Grady Tate is world-renowned as a session drummer extraordinaire. Yet he has also displayed a warm baritone voice, which, in a reversal of the usual commercial situation, is less well-known than his drumming. Grady Tate was born January 14, 1932, in Durham, North Carolina.
He began singing at age of 4 and taught himself how to play the drums at the age of 5. He thrilled audiences at church and social functions with his angelic renditions, but when he hit puberty, he was so shocked at the change in his voice he stopped singing. An Air Force stint from 1951 to 1955 changed things.
He played as a drummer in a 21-piece show unit and the arranger, trumpeter Bill Berry, started writing vocal scores for him. After his discharge, he taught as English and speech teacher, and then moved to New York to become an actor. Tate's studies at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts were interrupted by a call from organist Wild Bill Davis, and he soon found himself as a full-time drummer working with the Jerome Richardson Combo and the Quincy Jones Big Band.
Since then, he has played with many, many musicians and vocalists, from Jazz to Pops. Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Jimmy Smith, Wes Montgomery, Bill Evans, Oscar Peterson, Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, Sarah Vaughan, Peggy Lee, and Charles Aznavour comprise but a partial list of the people with whom he has performed.
Many will remember Mr. Tate from his six years as the drummer for Johnny Carson's Tonight Show. It is needless to say about his career as a drummer, but he has an international reputation as a singer of first rank. He received two Grammy nominations as "Best Male Pop Vocalist" in 1973 and 1979. He has been described as "the best singer to emerge from the ranks of instrumentalists since Nat King Cole."