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Artist biography Raymond Pounds
Raymond Pounds’ four-decade-long drumming career took off when, at the age of twenty-two, he recorded Stevie Wonder’s mega-hits “Sir Duke” and “I Wish.” The drummer then went on tour with Wonder for five years.
Raymond Pounds got the Wonder gig after the R&B superstar called him to his Hollywood Hill’s home to audition, based on recommendations from South African trumpet player Hugh Masakela and Jazz Crusaders drummer Stix Hooper.
Raymond Pounds rang the bell, Wonder walked over to the gate, found the right key, and unlocked it as if he could see. Wonder welcomed him with, “If you don’t play good, we’re going to kick your ass.” Well, Pounds nailed Wonder’s hits, “Superstition” and “Sunshine Of My Life,” and was offered the gig. The two men went on to establish a close friendship. In fact, Stevie was the best man at Pounds’ wedding.
As a youngster, Raymond Pounds was a serious student of the drums. At thirteen, bass player Richard Taylor took the fledgling drummer to Clarence Johnston for lessons, which he took for nine years.
Raymond Pounds’ first road gig was with famed jazz singer Joe Williams, when he was only eighteen. He then performed with The Don Ellis Jazz Orchestra, known for its incredibly challenging odd-meter charts.
After Raymond Pounds’ time with Wonder, the drummer worked with James Brown, Bob Dylan, Chaka Kahn, Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight, Diana Ross, The Platters, The Pointer Sisters, The Temptations, Michael Jackson, Dionne Warwick, Ice Cube, and Sean Combs (Diddy).
Today Raymond Pounds lives comfortably with his family in his San Fernando Valley, California home, and he has a full schedule of freelance gigs, including work with The Platters, The Santa Monica College Orchestra, and The Agape Christian Fellowship Church.
Raymond Pounds also does a bit of teaching. His advice to young drummers is, “You need to learn your craft; you need to learn how to read music. If you play by ear, and you don’t read, you’re limited. You want to be qualified to do any desired job that comes along.”
Other secrets of Pounds’ success include being friendly and approachable, and being able to play everything from jazz to hip-hop.