My first session was with Keltner with Jack Dougherty. It was a rehearsal band, and Hal Blaine was the drummer, and then the contractor called to see if I wanted to do the rehearsal band on Saturdays.
I did about five of them. I knew they were planning to do a record, and they stopped calling me for rehearsals, so I figured they were going to use a studio guy for the album. Then Dougherty called me and asked if I had ever heard of a drummer named Keltner. At that time, my biggest heroes were Keltner and Gordon. I said yes, and he said, "He just got off the road with Joe Cocker, and you and he are going to do the rehearsal band for a couple of weeks. So we rehearsed a couple of times before the session.
I was 17 and didn't even have my driver's license, so my mom drove me to the session at A&M. I borrowed my dad's black diamond pearl Ludwig set, which was just like Keltner's, because I wanted to be just like him: I wore a vest like Jim Keltner, I tried to get the heaviest boots I could, because like everyone else has said, you just wanted to emulate your heroes. Just before I got through the door, I was so nervous, I threw up right in the corner.
Thank God the tune was this uptempo samba, because my stick was going so fast. I remember Jim sits down next to me, and he looks over to me and says, "Man, do you read?" I go, "No," and he said, "I don't read that good either, you do the fills and I'll just keep time." I'm going "Right!"