Next time you watch a television performance by an internationally successful solo artist, take your eyes off the star for a moment and check out the people in the band. A few top-name solo acts will have a permanent band, but most backing bands will be staffed by session musicians.
As you watch them play you’ll notice several differences between these players and those who play regularly with the same band. The session players will often look neater, tidier, fitter and certainly more relaxed than the average band member, and the reasons for this are many. The main reason though is that unlike the regular members of an established band, who have been together since school and who have seen the hardship of the road, who have fallen in and out of love with each other and whose individual careers might not stand any great chance were the band to split, the session musicians have a life outside any given band they might find themselves with.
Successful session musicians (and in the term session musician we include session singers) go to sleep at night having done a job of work they know they’ll be paid for. They get up in the morning in their own homes and set off for work (wherever that might be that day) just like anyone else. And they go to work because they’ve been asked for—sometimes by a band or singer, a fixer (see below) or a producer. They play because they love playing; they get the chance to play with a wide range of different people and, if they don’t like a particular producer, band or singer, they can say ‘no’. They also don’t suffer the