for Jewel but didn’t mention her debut CD, Pieces of You, sold more than ten million units. It is still one of the best-selling albums of all time by a female artist."

He played his music because he loved music and he played with Neil because he loved Neil.

At 7/27/2010 12:26:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is a sad, sad day indeed. I find it somewhat strange that no one is sure when Ben passed away, or the cause of his death. Is there any more information out there?

At 7/27/2010 12:58:00 PM, Anonymous Frank said...

Heard it a couple of hours ago, it's ruined my whole day. I still can't believe it.

Listening to Tonight's the Night, Mellow My Mind is on now and I just had to write something here, how meaningless it may seem it.

At 7/27/2010 01:01:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ben Keith was a true legend. Like somebody posted before, he was able to put soooo much emotion into his playing. It complimented EVERY song that he played on with Neil. I am 22 years old and I feel Truly honored to have been able to see Ben live with Neil back in 2007 in Buffalo. I was at the concert with my brother, his girlfriend at the time and her mom, Patty. I distinctly remember telling Patty "The steel guitarist, Ben Keith, is amazing. He plays with so much emotion." She looked over at me after one of the songs and said "Wow...he is good!"

Let's not forget that Ben played his brilliant steel guitar on "Lost And Lonely Feeling" from Crazy Horse's amazing album "Crazy Moon" from well as a few tracks on Rusty Kershaw's "Now and Then" from 1992.

At 7/27/2010 01:03:00 PM, Anonymous Jean-Louis HUME said...

From Paris (France)

Can't believe it, what a loss !!!

Just some Neil's words to repeat :

"Rust never sleeps"

RIP ben, I will never forget you

At 7/27/2010 01:08:00 PM, Anonymous Friedemann said...

I'am so sorry to hear this sad news. I have see Ben 2008 and 2009 in germany. Rest in Peace Ben

At 7/27/2010 01:12:00 PM, Anonymous setlistthief said...

We'll miss you, Ben. Thanks for your music.

At 7/27/2010 01:48:00 PM, Blogger The Loner said...

I just want to express that i feel sad today reading about the death of Ben Keith. But also thankful for the music he has created togheter with Neil and others. I guess it's time to put on the wonderful Christmas album, Seven Gates, again.

We will miss you, Ben.

The Loner

At 7/27/2010 02:23:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is not just a terrible loss to us the fans.It's also a terrible loss to Ben's friends and family.The world has lost a GREAT talent and by all accounts a good man.What a great musician and awesome complement to Neil's music over the years.We're losing "The Greats" and we'll never see the likes of 'em again.My prayers and sympathies are with Ben's friends and family.RIP Ben.Your body lies but still you roam.

Rancho Relaxo

At 7/27/2010 02:37:00 PM, Anonymous Alfisti said...

Painfully I learned about the Human Highway mailing list today by Ben Keith's death. Ben and let you and your guitar will never forget. Rest in peace.

Torsten from Germany

At 7/27/2010 02:45:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've seen Ben Keith on stage three times in Toronto, including two shows with CSNY 'Freedom of Speech' Tour 2006 and Neil Young Solo Tour 2008. Great musican, Long May You Run, Ben.

At 7/27/2010 03:32:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

... and I know Ben is with you ...

At 7/27/2010 04:03:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

in his music he will live on true to his own spirit

At 7/27/2010 04:41:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stay strong Neil:

For it is a twisted road you ride
You speak the truth,nothin' to hide

To lose a friend,not just another
A special friend, a real soul brother

One wonders why,We'll never know
Why its their time,their time to go

He was your man, with guitar of steel

No one will know,just how you feel

This twisted road, always had a meaning

Your harvest friend, those days of gleaning

this old friend,this stray gator
he leaves us now, but we'll see him "later"

God bless Ben, God bless, and thankyou Neil

At 7/27/2010 04:53:00 PM, Anonymous Luc said...

When we're young, death is so far away. Growing older, it closes in...
This is a very sad day, for all of us, Neil Young fans. But my thoughts go out to his family. They lost a husband, a father, a grandfather...
Also my sincerest condolences to Neil and Pegi, who lose a very dear friend. I remember him playing on the Euro Tour in 2008 and 2009, the quiet, cool, friendly looking "old man", playing that steel guitar, playing the organ, and always checking on Neil.
One of these days, in honour and rememberance of a great musician, I will view Greendale once more, and Archives Vol. 1, Ben Keith in rehearsing " Words".
And for now, I listen to Harvest, and Silver and Gold, with a tear in the eye, knowing what a great loss this must be for everybody who knew and loved him.

We walk with you Neil.
And light a candle for Ben Keith.

At 7/27/2010 04:55:00 PM, Anonymous BigChief said...

I write this in tears as well as a bit of anger. As soon as I saw Astrids post on Facebook last night at approx. 9PM, I Googled Ben and there was not any mention of his passing. I ran out first thing this morning and got all the papers and not one mention of his death as well. In our world, you would have thought it would have made the headlines! As pieces of Neil continue to fall around him,this is a loss that words cannot begin to express the heartache of the reality of just how vulnerable and fragile life as we know it really is. Without trying to diminish the importance of the contributions that others in Neils circle have made through the years, Ben Keith's pedal steel personafied the 'country' side of Neil and was just as essential to the magic of those recordings as Neil's immeasurable talent as a singer, songwriter, and guitarist. Try to imagine what Harvest would have lacked had not Tim Drummond called on Ben to join in on those sessions. All of those recordings and performances over the years have been much richer as a result of his presence. His signiature sound was just as distinctive on steel as Neil when he straps on 'Old Black'. His mournful style just tugged on my heartstrings. But, Neil will continue to do what he does and just as there was a Frank Sampedro to carry on for Danny Whitten, there now is another position to be filled but will never be replaced. 'LongGrain' R.I.P.

At 7/27/2010 05:02:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

rip ben keith

thanks for 40 years of great music with neil


At 7/27/2010 05:03:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautifully written Chief....
beautifully written!

just my opinion

At 7/27/2010 05:12:00 PM, Anonymous Kimball said...

This is a sad loss, we've gained much from his lifelong efforts to entertain. I hope Neil holds the strength to push forward through the mounting losses as we all age. Best wishes to all those affected and lets listen to some more songs with Ben playing along with Neil!

At 7/27/2010 05:39:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's so hard to say goodbye. Isn't it strange how you can connect with someone through their music. I have never met the man, yet my life has been affected by him and his music. I am sad today. The loss is real, tangible.

Thank you Ben for all that you have left us. We love you. Goodbye

Sandy Horne

At 7/27/2010 06:17:00 PM, Anonymous HarryO said...

Thank you all for sharing your memories and other feelings about the late, great Ben Keith. My dear friend Kurt "Speakin' Out" called me last night and gently gave me the sad news.

The first time I saw Ben play was at the Gorge during the Music in
Head/Friends & Relatives tour in 2000. It was a phenomenal show.

I last saw Ben on June 10, 2010 here in Seattle. Jim M. and I sat in the front row, directly in front of Ben, during Pegi Young's set at the Triple Door. It was a real treat to watch him play from a mere few feet away. His playing was, as always, sensitive and beautiful.

Here's Neil, Ben and Pegi on "Long May You Run" -- performed in Vancouver on my birthday last year.

We'll miss you, Ben. Deepest condolences to the Young and Keith families, and all of Ben's friends, who surely loved him so deeply and completely.

With sorrow, but also joyful remembrances,

At 7/27/2010 06:29:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What can I say, Ben's playing was so soulfull and the perfect counterpoint to Neil that I'm lucky I got to see him in Dublin last year and Hammersmith before that. Underrated and a great loss to his friends and family.
A quote on the Steel Forum I think sums up his playing,'never overplayed, always just for the song'.

At 7/27/2010 08:31:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another painful twist on this twisted road.

Tragic loss, what can one say. My deepest sympathies go out to Ben's family, his friends, his bandmates, his fans ... he touched so many people with his kindness, grace, humility, and his incredible talents ... for those who see Neil's music as the song track to their life, Ben's role was central to that music, central to that soundtrack and central to years and years of great memories ... we've travelled much of this lifetime with him and he gave us so much, hard to imagine he's gone now ...

Ben, your gone but never forgotten. Thanks for the heart and soul you poured into your craft, your impact is truly immeasurable!!!

With much sorrow,

At 7/27/2010 08:32:00 PM, Anonymous brooklyn mitch said...

i'm getting a little older myself. saw neil at the united palace n.y.c,and the garden over the past couple of years. also caught trunk show movie. always came away being blown away by mr. keith, us older guys just gettin better. way to young to go. rip ben

At 7/27/2010 08:58:00 PM, Blogger RSS said...

So Sad. But let’s celebrate Ben's life and accomplishments. I have loved NY and his music for 40+ years and have seen NY with Ben Keith 6 times in the past 3 years. Ben's pedal steel was SECOND TO NONE. His rhythm guitar backing NY was superb. RIP Ben. You are loved, sorely missed and will always be remembered. Cheers.

At 7/27/2010 09:14:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Breaks my heart

At 7/27/2010 09:15:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a huge loss for the world of music. He was a giant.
My condolences to all Ben's family and friends.

Rust in Peace

Jason on Isla Formosa

At 7/27/2010 09:38:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

RIP Long Grain. You introduced a lot of rock fans to the sound of a so-called hick instrument and helped Neil's country sound immensely. The grandkids will be introduced to Harvest next week on vacation along with Live Rust which captured their mother many years ago.

I'm off to play Winterlong from 2007 at Massey Hall on youtube. The video is a Piece of Crap, but the sound is awesome. It was one of those nights when Ben cranked it up on the pedal steel.

Rusted in KY

At 7/27/2010 09:48:00 PM, Anonymous ShittyHorse said...

Man, it’s hard to relate and express emotions for the loss of a man you have never met, a man you know so very little about, but what you do know is that this great man has repeatedly touched your soul and you can't help feeling the profound loss that you do. In the end it doesn’t matter that you've never had a conversation or even shook his hand. It doesn’t matter that he was not in the spotlight so much or perhaps never made the big headlines or had numerous biographies written on him. That is not important. What matters is the gorgeous music Ben made and the emotion we all felt from it. It was a life so worthwhile, a colossal talent and an immense loss because Ben could almost literally reach out and caress your sorrow, tug your heartstrings, and put you on other planets with that otherworldly sounding petal steel.
Ben Keith made the sound of sorrowful ghosts, left to wander the dusty back country roads, the sound of soaring, misty, heaven and, on occasion, that sound skirted the scorching boarders of hell and yet, at the same time, it was always so firmly rooted on earth, in the old homestead.
A musician is a magician, and Ben was among the best. With those strings, pedal and that steel Ben made magic that moved over mountains, whined down into the deepest valleys, cried up into the clouds, sung sweetly over the oceans and danced, nightly with thousands of restless spirits.
The loss of a great man you didn’t know could be a profound loss indeed. But the magic he made is always alive; breathing, weeping and howling its gorgeous lament. The music’s heartbeat can never cease, only beat on, in time to the parade to generations to come who will, undoubtedly, pick out that sorrowful sound and wonder about this man who was capable of such magic.
R.I.P. Brother Ben

At 7/27/2010 09:53:00 PM, Blogger Archives Guy said...

On behalf of our crew, thanks for the kind words and thoughts. We all appreciate it.

-Archives Guy

At 7/27/2010 09:56:00 PM, Blogger Archives Guy said...

in reply to Babbo-

LA Johnson was not a videographer.
He was a Producer and Filmmaker.

At 7/27/2010 10:29:00 PM, Anonymous Geoff Burgess said...

Like everyone else, I'm shocked and saddened. This hits very hard. Just felt compelled to express my sadness. RIP Ben


At 7/27/2010 10:51:00 PM, Anonymous Babbo said...

In reply to AG:

Sorry about the semantics, but I stand by the spirit - this much sorrow is too much madness.

At 7/27/2010 11:13:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I will miss “Uncle Benny”.
I easily grew to love Benny’s outstanding Kentucky family and relished my visits to the 40 acre farm near Bowling Green where he was raised. My wife, Connie, was a little girl of two or three when she lived for while with Ben’s parents who were my wife’s grandparents, Benny must have been just about a teenager at the time.
Family stories always colored Ben as possessing a free and wild sprit.
Ben spoke of how he first went out on the road with Hawkshaw Hawkins and then recorded with Patsy Cline. Hawkshaw died in the same plane crash that took Patsy Cline. Soon Ben was playing with Faron Young. From then on Ben’s musical associations with recording artists rapidly grew to encompass a who’s who of recording artists from across the world.
I am grateful for the endearing and kind words Mr. Neil Young used on stage about twenty-five years ago to describe his respect for Benny. If I recall correctly, Mr. Young’s hound dog, Elvis, AKA the King, was included in the mix. Our family is comforted to know how much generosity and care Mr. Young and his family provided for Benny and the other members of the crew that would record and tour with Neil Young over the years.
Ben truly found his extended family out on the road and on the California ranch with the Young family and friends.
Mark Mirski

At 7/28/2010 02:59:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

These are really bad news. My heartfelt sympathy to Ben's Family, Relatives and Friends. His style made the sound of Neil's music so unique. Hi will be sadly missed. The cause of his death was probably a heart attack (source:

Neussi from Munich, Germany.

At 7/28/2010 04:35:00 AM, Anonymous Mr Henry said...

"...and though the tears rolled down my face, I wasn't sobbing or out of control. I just waited a bit, then turned back to the car, to drive off to wherever it was I was supposed to be."
Kazuo Ishiguro from Never Let Me Go

Words are kind of failing me right very sad to hear of Ben's passing. What a great, great man and such an outstanding musician. To encompass such a large part of modern music and yet remain so humble and human.

Thank you Ben. I'll think of you every time I hear Oh Lonesome Me and remember how much joy you've given to the world.

"I can barely hold the table to scribble journalistic impressions, the floor's rumbling under so many boots and sneakers. The record player's old-fashioned and the loudspeakers are shitty and it all sounds fantastic."
David Foster Wallace

At 7/28/2010 04:48:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

It’s a terrible tragedy that Ben Keith has passed away. You can help remember him by contributing to his memorial website at

At 7/28/2010 06:07:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

etafI am so sorry to hear this sad news. Ben was the best pedal steel player in the whole universe. No one could play from the soul better. When I first met Neil’s music it was the sound of Ben that took me on this long, long journey. The right notes in the right place with perfect timing and always filled with so much emotion. Thanks for all the beautiful music you left down here with us. My heart is out there for his family & friends.

Ever After
Out On The Weekend
For The Turntiles
The Painter
Beautiful Bluebird
Hold Back the Tears
This Old Guitar
Where is the Highway Tonight
The Painter
Light A Candle

Once an Angel, always an Angel.


At 7/28/2010 06:22:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Light a Candle for Ben and listen to his steel guitar:

At 7/28/2010 06:58:00 AM, Blogger J Phimister said...

As a tribute to Ben, last night I listened to Tonight's the Night and then On the Beach from start to finish - two of Neil's greatest albums, and two of the greatest albums ever made, and the creation of which Ben was key to.

I was in tears when listening to the heart-rending slide on "Mellow my Mind", "Albuquerque" and "Tired Eyes", but then broke into a wide grin when I heard Neil bark out "Take it, Ben" on "Lookout Joe" for the great man to leap into a barnstorming solo. Awesome. I also grinned when listening to "For the Turnstiles", remembering Ben's laconic comments about how high he had to get his voice on that song. Something about getting his balls caught in a crack in his chair, if I recall.

A great musician (one of the best ever to play with Neil), a lovely guy from all accounts, someone who will be sorely missed. RIP Ben Keith.

At 7/28/2010 07:48:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

What a player - sad that 'Long-grain' is gone. Was lucky enough to see him a few times in his last couple of years. A superb player - his pedal steel work is some of the most beautiful (and rockin') I ever heard.

At 7/28/2010 07:51:00 AM, Blogger Colonel Cam said...

We did a playlist to really highlight what a truly great slide player / musician he was. Plenty of NY but some really interesting stuff from his session work.

RIP Ben Keith, from all at Commercially Inviable Records, UK.

At 7/28/2010 08:51:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Long-Grain, you provided the soul to Mr. Soul himself; you mellowed my mind on more than one occasion; and you put me on that long dark road to Albuquerque, no road map needed...

Indeed, old times were good times...

R.I.P. and sleep soundly with those angels.
- Jim in DC

At 7/28/2010 11:00:00 AM, Anonymous Chris & Annie said...

See you later Mr.Keith!

Chris & Annie
Québec City.

At 7/28/2010 11:50:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The response to this thread and the total shock and sadness of this news is a direct reflection of how the wheat sees a loss in "the family"
its great to be a part of so many caring fans
Rip again Ben.. we'll miss "that ol'(steel) guitar.

Those turnstiles will always allow you back one day... do not stray too far.

just my opinion

At 7/28/2010 12:42:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

RIP Long Grain - May The Spirit who moves through All Things carry you to peace and joy. You are missed by all.

At 7/28/2010 12:45:00 PM, Anonymous Greysoul said...

I think the highlight of watching Neil’s Trunk Show for my wife and I was the absolute sweetness radiating out of Ben on that stage. They’d be in the middle of one of those verge-of-complete-meltdown breaks with Neil just wailing the living dog snot out of Old Black and Ben would be right there, holding down the fort with a little smile on his face, looking for all the world like the Wise Ol’ Man of the Mountain. He could formation fly at Neil’s wingtip and make it look like he was eating an apple – just effortless.

Sadly, this is going to be happening more often as the years roll on. Many of our heroes had a head start on us in this age thing. Me, I’m 52. By the time I figured out I had ears, folks like Ben were already making the music I latched onto.

And they’re likely to reach the end of the line before us.

Time fades away, indeed.

Brian Robbins

At 7/28/2010 12:49:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For me, from now on, it will ALWAYS BE top shelf PATRON!


At 7/28/2010 12:49:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brother Ben -

The first time I ever saw you play was the first time I ever saw Neil play - June 9, 1989, at Great Woods in Mansfield, Mass.

What a night, listening to magical music as a torrential rainstorm pelted us from up above! "I Love You People Out There In The Rain" - Neil

I think Neil even referred to you as "Brother Ben" when he introduced you before "For the Turnstiles."

Peace to you and your family, Benny.

Johnny Rocket!
06-09-1989, Great Woods Perf. Arts Center, Mansfield, Massachusetts

1. My My, Hey Hey (Out Of The Blue)
2. Rockin' In The Free World
3. Comes A Time
4. Sugar Mountain
5. Pocahontas
6. Helpless
7. Crime In The City
8. For The Turnstiles
9. This Old House
10. Roll Another Number
11. Too Far Gone
12. This Note's For You
13. The Needle And The Damage Done
14. No More
15. After The Gold Rush
16. Heart Of Gold
17. Ohio
18. Rockin' In The Free World
19. Powderfinger

Tape Exists : Yes
Length : 90
Notes :
Tour : 1989 A Solo Acoustic Evening - US Tour with Ben Keith And Frank Sampedro
Band : Solo with support
Neil Young - vocals, guitar, banjo, keyboards, harmonica
Frank Sampedro - guitar. mandolin, vocals
Ben Keith - dobro, keyboards, vocals

At 7/28/2010 12:53:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ben's playing with the Angel's now and you know they're smiling at what they're hearing.

At 7/28/2010 01:17:00 PM, Blogger Tweck9 said...

This is so sad. I can't get through all these comments, even though it's so beautiful that so many people have so many wonderful things to say about Mr. Keith.

Rest in Peace, Ben, such an awesome inspiration, such a wonderful legacy, and such an impact you had, which lives on in my radio.

You'll be playing those sweet sounds from my speakers until the day I die.

At 7/28/2010 01:23:00 PM, Blogger Dmitri Karamazov said...

Ben Keith was a genius as a musician, that's for sure. You could identify his playing with hearing just one note. What a loss, but what a great gift he gave to all of us!!

At 7/28/2010 01:29:00 PM, Anonymous setlistthief said...

First LA, now Ben. The hardest part, for me, is the stark reminder that the world, sooner or later, is going to lose Neil, also. That I cannot, will not, accept.

RIP, Bandit.

At 7/28/2010 01:44:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did I see somewhere that Ben played with Terry Reid?The soundtrack to Rob Zombie's Devil's Rejects movie is one of THE best soundtracks ever.And 3 of the best songs on it are from Terry Reid.Those songs are Brave New Awakening,To Be Treated and Seeds of Memory.I believe the actual album they're from is called Seeds of Memory.Can anyone out there tell me if that's Ben playing on said songs?And yes yes I know those songs sound sortta Neil Youngish.So what they're GREAT songs.Thanks.

Rancho Relaxo

At 7/28/2010 02:28:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My heart sank when I saw the headline on your site.
What a gifted musician, it's a sad loss, another great talent is gone. Sad news, condolences to his freinds and family, must be a tough time for Neil, his long time buddy.


At 7/28/2010 02:30:00 PM, Blogger Dmitri Karamazov said...

I think of the words in Neil's song The Painter:

"I keep my friends eternally
We leave our tracks in the sound.
Some of them are with me now,
Some of them can't be found."

At 7/28/2010 02:37:00 PM, Anonymous Mr Henry said...

"Anyway, back to the motel, we're just sitting around having a few honey-slides, and they slow you down quite a bit, you know, there's nothing to really get fast for, anyway, and this song is sort of...well, we're all sitting around playing this chorus, I'm playing with my friends Rusty Kershaw and Ben Keith...."

from Scott Young: Neil and Me p. 132

At 7/28/2010 03:22:00 PM, Anonymous vertigone said...

RIP, Ben.

At 7/28/2010 06:55:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shittyhorse. I keep re-reading your post and can't get through it without crying. What a beautiful tribute. Thank you for comforting me. That goes for all of you.

Sandy Horne

At 7/28/2010 07:50:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shitty, I got to agree with Sandy ,your post is a beautiful tribute to a man that was obviously an integral part to Neil's life.

You've painted such a beautiful picture that says it all about the man with steel.

Thanks Shitty and to all wheaties that have put to word, their feelings and sentiments at such a sad time of a man the nearly all of us didn't really know but was there as Neil's linchpin. there was a musical telepathy that allowed Neil and Ben to 'connect' without a word spoken..just a look across the stage, a little nuance, a gesture ...they were in each others zone..that's obviously the
result of a 'marriage' that only musicians with the same integrity to their art have.
Ben certainly 'got' Neil and this chemistry was reflected every time they hit the stage and studio together. that musical unison was consumated from those "Harvest" days and nether faulted..."Till death do us part"...and sadly...that's what it took.

just my opinion

At 7/29/2010 01:38:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great musician with a unique sound , very sad . Ben Keith was a major part of that Harvest sound that is Neil Young .

Lucky to see Ben play with Neil in Perth , West Oz last January


At 7/29/2010 02:51:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ben, you were one of my musical heroes. Thank you for all of your inspiration to play music professionally. You were a helluva player. You will be sorely missed. Thanks for a great show with Pegi in June. Rock on brother.

At 7/29/2010 01:01:00 PM, Blogger Don said...

I was listening to Silver n Gold when I heard the news on line. Ben Long Grain Keith - Legend. The heavens are just that little bit more relaxed for having you in their company. Let those notes just soar and ride them through those pearly gates. God speed.

At 7/29/2010 01:20:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good to read all these personal stories and memories. The last couple of days I’ve been listening to Brother Ben’s music all the time. I allways have been a huge fan of his sound. But it’s good to listen to it all over again. Most sites (including this one T.!!!) have a list of musician’s he played with but it’s hard to find out what he played with them. I just discovered Ben plays on one of my all time Emmylou favourites Boulder to Birmingham. A beautiful sad song she wrote for Gram. Our good friend Archives Guy asked on the Rust list to make a top ten of Ben’s best songs, which I think is a nice idea to remember him. Albuquerque is my personal favorite (I was always hoping to see Neil and Ben play it live once in my lifetime). Since there’s also on Wikipedia no list of records Ben played on I just started to put it together. As a kind of respect for him and the beautiful sounds he could create. Help and corrections needed… and I also think there can be a topic on this site were we can discuss our favourite Ben Keith songs… what about you Thrasher? BSM

1960? – Patsy Cline – I Fall to Pieces
1970 – Ringo Starr – Beaucoups of Blues
1970 – Mother Earth – Satisfied
1972 – Neil Young – Harvest
1972 – Todd Rundgren – Something/Anything?
1972 – Chris Smither – Don’t It Drag On
1973 – Graham Nash – Wild Tales
1973 – Neil Young – Time Fades Away
1973 – The Band – Moondog Matinee
1974 – Neil Young – On The Beach
1975 – Emmylou Harris – Pieces of the Sky
1975 – Neil Young – Tonight’s The Night
1975 – Emmylou Harris – Elite Hotel
1975 – David Crosby / Graham Nash – Wind On Water
1976 – Paul Butterfield – Put It In Your Ear
1977 – Neil Young – American Stars ‘n Bars
1977 – Lonnie Mack – Lonnie Mack and Pismo
1978 – Emmylou Harris / Linda Ronstadt / Dolly Parton – Trio 2
1977 – Neil Young – Comes a Time
1979 – Emmylou Harris – Blue Kentucky Girl
1980 – Neil Young – Hawks and Doves
1983 – Neil Young & The Shocking Pinks – Everybody’s Rockin
1984 – To a Wild Rose (En Pointe)
1985 – Neil Young – Old Ways
1988 – Neil Young – This Note’s For You
1989 – Neil Young – Freedom
1992 – Neil Young – Harvest Moon
1993 – Neil Young – Unplugged
1994 – Ian Tyson – Eighteen Inches Of Rain
1994 – Ben Keith And Friends – Seven Gates: A Christmas Album
1997 – Bob Dylan – The Bootleg Series Vols. 1–3 (rare and unreleased 1961–1991)
1998 – The Simpsons – The Yellow Album
1999 – Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – Looking Forward
2000 – Neil Young – Silver And Gold
2000 – Neil Young – Road Rocks Volume 1
2005 – Neil Young – Prairie Wind
2007 – Neil Young – Chrome Dreams 2
2007 – Pegi Young – Pegi Young
2008 – Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – DejaVu (Live)
2009 – Neil Young – Fork in the Road
2010 – Pegi Young – Foul Deeds

At 7/29/2010 01:31:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

His good friend Neil:


At 7/29/2010 02:05:00 PM, Blogger Greg McGarvey said...

"Harvest Moon" came on the radio at the coffee shop just as I finished reading Neil's statement. :) Definitely got some tears queued up. Maybe I'd better put my sunglasses on....

At 7/29/2010 02:53:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr Henry, you`re probably already aware of this but for anyone who`s not, you can hear Neil telling the whole `honey slides` story during the legendary Bottom Line club performance (May 1974) at this link. It`s the intro to `Motion Pictures` after the `Southern Man` story.

What wonderful heartfelt amd interesting comments people are making. Ben was a true musical genius who will be remembered as a legend, apart from being the lovely gentle-man that he obviously was. He will be irreplaceable as an outstanding musician and also as a friend/brother to Neil and I worry about how Neil will cope with this dreadful blow when he`s obviously still grieving from the loss of L.A. My heart goes out to all of Ben`s family and extended family. Ben`s hauntingly beautiful pedal steel/slide steel playing will live on every time we listen to all those songs we`re so familiar with, too numerous to mention. I`m so glad to have seen him last year when Neil and the band were at Hyde Park, London. Their performance of` `Words` was sublime.

I`m listening to George Harrison singing `while my guitar gently weeps……`


At 7/29/2010 03:07:00 PM, Anonymous pieceofcrap said...

I first saw Ben Keith live in Ahoy (Rotterdam), 1989. Neilw was really getting into it, a solo show, hammering away on the guitar on "Rocking in the Free World" and other new stuff, when suddenly, out of the blue, there was this grandpa-style guy on stage with him, smiling and gently stroking the pedal or steel guitar. Neil was yaping and screaming, but it seemed like nothing was gonna get this guy out of his bearings... Also, what struck us drunken dudes in the first row: his hair was, well, really great. All done up neatly by an Old West barber, no doubt, Neil fiddling on the banjo outside on the porch..
So we just started screaming, just when he was about to get into "Too Far Gone": "Hey, Ben, what's with the hair? You look great, man!"
He almost seemed to jump up at the sound of his name being called dout. What the f.... I'm here with Neil, for the umptieth time, and now they start yelling for me??
We sat down and smiled.
He deserved to be noticed.

At 7/29/2010 03:31:00 PM, Anonymous Mr Henry said...

Wonderful words and thoughts from Neil. I know how hard it can be to do this, and then how easy it can also be; I've written eulogies and obituaries for both my parents and I've also lost many friends I was travelling with, including my older sister. One friend was just last summer; totally unexpected and I think of him every time I hear Losing My Religion (which seems to be on the radio a lot lately).

Thank you so much Neil. I hope that you, Pegi and your family, Ben's family and all of his friends are doing okay. Ben truly was "one of the last country greats", and I'm sure that my kids' grandchildren will be listening to him when I am long gone. My daughter called me for a birthday present suggestion for her boyfriend, who is also a huge fan of Neil. When I call her back, the answer will be "any album that has Ben playing on it...just check this link for a list".

Speaking of that, I've been seeing Todd Rundgren's song Cold Morning Light listed in Ben's discography. This is one of my all time favorites and it's awesome if Ben is playing on this tune. I've always thought that Something/Anything was a true, total solo album (i.e. same as A Wizard, A True Star). If anyone has more details about this, please feel free to comment. Todd is another one-of-a-kind artist who has chosen to follow his own road, which has been equally twisted at times. He's also one of the nicest people I've ever met, in the music world or any other one.

Finally kudos and thanks to everyone in the extended family of TW and Rusties for all of your blessings, tributes and remembrances. I know they've made me feel better, and I know it's been the same for many, many others. Shitty Horse's piece should get a Pulitzer Prize nomination; Mark's family story is so very touching; Big Chief has just the right combination of emotions and is completely right...this should have been a much bigger story in the mainstream media; Archives Guy great and to-the-point as always; Johnny Rocket and the '89 concert at Great Woods...which BTW is the only time I've ever missed Neil playing there on tour :( Also Matt, Sandy...really everyone.

As my mom used to sing to me:

In the Sweet By and By
We shall meet on that beautiful shore
In the Sweet By and By
We shall meet on that beautiful shore

God Bless, Ben. RIP....Namaste

And the melody that
He gave to me
Within my heart
Is ringing

And He walks with me
And He talks with me
And He tells me I am His own
And the joy we share
As we tarry there
None other has ever known
-- C. Austin Mills
In the Garden

At 7/29/2010 03:45:00 PM, Anonymous Babbo said...

Fired up the car to drive to work this morning and "Unknown Legend" was on the radio, with Ben's sweet steel. Struck me as an apt metaphor for the man - unknown (at least by name) to many in the masses, maybe, but a true legend in his own time.

At 7/29/2010 06:33:00 PM, Anonymous tuned4life said...

I would just like to say thanks for sharing with us. Once again, I hope your holding up OK. My deepest condolances to you and Pegi and all the rest of Ben's family and friends. I was looking forward to seeing you in Milwaukee tomorrow night but decided the trip would be to much for My faithful dog "Bert". He has a bad hip and 649 miles one way would be to much for Him and I couldn't bear leaving Him with strangers. My seat will be empty if anyone wants to move up closer to the stage. Hopefully someone will get to use it. (section floor left center seat G6). It's been 85 days since My wife Barbara passed away. When I read of Ben's passing I couldn't help but get more depressed. I couldn't help but think of the first time my wife bought us front row PIT seats. They were for "The Machine in Head Tour" at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center on 8/15/2000. We were sitting directly in front of Ben and I was just amazed seeing Him play close up like that. I got a chance to chat with Ben, Rick Rosas, and Larry Cragg one brisk sunny morning in Kingston Ontario on 4/13/2009. They were out for a morning walk on a side street near the Holiday Inn. They were all grateious enough to sign my ticket envelope. I've been getting through the loss of my wife by keeping busy but my 56 year old body tires out much faster than my mind. The only sense I can make out of why LOVE has got to hurt so bad is so We apprieciate that place that We can't see but that our departed Loved ones can. Sincerely, Love Doug

At 7/30/2010 01:22:00 AM, Anonymous BigChief said...

Although I never met Ben, I always had the impression that he was a very lovely gentle man. Never one to seek center stage, content in playing his role as a supporting musician even further exemplified that impression. A true humble man, probably oblivious to the reality that he was esteemed so highly amongst Neil's fans. They were truly his fans as well. I get the sense that he would probably be embarrassed by all of this adulation that is pouring in as a result of his passing. His love and admiration for Neil was evident in interviews such as the one during 'Heart Of Gold' and many others where he seemed to always give high praise and reverance to Neil while seemingly uncomfortable when the conversation would turn toward his accomplishments. While its unanimously established that he was the greatest pedal steel/slide guitarist that ever lived, that quality alone would have been meaningless apart from his loyalty and gentle spirit that never threatened to outshine, but rather compliment those whom he played with. Just the right amount of notes in all the right places, yet when Neil said "take it, Ben", man, could he ever soar!The closest I came to experiencing the warmth of his personality was at the Palace of Auburn Hills for the C.S.N.&Y 'Freedom Of Speech' tour when my brother and myself had front row seats directly in front of Ben as he played guitar during an extended encore of 'Rocking In The Free World'. He appeared to be having a ball up there and I kept giving him the 'thumbs-up'and eventually got his attention to where he actually made eye contact with me and the feeling at that point was "when is this song gonna end"?. It had several false stops and starts and seemed to go on forever. That was the high point of the show for me, the fact that he actually smiled and made eye contact with us. You could just sense that he was sincerely a 'regular' kind of guy rather than some snobby rock star type. And if there were yet any doubts, as the song finally came to an end and the band began to exit the stage,he actually approached the edge of the stage and tossed me his guitar pick! If Heaven has internet access and if your browsing the web tonight,I just want to thank you for what may have seemed to be just a simple gesture on your behalf, to me its now a memory that I will cherish until the day comes when I can thank you in person, Mr. Keith.

At 7/30/2010 01:36:00 AM, Anonymous Mr Henry said...

Hey Doug,

Just wanted to say that I think you are a really great guy and a shining example of how nice people can sometimes be. As a fellow dog lover, I salute your decision to love Bert and respect his comfort, even over your own wishes and desires. Please give him a special pat and a belly rub for me!

My dog is on the couch right now, maybe two feet from where I'm sitting and typing this. He's pretty much a twin of Neil's dog Carl (total coincidence or serendipity...honest to God!), but maybe fifteen pounds heavier and a couple years older. Dogs are probably the most Zen animals in the world...but Cats are a close second. I'll send a picture sometime soon.....

It's just so very nice and heartfelt what you have to say to Neil and Ben's friends and family...thank you so much for sharing and for being so open with your thoughts and feelings. Your wife Barbara sounds like such a wonderful person, and the love that you still have for her comes shining through every time you post a comment. When I think of the two of you, I think of Carl and Ellie and the sublime opening scene from the movie Up...seems like the two of you just had such a wonderful life together. I have lost many loved ones over the past half century, but I can only begin to feel your pain and loss.

I'm going to say "so long" for now, but I'm sure that we'll talk again sometime soon. And remember, you're innocent when you dream. Take care, my friend...and keep on the sunny side of life...I'm sure that you will.

At 7/30/2010 04:15:00 AM, Blogger Stringman said...

Another nice story about Ben Keith here


At 7/30/2010 11:08:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ansewered my own question.Forgot about the biography on the Prairie Wind DVD.Ben did indeed play on Terry Reid's Seed of Memory album.GREAT stuff.Good lord Ben left behind a HUGE body of work.

Rancho Relaxo

At 7/30/2010 11:09:00 AM, Blogger Sandy said...

It's sad Ben has died. He'll be missed by his community. It's nice he leaves the great sound and music. Got to stand just off stage left near him playing for Pegi at Big Sur (Henry Miller Library). He came off on my side and I always regretted not having a flashlight to help him walk behind the stage over the roots in the dark. He was quiet and gentle, as were the others. It's a fun story and was my treat to be so close to him playing and shake his hand. Have a nice photo souvenir of him playing.
Yeah, Albuquerque, that was my introduction to the pedal steel guitar sound. Great.

At 7/30/2010 03:17:00 PM, Anonymous Keith Burris said...

Thrasher, do you have an intern or volunteer who can assemble all these beautiful tributes to Ben Keith for his family?

God bless Ben Keith and all his loved ones and extended musical family, including Neil Young.

All who were touched by this gentle man's musicianship and humanity were privileged.And we are grateful.

At 7/30/2010 04:51:00 PM, Anonymous Mr Henry said...

Great article about Ben...thanks Stringman! As the old saying goes, "Still waters run deep", and it seems like Ben had some incredible depth along with his warmth and kindness.

Thanks Big Chief and Sandy for your personal stories about Ben. Sometimes the most profound experiences can happen in just these ways. Good for you!

I had a very similar thing happen when I met Brian Wilson a couple years back at a rare in-store appearance. Limited to 100 or so, had to get wristbands before, and I got stuck at work and was the last one there. He was starting to leave and looked like he definitely wanted to. But when I said "Thank you so much Brian", he seemed to know exactly what I meant, gave me a huge smile and said "You're very welcome". It was an incredible brief encounter and I think of this whenever I look at my autographed Pet Sounds LP.

So really, the magic is all in the moment. And Ben provided many, many such moments for an awful lot of people.

At 7/31/2010 12:46:00 AM, Anonymous Rose K. from Pittsburgh said...

What a SHOCK!! I still can't believe it!

My heartfelt condolences to his family, friends, Neil, Pegi, and all who knew and loved him. How terribly sad!

Rest in peace, Ben, and THANK YOU VERY MUCH for the beautiful sounds you gave us.

At 7/31/2010 04:30:00 AM, Blogger Shadow said...

Thought some of you might like to know it is a Ben Keith weekend on RUST Radio . LOt of International Harvestors and 2000 Family and Friends and the 2008 concerts so far . Have a great weekend Thrasher thanks for your site .

The Searcher in Michigan

At 7/31/2010 07:16:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here`s an extract from an article on the Planet Rock (UK) site -

`Onstage in 1973 Young introduced Keith to the crowd saying, “I swear to God, I love every sound he makes, no matter what the f*** it is.” `

(The full article is at - )

Who would have guessed back then that Ben and Neil would have such a wonderfully long collaboration and friendahip ahead of them. I`ve been listening to Prairie Wind this morning and savoring once again all those beautifully moving songs, given an extra layer and depth of emotion by Ben`s melancholic playing, especially on The Painter. Now tinged with an added poignancy.

Great comments as always from Mr Henry, Doug, Big Chief, ShittyHorse, Sandy, MNOTR, just to mention a few.

Neil, please take care, we`re all ready to walk with you along the next stretch of the twisted road.

Jill …

At 7/31/2010 11:11:00 AM, Anonymous Shu said...

SAYONARA, Ben.....

At 7/31/2010 01:04:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My kids & I loved him as grandpa in Greendale. I'm learning a lot reading about his remarkable carer. There gonna miss him on the Double E.

At 7/31/2010 02:17:00 PM, Anonymous SONY said...

by chance a friend pulled out Harvest last night.THAT is THE NEIL YOUNG country sound courtesy of Mr.Ben Keith. Where wwould we be without it?

At 7/31/2010 03:49:00 PM, Blogger Tim Clark said...

What an awful year. LA, Dennis and now Ben. RIP and thank you.

At 7/31/2010 08:16:00 PM, Anonymous Adam2 said...

Rest in peace Ben. You'll remain a true inspiration to beginner musicians like myself everywhere.

I've been listening to Ben's playing all week and have been compiling a list of other things he played on in the '70s:

Ben Keith – pedal steel, lap steel, dobro:

Tracy Nelson/Mother Earth –
“Country” 1969

“Satisfied” 1970
Tracks 1, 7

“Bring Me Home” 1971
Track 7

Ringo Starr –
“Beaucoups Of Blues” 1970
Probably tracks 1, 5, 6, 8-10, 13, 14

Charlie Daniels –
“Charlie Daniels” 1970
Tracks 4, 6

Bob Dylan –
“George Jackson” single 1971
Tracks 1, 2

Ian & Sylvia/Great Speckled Bird –
“You Were On My Mind” 1972
Only title track available

Bobby Charles –
“Bobby Charles” 1972
Tracks 7, 9, 12-14

Hungry Chuck –
“Hungry Chuck” 1972

Todd Rundgren –
“Something/Anything?” 1972
Disc 2, track 9

Steve Goodman –
“Steve Goodman” 1972
Tracks 3-10, 13

Chris Smither –
“Don’t Drag It On” 1972
Tracks 1, 6

The Band –
“Moondog Matinee” 1973
Track 6

Graham Nash –
“Wild Tales” 1973
Tracks 2, 4, 5, 9, 10

Terry Reid –
“Seed Of Memory” 1973
Track 3

Eric Von Schmidt –
“2nd Right, 3rd Row” 1973
Tracks 2, 4, 6

Bob Neuwirth –
“Bob Neuwirth” 1974
Probably tracks 2, 5, 6, 11

Emmylou Harris –
“Pieces Of The Sky” 1975
Tracks 2, 4, 7, 8

“Elite Hotel” 1975
Tracks 6, 7

“Blue Kentucky Girl” 1979
Track 7

Crosby & Nash –
“Wind On The Water” 1975
Probably tracks 5, 10

“Whistling Down The Wire” 1976
Probably track 2

Billy Joe Shaver –
“Gypsy Boy” 1977
Probably all tracks

Lonnie Mack –
“Lonnie Mack With Pismo” 1977
Track 4

Warren Zevon –
“Bad Luck Streak In Dancing School” 1980
Track 11

At 8/01/2010 05:50:00 AM, Blogger PEPE MURCIA said...

He visto varias veces “al mas grande” pero nunca con BEN KEITH . Tengo decenas de vídeos y grabaciones de NEIL YOUNG con uno de sus “hermanos” mas comprometido en dejar un legado simplemente maravilloso en esa frontera casi imposible que es la carrera musical del “dueño de la tormenta y señor de la calma” . Tecno , rockabilly , country , folk , punk…Nadie ha viajado con mas dignidad y valentía por el mundo de la música que NEIL y en ese hermoso viaje BEN KEITH fue un acompañante de lujo . No ha muerto , está en mi cabeza…sonando con ese aire añejo , cercano , sutil . Simple y hermoso . LLega el placer de lo sencillo , abridle las Puertas del Cielo .
PEPE MURCIA musician , producer songwriter( Spain , Europe , The World )

At 8/01/2010 09:37:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whoa Adam!
had No Idea on Ben's other musical inputs..Thanks for posting this

He certainly will be missed..if the amount of postings !(157) is a reflection on what Ben meant to everybody, Well...

just my opinion

At 8/01/2010 11:06:00 AM, Anonymous Joerg said...

RIP and thank you very much for all the great music. Will think of you every time I listen to a track you played on and think lots and lots of people will do so as well. You will live on in the memory of those you love you and your musical work.

At 8/01/2010 11:44:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I first saw the heading :
BEN KEITH 1937-2010 , I couldn't even open it. I sat there and kept saying to myself "No, not Ben ".
Although it's not something I ever thought about before,it is the first time I was truely and strongly affected by someone dying in Neils circle of friends/musicians.There was a thread in his music linking both sound and character, that made both very likeable. I focused on his music often and still rememebr the first time I listened to Harvest LP and Tonights the Night LP.I remember the WOW feeling.He added such a beautiful and unique level to one of Neil Yongs many sounds.The sound with Ben Keith was beyond amazing.Every note sticks in my mind forever and I imagine some of those songs without Ben, and even though many are great songs..they would be VERY different songs without Ben Keith.
Having sat in the first row a few times and the first few rows several times when he played with Neil, there was something beyond just the music. One could feeling his sincere love of the muse and his genuine humble character.When I saw him up close on stage, I knew he was a gentle giant of a man. I remember watching him walk on stage in Winnipeg on 2008 I think it was and I commented how cool it was to see him at 71 years old climbing the stairs to the stage in the dark with the aid of a flashlight.I remember thinking this guy is strong and will be around for as long time. So I am deeply saddened by the loss of Ben Keith.An irresplaceable musician.An irreplaceable man.
Best wishes to Bens family and Neil and anyone close to him who has to deal with this loss on a more personal level.

At 8/01/2010 06:39:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ben, on the spirit road. Ben was always there musically, and seemingly emotionally, for Neil....and for Neil's audience. He played sax in the Blue Notes...he was a Santa Monica Flyer...he assembled the Prairie Wind band for the Nashville concert...He was there for all but the Crazy Horse records and tours, which David Briggs (R.I.P.) produced. I'll miss you, Ben.

At 8/02/2010 12:09:00 AM, Anonymous Jon H. said...

Jon H. said...

This is a terrible loss.

Ben was a unique musician and we always kept an eye on him while playing with Neil during their wonderful musical collaborations.

I miss him already very much, and I didn't even know him. It was always fun to watch him work.

R.I.P. Ben.

At 8/02/2010 12:34:00 PM, Anonymous Mr Henry said...

Stopped in at the local Starbucks about an hour ago and Harvest Moon was playing as I bought my morning joe. Thinking of Ben....

Great discography from Adam2...thanks for putting that out there! Notice that Tracy Nelson is at the top of the list; I was not aware that Ben played on the Mother Earth album. I can remember when that was a staple on WBCN back in the days of the counterculture and underground radio ("now gather round kiddies and I'll tell you 'bout the good old days"). I saw Tracy perform once in the mid 70's at a blues festival...think she came on just before John Lee Hooker. Great performance as I recall, on a very hot, dusty and dry summer's afternoon.

Funny how interrelated things can sometimes be, especially in the music world. I was at a Trad Jazz festival yesterday in CT, one that my dad used to love and volunteer for. The highlight of the day for me was a performance by Louis Ford and His New Orleans Jazz Flairs. It was their last set before heading to the airport to fly back home, and the band members were all in a fine mood. The trombone player is a new dad, and everyone in the audience congratulated him on that.

During a song intro, Louis spoke about his father, who was the great musician Clarence Ford. Clarence played on many, many songs and albums that we've all heard and probably take a little bit for granted sometimes. Louis said his dad played with Fats Domino for 27 years and plays the solo on Blue Monday along with lots of other classic songs (e.g. I think he's also the sax player on Walkin' to New Orleans). And then they played a perfect version of Blueberry Hill, with everyone in the audience singing along. Louis told the audience that he is also a teacher in New Orleans and that school is starting today, so right now he's probably in his classroom with a bunch of new students...those are some lucky kids!

So just now I'm doing some checking on the internet at and I see a discography with a partial listing of songs and albums that Clarence Ford played on. Sure enough, one of the performers listed is Tracy Nelson. Like another Louis sings, "What a Wonderful World".

At 8/02/2010 01:00:00 PM, Anonymous Mr Henry said...

Sorry to add another comment so soon, but I just had a rather incredible coincidence happen. I had just signed off and clicked "Publish" on my last note. A couple minutes or so after that, I realize there's a song starting to play somewhere and I can just barely hear it. I think "hey, that sounds familiar" and at first it seems to be coming from a neighbor's house. I go to check upstairs and there's a DVD that's been left to run on the TV in my son's room (he has a habit of doing that).

It's a snowboarding video and the credits are playing at the end. The song that's playing is Joey Ramone...and it's his wonderful version of "What a Wonderful World"...somehow playing right after I had just used that for my closing comment. Like they say, you can't make this stuff up.

I often have these types of coincidences occur...not sure why. But as I was just saying, it is funny how interrelated things can sometimes be (or at least seem to be).

At 8/03/2010 05:39:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

a l a b a m e !

At 8/03/2010 05:45:00 PM, Anonymous schulz said...

a l a b a m e !

At 8/04/2010 11:47:00 AM, Blogger JHepCat "72" said...

RIP Ben, Just found out. One of the greatest musicians I've ever shared an aural landscape with. Some of the most beautiful sounds I've ever heard. When I saw that Neil was playing Words on tour in 2000, I went to two shows, had to be there for that. And Albuquerque is as haunting as it gets. Ben you will be missed. My deepest condolences to Neil, Pegi, Heidi, all those fortunate enough to actually know Ben. I feel incredibly fortunate to have been in the room when he was playing on several occasions, as well as all those recorded moments we can all cherish as long as we may live, and our descendants after us.

RIP Ben Keith. You are missed, and will be.

And Thank You, Ben.

At 8/10/2010 08:07:00 PM, Blogger July Archives said...

Neil has lost another great friend and band member .Claire and i wish to say how he will be missed both musically and we are sure by his family and friends. He is sure to be out there now riding the prairie wind

At 8/11/2010 12:01:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm a big fan, used to work with bert jansch during the mid-nineties, was always a neil young fan, ben's music was terrific - great feel - always play an arrangement of this tune when friends pass over - a friend (a big rustie) suggested i should post a link here - would like to dedicate it to his memory (along with the memory of all those others) hope you like it - it's the first track, first started plying it when thelate great davy graham died last january - it had been on hte shelf since 1993

At 8/12/2010 03:53:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here i found this little tribute to Ben Keith on YouTube:

Greetings from Germany,

At 8/13/2010 06:47:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just saw the sad news today. Words cannot say how I feel. My thoughts are with you, Neil

At 8/17/2010 12:42:00 PM, Anonymous Cherie Ann Munster said...

Still to the day so sad. I miss my personal best friend. Thanks to Neil, Pegi, Rick along with all at the Ranch that made the last years the best times of his life. My dear friend was to meet me for the Gulf Coast Tour. We have been talking about sharing all the talents along the Gulf Coast for the last 5 years. IP Casino, is the up coming venue his was surprizing me with. I just found out. May we all listen to his tracks amoung the tunes. Miss & Love You, My Friend..Cherie Ann Munster

At 8/19/2010 04:23:00 PM, Blogger Gauthier said...

I don't really know what to say... I've had the great happiness to see Neil Young's band live 4 times in the past two years, and each time I was enlightened not only by Neil Young himself, but also by all these great men sharing the stage with him.

I'll really miss Ben and his huge talent! I just feel like an entire world start sinking, a world that I'm too young to have take part of, but too old to ignore.

I'm really feeling blue tonight...

All my thoughts to his family, and friends obviously!

At 8/21/2010 06:18:00 PM, Anonymous David Wilson said...

I write and play, like lots of folks. Been playing and listening for a long time now. Mr. Young writes and sings of the ordinary in a not ordinary way; Mr. Keith played the ordinary in a not ordinary way. It all sounds so natural and always listens well. I like it. I regret not witnessing them play together; watching and hearing them make their art together. I am grateful for the recordings. Why do I miss a man I never met in person? I wonder if Mr. Keith knew that his playing would speak to so many? He was part of a music that said what a lot of folks thought and felt and wanted to say. Mr. Keith's musicianship transcended "chops" and technique, and took us all into the heart of the song, where we write the words and know the feelings, right along with the singer. I guess that's why I will miss him so much; He did not play and sing at me, he played and sang with me. We all did this together, not separated by a stage or a studio, or a stereo; It has made a difference. Blessings to all of his family, and to Mr. Young for choosing Mr. Keith as a fellow painter and poet, so many years ago. David Wilson
Springfield Missouri

At 11/20/2011 12:48:00 AM, Blogger meltdownman said...

What a beautiful contribution to this world this man has made. A true poet with the pedal steel guitar.

With his passing a piece of me has died inside.

The Meltdownman

At 11/20/2011 12:50:00 AM, Blogger meltdownman said...

What a beautiful contribution to this world this man has made. And with his passing a piece of me has died inside.

The Meltdownman

At 3/25/2013 12:06:00 PM, Anonymous Holylandpirates said...

Met Ben at a Danko Solo show in Delray Beach FL.
He was sitting at the bar right next to me when Rick said we got some old friends here tonite and pointed at US.
They had a sitdown and BK was gone before Ricks last set.
Drummer for Crazy Fingers/JGB2 Pete was outside after show.
RIP Ben Keith and Rick Danko.


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Summer 2013 Europe Tour

Europe Summer 2014 Concert Tour
Neil Young & Crazy Horse

Thrasher's Wheat Radio Supporters Go To Europe

Neil Young Films

2010 MusiCares Honors Neil Young

Features Elvis Costello, Crosby Stills & Nash, Sheryl Crow, Josh Groban, Ben Harper, Elton John, Norah Jones, Lady Antebellum, Dave Matthews, James Taylor, Keith Urban, and others.
Proceeds from sales go to MusiCares,
which helps musicians in need of
financial and medical assistance.


"There's more to the picture
Than meets the eye"



Neil Young FAQ:
Everything Left to Know About the Iconic and Mercurial Rocker
"an indispensable reference"

Paul McCartney and Neil Young


"You can make a difference
If you really a try"

John Lennon and Neil Young

"hailed by fans as a wonderful read"

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young:
The Supergroup of the 20th Century

Director Jonathan Demme's Exquisite film "Heart of Gold"

eddie & neil
Eddie Vedder and Neil Young

Revisiting The Significance of
The Buffalo Springfield

"The revolution will not be televised"
... it will be blogged, streamed,
tweeted, shared and liked
The Embarrassment of Mainstream Media

Turn Off Your TV & Have A Life

"Everything Is Bullshit" +
"Turn Off The News"
Turn Off the News (Build a Garden)

Neil Young 2016 Year in Review:
The Year of The Wheat

Kurt Cobain
Kurt Cobain and Neil Young

Neil Young's Feedback:
An Acquired Taste?

Young Neil: The Sugar Mountain Years
by Rustie Sharry "Keepin' Jive Alive in T.O." Wilson

"the definitive source of Neil Young's formative childhood years in Canada"

neil & joni
Joni Mitchell & Neil Young

europe 1987.jpg

Bob and Neil

So Who Really Was "The Godfather of Grunge"?

Four Dead in Ohio
kent state
So What Really Happened at Kent State?

The Four Dead in Ohio

May The FOUR Be With You #MayThe4thBeWithYou


dissent is not treason
Dissent is the highest form of patriotism

Rockin' In The Free World

Sing Truth to Power!
When Neil Young Speaks Truth To Power,
The World Listens

Emmylou Harris and Neil Young

Wilco and Neil Young


Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young


Elton John and Neil Young

Lynyrd Skynyrd and Neil Young


The Meaning of "Sweet Home Alabama" Lyrics

Neil Young Nation -
"The definitive Neil Young fan book"

What does the song mean?

Random Neil Young Link of the Moment

Bonnie Raitt and Neil Young

I'm Proud to Be A Union Man


When Neil Young is Playing,
You Shut the Fuck Up

Class War:
They Started It and We'll Finish It...

A battle raged on the open page...
No Fear, No Surrender. Courage

"What if Al Qaeda blew up the levees?"
Full Disclousre Now

"I've Got The Revolution Blues"

Willie Nelson & Neil Young
Willie Nelson for Nobel Peace Prize

John Mellencamp:
Why Willie Deserves a Nobel



Love and Only Love

"Thinking about what a friend had said,
I was hoping it was a lie"

We're All On
A Journey Through the Past

Neil Young's Moon Songs
Tell Us The F'n TRUTH
(we can handle it... try us)

Does Anything Else Really Matter?

"Nobody's free until everybody's free."
~~ Fannie Lou Hamer

Here Comes "The Big Shift"

Maybe everything you think you know is wrong? NOTHING IS AS IT SEEMS
"It's all illusion anyway."

Propaganda = Mind Control
Guess what?
"Symbols Rule the World, not Words or Laws."
... and symbolism will be their downfall...

Brighter Planet's 350 Challenge
Be The Rain, Be The Change

the truth will set you free
This Machine Kills Fascists

"Children of Destiny" - THE Part of THE Solution

(Frame from Official Music Video)

war is not the answer
yet we are
Still Living With War

"greed is NOT good"
Hey Big Brother!
Stop Spying On Us!
Civic Duty Is Not Terrorism

The Achilles Heel
Orwell (and Grandpa) Was Right
“Emancipate yourself from mental slavery.”
~~ Bob Marley

The Essence of "The Doubters"

Yes, There's Definitely A Hole in The Sky

Even Though The Music Died 50+ Years Ago
Open Up the "Tired Eyes" & Wake up!
"consciousness is near"
What's So Funny About
Peace, Love, & Understanding & Music?


Show Me A Sign

"Who is John Galt?"
To ask the question is to know the answer

"Whosoever shall give up his liberty for a temporary security
deserves neither liberty nor safety."

~~ Benjamin Franklin


(Between the lines of age)

And in the end, the love you take
Is equal to the love you make

~~ John & Paul

the zen of neil
the power of rust
the karma of the wheat