Don Heffington

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Don Heffington
Born(1950-12-20)December 20, 1950
Los Angeles, California
DiedMarch 24, 2021(2021-03-24) (aged 70)
Los Angeles, California
GenresRock music, Americana music
InstrumentsDrums, guitar
Years active1970–2021
Associated actsLone Justice, Watkins Family Hour

Don Heffington (December 20, 1950 – March 24, 2021)[1] was an American drummer, percussionist, and songwriter. He was a founding member of the Los Angeles alternative country band Lone Justice, which he performed with from 1982 to 1985. Heffington was also a member of the bluegrass band Watkins Family Hour, recorded three solo albums, and was a session and touring musician for various artists, including Lowell George, Bob Dylan, Emmylou Harris, Jackson Browne, Victoria Williams, the Wallflowers, the Jayhawks, and Joanna Newsom.

Early life[edit]

Heffington was born in Los Angeles on December 20, 1950. He grew up in a musical family – his grandmother played drums and his mother played upright bass, and they passed on their enthusiasm for jazz to Heffington.[2] Later, Bob Dylan's album Bringing It All Back Home broadened his musical scope to include rock and roll music. As a teen, Heffington joined a jazz band, The Doug Morris Quintet, on drums.[3][4]

Heffington was drummer for Emmylou Harris's Hot Band. In that capacity, he played on Blue Kentucky Girl (1979), as well as the 1983 album White Shoes.[5][6]


Lone Justice[edit]

Heffington was a member of the first incarnation of Lone Justice, along with Maria McKee (vocals), Ryan Hedgecock (guitar), and Marvin Etzioni (bass). Heffington was with the band from 1982 until 1985.[7][8] In spite of being the group's second drummer, he joined early enough in its existence that McKee spoke of him as an "original member",[5] adding how Heffington was the only one she "never had any drama with".[2]

The presence of Heffington in the band was described by Spin in 1985 as a "kind of professionalizing force".[2] His sensitivity and musicality drew comparisons with Ringo Starr.[2] Etzioni stated how Heffington, like Ringo, "didn’t play drums, he played songs".[5] Hedgecock echoed the sentiment by dubbing Heffington the "King of Swing", recounting how he had "played with a few drummers before, but Don was the first musician that played drums I had encountered".[5]

Watkins Family Hour[edit]

Heffington was a member of the Watkins Family Hour, led by Sara Watkins and Sean Watkins. Other members include Sebastian Steinberg (bass), Greg Leisz (pedal steel), Benmont Tench (piano), and David Garza (guitar).[9][10]

Performing and recording[edit]

Heffington has played and/or recorded with many artists, including Dave Alvin,[11] Peter Case,[12] Vic Chesnutt,[13] Delia Bell,[14] Sheryl Crow, Bob Dylan,[15] Kathleen Edwards,[16] Lowell George,[17] the Jayhawks,[18] Rickie Lee Jones,[19] Sam Phillips,[20] Ron Sexsmith,[21] Percy Sledge, Big Mama Thornton, Big Joe Turner, the Wallflowers, Lucinda Williams,[22] and Dwight Yoakam.[23]

Solo and collaborative albums[edit]

Heffington briefly reunited with McKee for her solo album You Gotta Sin to Get Saved (1993).[5] Two years later, he and fiddler Tammy Rogers collaborated on the mostly instrumental In the Red.[23] This marked the first of three studio albums in his career. He released his first solo album nearly two decades later titled Gloryland (2014).[5] He said that he "wanted it to sound like some drunk falling down the stairs while he was practicing the trombone".[2] Heffington played most of the instruments in that album and recorded with engineer David Vaught.[23]

Contemporary Abstractions in Folk Song and Dance, released in 2015, was recorded live with Heffington (vocals, acoustic guitar), Tim Young (electric guitar) and Sebastian Steinberg (upright bass). Heffington performed as part of the Don Heffington Group with Tim Young, and Sebastian Steinberg.[23]

Later life[edit]

Heffington died on March 24, 2021, at his home in Los Feliz, Los Angeles. He was 70, and had been hospitalized for leukemia prior to his death.[2][5]



With Lone Justice[edit]

As Producer[edit]

Also appears on[edit]







  1. ^ "RolandNote™Country Music Database Searches". RolandNote. Retrieved September 3, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Wood, Mikael (March 25, 2021). "Don Heffington, Lone Justice drummer and session musician for roots stars, dies at 70". The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
  3. ^ Steven Karras (February 17, 2014). "Poetic Justice for Alt-Country Progenitors". web2carz. Retrieved September 4, 2017.
  4. ^ "Butch Morris Time". Gems of Jazz. June 26, 2013. Retrieved September 4, 2017.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Willman, Chris (March 25, 2021). "Don Heffington, Lone Justice Member and L.A.'s Premier Roots-Rock Drummer, Dies at 70". Variety. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
  6. ^ Holly Gleason (March 1, 2016). "LSM Playlist: Nashville's "Great Credibility Scare" of the '80s". Lone Star Music Magazine. Retrieved September 3, 2017.
  7. ^ Larkin, Colin (May 27, 2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music. ISBN 9780857125958. Retrieved September 3, 2017.
  8. ^ Thompson, John Joseph (2000). Raised by Wolves: The Story of Christian Rock & Roll. ECW Press. Retrieved September 3, 2017.
  9. ^ "We'll Steal Your Heart Away". You Make My World Rock. December 28, 2005. Retrieved September 3, 2017.
  10. ^ Crooks, Deborah (August 17, 2015). "An Hour-Plus of Watkins Family Joy". No Depression. Retrieved September 3, 2017.
  11. ^ Michael Dregni (October 1, 2004). "Dave Alvin: Blast Back to the Ashgrove". Vintage Guitar. Retrieved September 1, 2017.
  12. ^ Todd Everett (March 15, 1998). "Review: 'Peter Case'". Variety. Retrieved September 3, 2017.
  13. ^ Stephen M. Deusner (March 28, 2005). "Vic Chesnutt: Ghetto Bells". Pitchfork. Retrieved September 4, 2017.
  14. ^ staff writer (June 6, 1983). "Picks and Pans Review: Delia Bell". People. Retrieved September 3, 2017.
  15. ^ Heylin, Clinton (March 15, 1997). Bob Dylan: The Recording Sessions, 1960-1994. ISBN 9780312150679. Retrieved September 4, 2017.
  16. ^ Martin Bandyke (April 8, 2008). "Five Questions for Canadian Singer-songwriter Kathleen Edwards". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved September 4, 2017.
  17. ^ C. Michael Bailey (January 30, 2016). "Lowell George: The Last Tour". All About Jazz. Retrieved September 3, 2017.
  18. ^ Bogdanov, Vladimir; Chris Woodstra; Stephen Thomas Erlewine (2001). All Music Guide: The Definitive Guide to Popular Music (1 ed.). Hal Leonard Corporation. Retrieved September 4, 2017.
  19. ^ Bream, Jon (May 27, 2009). "Review: A special night with Rickie Lee Jones". Star Tribune. Retrieved September 3, 2017.
  20. ^ Troy Michael (August 1, 2012). "Sam Phillips: Martinis & Bikinis". Innocent Words. Retrieved September 4, 2017.
  21. ^ Hutchinson, Charles (October 13, 2015). "Canadian singer-songwriter Ron Sexsmith sells out Pocklington gig on Carousel One tour". The York Press. Retrieved September 4, 2017.
  22. ^ Mirkin, Steven (July 31, 2001). "Review: 'Lucinda Williams'". Variety. Retrieved September 4, 2017.
  23. ^ a b c d Bliss Bowen (September 2, 2015). "From Sideman to Center Stage". The Argonaut. Retrieved September 3, 2017.
  24. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh bi bj bk bl bm bn bo bp bq br bs bt bu bv bw bx by bz ca cb cc cd ce cf cg ch ci cj ck cl cm cn co cp cq cr cs ct cu cv cw cx cy cz da db dc dd de df dg dh di dj dk dl dm dn do dp dq dr ds dt du dv dw dx dy dz ea "Don Heffington – Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
  25. ^ "Don Heffington – Album Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
  26. ^ "Mark Olson & The Creekdippers". KCRW. September 2006. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
  27. ^ Harcourt, Nic (January 12, 2007). "Ramsay Midwood". KCRW. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
  28. ^ Steinberg, Brian. "California Heart (Ripe, 2000) – Jonny Kaplan". Country Standard Time. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
  29. ^ "Buddy Miller". Lone Star Music. Retrieved March 26, 2021.
  30. ^ "Divide and Conquer – Danni Leigh". Retrieved March 26, 2021.
  31. ^ Morris, Chris (January 9, 2003). "Six Pack of Lonely". LA Weekly. Retrieved March 26, 2021.
  32. ^ The Journal of Country Music. 22–23. Country Music Foundation. 2001.

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