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List of Famous Session Musicians

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Updated June 8, 2017 19.7k views 204 items

List of famous session musicians, with photos, bios, and other information when available. Who are the top session musicians in the world? This includes the most prominent session musicians, living and dead, both in America and abroad. This list of notable session musicians is ordered by their level of prominence, and can be sorted for various bits of information, such as where these historic session musicians were born and what their nationality is. The people on this list are from different countries, but what they all have in common is that they're all renowned session musicians.

Items include everything from Willie Nelson to Josh Freese.

From reputable, prominent, and well known session musicians to the lesser known session musicians of today, these are some of the best professionals in the session musician field. If you want to answer the questions, "Who are the most famous session musicians ever?" and "What are the names of famous session musicians?" then you're in the right place. (204 items)
Willie Nelson is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list List of Famous Session Musicians
Willie Hugh Nelson (born April 29, 1933) is an American singer, songwriter, musician, actor, producer, author, poet, and activist. The critical success of the album Shotgun Willie (1973), ...more

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Phil Spector is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list List of Famous Session Musicians
Phillip Harvey Spector (born Harvey Phillip Spector, December 26, 1939) is an American record producer, musician, and songwriter who developed the Wall of Sound, a music production formula he ...more

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#807 of 2,040 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #1,290 of 1,471 The Greatest Minds of All Time #61 of 115 Celebrities You Wouldn't Want as Neighbors

Ricky Skaggs is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list List of Famous Session Musicians
Rickie Lee Skaggs (born July 18, 1954), known professionally as Ricky Skaggs, is an American country and bluegrass singer, musician, producer, and composer. He primarily plays mandolin; however, ...more

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The Best Ricky Skaggs Albums of All Time #27 of 332 The Top Country Artists of All Time #31 of 214 The Best Male Country Singers of All Time

Nicky Hopkins is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list List of Famous Session Musicians
Nicholas Christian Hopkins (24 February 1944 – 6 September 1994) was an English pianist and organist. Hopkins recorded and performed on many notable British and American pop and rock music ...more
Jeff Porcaro is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list List of Famous Session Musicians
Jeffrey Thomas Porcaro (; April 1, 1954 – August 5, 1992) was an American drummer, songwriter, and record producer. In a career that spanned more than 20 years, Porcaro was best known for his ...more

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#1,493 of 2,040 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #17 of 575 The Best Drummers Of All Time #167 of 205 Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely

Michael Kamen is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list List of Famous Session Musicians
Michael Arnold Kamen (April 15, 1948 – November 18, 2003) was an American composer (especially of film scores), orchestral arranger, orchestral conductor, songwriter, and session musician.

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#40 of 67 The Best Modern Composers, Ranked #33 of 183 The Best Film Score Composers #31 of 32 32 Famous People with MS

Gackt is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list List of Famous Session Musicians
Gakuto Oshiro (大城 ガクト, Ōshiro Gakuto, born July 4, 1973), better known by his mononymous stage name Gackt, is a Japanese musician, singer, songwriter, record producer and actor. Born in Okinawa, ...more
Ry Cooder is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list List of Famous Session Musicians
Ryland Peter "Ry" Cooder (born March 15, 1947) is an American musician, songwriter, film score composer and record producer. He is a multi-instrumentalist but is best known for his ...more

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Brian Blade is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list List of Famous Session Musicians
Brian Blade (born July 25, 1970) is an American jazz drummer, composer, session musician, and singer-songwriter.

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#231 of 575 The Best Drummers Of All Time #38 of 226 Famous Jazz Drummers

Malcolm McNab is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list List of Famous Session Musicians
Malcolm Boyd McNab is a trumpeter and player of other brass instruments, and a Los Angeles-based session musician who has performed on nearly 2000 film and television soundtracks.
Chet Atkins is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list List of Famous Session Musicians
Chester Burton Atkins (June 20, 1924 – June 30, 2001), known as "Mr. Guitar" and "The Country Gentleman", was an American musician, occasional vocalist, songwriter, and ...more

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Buddy Harman is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list List of Famous Session Musicians
Murrey Mizell "Buddy" Harman, Jr. (December 23, 1928 – August 21, 2008) was an American country music session musician.
Earl Palmer is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list List of Famous Session Musicians
Earl Cyril Palmer (October 25, 1924 – September 19, 2008) was an American rock and roll and rhythm-and-blues drummer. He is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.Palmer played on many ...more

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#196 of 575 The Best Drummers Of All Time #479 of 525 Which Artist Would You Bring Back From The Dead To Write One More Song? #79 of 226 Famous Jazz Drummers

Larrie Londin is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list List of Famous Session Musicians
Ralph Gallant (October 15, 1943 − August 24, 1992), better known by the stage name Larrie Londin, was an American drummer and session musician.
Peter Erskine is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list List of Famous Session Musicians
Peter Erskine (born June 5, 1954) is an American jazz drummer who was a member of the jazz fusion groups Weather Report and Steps Ahead.

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#93 of 575 The Best Drummers Of All Time #171 of 226 Famous Jazz Drummers

Josh Freese is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list List of Famous Session Musicians
Joshua Ryan Freese (born December 25, 1972) is an American session drummer, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and composer. He is the son of tuba soloist Stan Freese and the older brother of ...more

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#51 of 575 The Best Drummers Of All Time #102 of 119 The Best Musical Artists From Florida

Steve Gadd is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list List of Famous Session Musicians
Stephen Kendall Gadd (born April 9, 1945) is an American drummer, percussionist, and session musician. Gadd is one of the most well-known and highly regarded session and studio drummers in the ...more

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#9 of 575 The Best Drummers Of All Time #68 of 252 The Very Best Jazz Musicians & Artists #198 of 226 Famous Jazz Drummers

Jesse Ed Davis is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list List of Famous Session Musicians
Jesse Edwin Davis (September 21, 1944 – June 22, 1988) was a Native American guitarist. He was well regarded as a session artist and solo performer, was a member of the band Taj Mahal and played ...more
Russ Kunkel is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list List of Famous Session Musicians
Russell Kunkel (born September 27, 1948) is an American drummer and producer who has worked as a session musician with many popular artists, including Linda Ronstadt, James Taylor, Jimmy ...more

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#152 of 575 The Best Drummers Of All Time #5 of 15 Carly Simon Loves and Hookups

Jim Keltner is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list List of Famous Session Musicians
James Lee Keltner (born April 27, 1942) is an American drummer known primarily for his session work. He was characterized by Bob Dylan biographer Howard Sounes as "the leading session ...more
Marc Benno is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list List of Famous Session Musicians
Marc Benno is a singer-songwriter and musician.
Dave Mason is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list List of Famous Session Musicians
David Thomas Mason (born 10 May 1946) is an English singer-songwriter and guitarist from Worcester, who first found fame with the rock band Traffic. Over the course of his career, Mason has ...more

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Hal Blaine is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list List of Famous Session Musicians
Hal Blaine (born Harold Simon Belsky; February 5, 1929 – March 11, 2019) was an American drummer and session musician estimated to be among the most recorded studio drummers in the history of ...more

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#103 of 575 The Best Drummers Of All Time #109 of 151 Celebrities Who Died In 2019 #14 of 25 Musicians Who Died in 2019

Jack Nitzsche is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list List of Famous Session Musicians
Bernard Alfred Nitzsche (22 April 1937 – 25 August 2000), known professionally as Jack Nitzsche, was an American musician, arranger, songwriter, composer and record producer. He first came to ...more
Kim Richmond is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list List of Famous Session Musicians
Kim Richmond
Kim Richmond is an American jazz saxophonist and composer. Richmond played piano, clarinet, and saxophone when young, and made his professional debut in 1956. He studied at the University of ...more