Ricardo Dalvert Wellman, drummer extraordinaire, who was instrumental in defining the "go go" beat as we know it today, died Saturday night November 23, 2013. He played with Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers, Experience Unlimited, Miles Davis, Maiesha & The Hiphuggers, Carlos Santana and many others.
Ricky Wellman grew up as a musical prodigy whose father was Chuck Brown’s original drummer in the 1960s.
As a youngster, Ricky wore braces on his legs from polio. At 13, he joined The Jaguars, a youth funk band from Prince George's, and recorded a 45 rpm single, Crazy Thing.
Ricky joined Chuck Brown and the Soul Searcher in 1976. At that time, Chuck Brown was still working out his idea of using nonstop percussion to link songs together to keep the crowd on the dance floor. The marathon dances were held at 'go-go' halls in the District and neighboring Prince George’s County.
In 1987 Ricky left the group to tour with Miles Davis. He performed on his 1989 album, 'Amandla', and Miles Davis' posthumously released concert album, 'Live Around the World' (1996).
After Davis died in 1991, Ricardo Wellman did studio work and toured with Santana in 1997.
As for his nickname, Ricky recalled: "Chuck Brown nicknamed me Ricky "Tricky Sugarfoot" Wellman because whenever I took drum solos, there was a point where I used one foot pedal to do a roll which sounded like a horse galloping, and I used my snare drum to accent the rhythm. The crowd chanted 'Go, Sugarfoot! Go, Sugarfoot!' and Chuck would stick his microphone in my bass drum and create a monstrous sound that came out from the speakers. Everyone could really feel the rumble in their chest."