"On some of those fast takes we have talent attacks."
(6/3/1996, during recordings for 'Tribute to Jeff')
One of the most influential drummers of all time, Steve Gadd set a new standard in contemporary drumming techniques and performance, and in doing so launched a thousand imitators. Recording so many legendary drum tracks like; " Aja"," Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover" and "Nite Sprite", there is no drummer alive today who in some way has not been effected by Steve Gadd. His influence is still very much felt and can be heard in the playing of everyone from Vinnie Colaiuta to Carter Beauford. And still to this day there is no one who can get "inside" a tune and find the "pocket" quite like the great Steve Gadd.
Steve Gadd was born in Rochester, New York, April 9, 1945. Steve's Uncle, a drummer in the army, encouraged him to take drum lessons at the age of seven; by the time Steve was 11 he had sat in with Dizzy Gillespie. Studied music at Eastman College, Rochester, playing in wind ensemble and concert band, and at nights in a club with Chick Corea, Chuck Mangione, Joe Romano and Frank Pullara. After college, drafted into army and spent three years in a military band. After the army, gigged and worked with a big band in Rochester. 1972, formed a trio with Tony Levin and Mike Holmes, going to New York with it. The trio fizzled out, but Gadd began to work extensively as a studio musician. He also played with Corea's first Return to Forever. 1970's and 1980's, toured internationally, recorded with Paul Simon and with Al DiMeola's Electric Rendezvous Band. By the end of the 1970's Gadd was the most in-demand and probably the most imitated drummer in the world. In Japan transcriptions of his solos were on sale, and all the leading Japanese drummers were sounding like him. Chick Corea commented, "Every drummer wants to play like Gadd because he plays perfect . . . He has brought orchestral and compositional thinking to the drum kit while at the same time having a great imagination and a great ability to swing." Gadd's favorites are Elvin Jones, Tony Williams, Jack DeJohnette, Buddy Rich, Louie Bellson, among others.
After graduating from Eastman, Steve was drafted into the Army. While carrying out his three-year tour of duty, Steve ended up playing drums in the military band. After leaving the Army, Steve began gigging with a big band in the Rochester area and in 1972, formed a trio with Tony Levin and Mike Holmes. It was after relocating to New York City that Steve became one of the most sought after studio musicians in town. It was as a studio musician that Steve came into his own and worked with such musicians as Chick Corea, Paul Simon, Donald Fagen and Walter Becker, Aretha Franklin, Carly Simon, Bob James, Nancy Wilson and Joe Cocker to name a few.
In the 70's and 80's, Steve Cut five albums with Chick Corea, several albums with Al DiMeola including Al's Electric Rendezvous, and recorded and toured with Gato Barbieri, George Benson, Stanley Clarke, Steely Dan, Joe Cocker, Maynard Ferguson, Roberta Flack, Jim Hall and of course, Paul Simon. In 1976 Steve became a member of the group Stuff with Gordon Edwards, Richard Tee, Eric Gale, Cornell Dupree and Chris Parker, while continuing his heavy schedule of studio work. Towards the end of the 70's, Steve had not only become one of the most in-demand drummers, but he had also become one of the most imitated, and revered drummers in the world.
The 90's saw Steve become Eric Clapton's first call drummer, solidifying Steve's reputation as one of the most accomplished and skilled drummers of his generation.
Today Steve is just as busy as he ever was with one of the most intense recording and touring schedules in the business, spending time in the studio and on the road with Eric Clapton, Paul Simon and James Taylor.
Steve's influence on the drumming community can be heard in players from all walks of life, whether they know it or not. His feel, imagination, and abilities are the signatures of his trademark sound. Few others can manage to get inside a tune like Steve Gadd."