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Jim Horn
Jim Horn

(One of the most respected horn players of his generation, he began his career in the early '60s when Duane Eddy discovered him and took him on the road to play sax. It was through Eddy that he was introduced to the Los Angeles session scene, and like so many of the other players on Beach Boys dates, this LA. native's resume reads like a "who's who" of rock history. During his career, he has recorded with such hit-making artists as The Mamas and Papas, The Fifth Dimension, Delaney & Bonnie, Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne, John Lennon, Linda Ronstadt, Barbra Streisand, Steely Dan, the Rolling Stones and John Denver. You can hear him stepping out front on hits like Toto's "Rosanna," Elton John's "Little Jeannie," Neil Sedaka's "Laughter In The Rain," Smokey Robinson's "Tears Of A Clown" and the stacked triple flute solo on Canned Heat's "Going Up The Country."

In the mid-1980s, he moved to Nashville, and during the last decade, he's played with virtually all the country superstars including Garth Brooks, Dolly Parton, EmmyLou Harris, Johnny Cash, Alan Jackson, George Strait and Wynonna. More recently, he has recorded with Tom Petty, the Traveling Wilburys (as a "Sidebury) and on U-2's Rattle and Hum. Jim has also been part of many historic concerts, touring as one of Joe Cocker's Mad Dogs & Englishmen and leading the horn section at The Concert For Bangla Desh. In the early 1970s, he began recording under his own name, and all told, he's recorded five solo albums including his personal favorite, 1988's Work It Out (which features members of Toto, Steve Cropper, Tom Petty and many other special guests).


JIM: "I remember when we were working with Phil Spector, Brian used to come and hang out at Gold Star and watch. Later on, when we started working on his sessions, he always seemed to be different from anybody else who came along.

"First of all, Brian was brilliant as a songwriter. And a session with Brian was always a treat because we didn't know what to expect. We admired him as a great musician and he was fun to be around, a funny person, very jovial. Between he and Hal Blaine, they kept the jokes coming.

'When he came in for a session, sometimes, he would have some music paper, and he would dictate what he wanted us to do, and we [the woodwinds and brass] would sketch out the parts ourselves. He didn't walk in with arrangements, but he knew what he wanted to hear. For example, he would ask me if I had a piccolo, a flute or a bass saxophone. When we played for Brian, we would be sure we brought all these different instruments to the session because we didn't know what he would ask for next. He might say, 'Does anybody have a real low-sounding sax or a high-sounding flute?' If you did, he would sit you down and tell you to play this line. We would learn it, write it down.

"As for getting the feel, Brian just was one of those timekeepers in his head. He really had the rhythm in his brain and knew how he wanted it to feel. We didn't have click tracks; you had to lock right into the pocket. He made sure everybody felt that with him.

"Those sessions for Pet Sounds seemed different from other Beach Boys dates I had done. I remember when he sat down at the piano and played 'God Only Knows' and 'Good Vibrations.' You could see in his face...he would bend his head to one side and close his eyes. We knew it was coming from his heart. We could tell that. He was spiritual.

"When we played on 'Good Vibrations' we thought, 'This guy is really out there.' He was exceptional at that time nobody was writing like he was, doing things like he was. With the Mamas and Papas, John Phillips would run down the whole song at the guitar. He would cut a track, and then we would overdub the horns. At that time with Brian, he would come in with his head arrangements and ideas and not have the whole song in mind. He was concentrating on certain parts of the song...we were doing songs in sections...maybe spend a half a day on an intro. Next session, we might work on the verse. Sometimes, he would put it together and we would play the whole thing. I remember when he had the Theremin in there. Brian tried to play it. He couldn't so he let the guy who brought it play it.

"I always thought of him as extraordinary, more so than anybody else we ever worked with. Jose Feliciano, whoever, they all knew what they were going to record. He was like this genius who comes walking in with all these ideas and overdubs. Why he did it that way, we don't know. That's the way he wanted to do it. It's like painting a picture-- you start with your blues, go with your greens and then your reds. You don't throw all your colors in all at once. He would sit back and listen, foresaw what he was gonna get and took his time putting it together.

"Another thing that was different about Beach Boys dates is that they weren't there. If you went into a Mamas & Papas sessions, they would all be there. On Spector's sessions, the Righteous Brothers or Tina Turner would come in and sing in that little booth behind us. We would usually meet the artist and get to hang out with everybody. But Brian came in as the backbone of the group.

"Whenever anybody asks me what my favorite album I played on was, and I say Pet Sounds, people's ears go up. 'You played on Pet Sounds? Which cuts?' And then when I say I played on 'Good Vibrations.' Well, they get pretty excited.

"I remember buying Pet Sounds when it came out. I thought that was one of the best albums he had ever done. It seemed to be a lot more intellectual as far as music, the structure of the songs. And the sound was incredible...that was one of the reasons it went over so big with musicians.

"I can sit down and really say I loved working on the Traveling Wilburys. When I go back and think of everything I like, I kind of keep them equal. But there are certain records you remember when you hear them on the radio. And when people ask, I always mention Pet Sounds."

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