Born James Ronald Horn, 20 November 1940, Los Angeles, California
With all due respect for Plas Johnson, Boots Randolph and Lee Allen, the most recorded saxophonist in popular music is probably Jim Horn. With a name like Horn, it was appropriate that Jim would take up the sax as his first instrument. He began performing before crowds at dances at his own junior high school. While still in school in L.A., he started to get gigs at local nightclubs, sitting in with whatever band would welcome him. Horn mentions Clifford Scott and Hank Crawford as his principal influences. In 1958 he briefly joined Kip Tyler and the Flips, one of the pioneering rock 'n' roll bands in Los Angeles. Their sax player, Steve Douglas, had defected to Duane Eddy's Rebels, and Horn became his replacement. He made his recording debut with "Rumble Rock"/"She's My Witch", recorded in the fall of 1958 (Ebb 154) and credited to Kip Tyler.
In late March 1959, Jim got a call from Duane Eddy. After completing the "Especially For You" album, Steve Douglas announced that he wanted to leave Duane and he recommended Horn as his successor. Jim flew to Phoenix, Arizona for an audition, which he passed with flying colours. He quit high school and, for the second time, Horn replaced Douglas. In the end, Duane Eddy would recruit no less than five band members from Kip Tyler's Flips (though not all at the same time) : apart from Douglas and Horn also Mike Bernani (drums), Larry Knechtel (piano) and Jimmy Troxel (drums).
Horn would stay with Duane for five years, playing both on the road and in the studio. The first Duane Eddy sessions that he played on are those for the "The Twang's the Thang" LP in November 1959. Horn played flute as well as sax on the album. It is doubtful if anyone noticed at the time that Duane had a new saxophonist. I certainly didn't. There's not much difference between the sounds of Steve Douglas and Jim Horn. Not until much later did I learn that Duane (or rather his producer, Lee Hazlewood) used four different sax players on his early Jamie recordings : Plas Johnson, Gil Bernal, Steve Douglas and Jim Horn. Duane Eddy hits with Jim on sax include "Shazam!", "Kommotion", "Pepe", "Theme From Dixie","Ring Of Fire", "Deep In the Heart Of Texas" (with Plas Johnson on second sax) and "Dance With the Guitar Man".
Like many musicians before him, Horn grew tired of touring and decided to leave Duane's backing group in 1964. Though he would still occasionally play on stage, he chose to concentrate on studio work, of which there was plenty in Los Angeles in the 1960s. He would become a member of what was later dubbed "The Wrecking Crew", a loose aggregation of highly professional West Coast session men. It didn't take long before famous artists were asking for Jim Horn by name and allowed him solo spots on some of their tunes. For a list of his credits see http://www.artistdirect.com/artist/credits/jim-horn/445525-1 This is just the first of seven web pages and far from complete (for instance, I saw no mention there of his work with Sandy Nelson, The Routers and several other instrumental acts from the 1960s).
The list reads like a Who's who of popular music. To mention just a few of the biggest hits on which Jim can be heard on either sax or flute : "You've Lost That Lovin Feeling'" (Righteous Brothers), "California Dreamin'" (The Mamas and the Papas, Horn plays the flute solo), "River Deep, Mountain High" (Ike & Tina Turner), "Good Vibrations", the "Pet Sounds" LP (Beach Boys), "Strangers In the Night" (Frank Sinatra), "Up Up And Away", "The Age Of Aquarius" (Fifth Dimension), "My Sweet Lord", "Concert For Bangla Desh", "Got My Mind Set On You" (George Harrison), "Take Me Home Country Roads" (John Denver), "Summer Breeze" (Seals & Crofts), "Going Up the Country" (Canned Heat), "Tears Of A Clown" (Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, piccolo), "I Am Woman" (Helen Reddy), "For All We Know" (Carpenters), "Laughter in the Rain" (Neil Sedaka), "You Are So Beautiful" (Joe Cocker), etc. etc.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Horn remained one of the most in-demand session players. His solo debut LP was "Through the Eyes Of A Horn" (1972) and since then he has recorded seven further solo albums, including a Beatles Tribute CD (Horn has worked with all four Beatles individually). At the time of writing (June 2009), Jim Horn is still active in the studio, albeit on a more modest scale.
Acknowledgements : All Music Guide (Charlotte Dillon).
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