Honoring Ndugu Chancler with four clinic videos Including his full show at the London Drum Show Honoring Ndugu Chancler with four clinic videos - Including Full show at the London Drum Show On February 3, 2018, master drummer and Groove King Ndugu Chancler died of prostate cancer at the age of 65 in Los Angeles. To celebrate and honor the life of Ndugu Chancler, we dug up and revamped the footage from his clinic at the London Drum Show in 2010. Below you find four videos of this session, that he played continuously for 45 minutes. The first one is the start of the clinic, playing with his hands, second is where we would like to pinpoint his master groove skills on the hi-hat. The third one is at the end of the clinic, where he plays a Michael Jackson medley of songs he recorded with the King of Pop. The fourth video is the entire clinic. We recommend watching it fully to get a first grasp of his sound, playing and musicality.

Ndugu Chancler - Drum solo with hands

Billie Jean
Ndugu Chancler was not only a brilliant and gifted soul, funk, country and jazz drummer. He was also a percussionist, played the vibraphone and was a skilled songwriter and producer. As a songwriter he won a Grammy in 1982 with the Dazz Band's Let It Whip. And, of course, he was the drummer on Michael Jackson's crazy-selling single Billie Jean, which boosted 'Thriller' to become the best-selling album of all time (over 66 million copies world wide). He can also be heard on the Thriller-tracks P.Y.T. and Baby Be Mine. Jeffrey Porcaro took care of the rest of the drum tracks on this album.

Ndugu was also invited to play on MJ's next album after 'Thriller,' 'Bad' (1987), selling over 35 million copies. He plays the drums on the first single of the album, I Just Can't Stop Loving You, with Siedah Garrett. On this album he shares the big chair with John 'JR' Robinson, Miko Brando, Ollie E. Brown, Bill Bottrell, Bruce Swedien and Humberto Gatica.

Ndugu Chancler - Drum solo Hi-Hat Groove

"I was caught up in the seventies, the fusion era. That era changed my life because I could play any kind of music I wanted to.
Most of you know me from my work with Michael Jackson. But when I was 19, I shared the stage with Miles Davis. And that was the musical experience that gave me the scope, the concept, and the vision to be a part of all the music that came thereafter."
- Leon "Ndugu" Chancler

Ndugu Chancler was born in Shreveport, Louisiana on July 1st, 1952. While attending Locke High School in Los Angeles he began to play the drums at the age of thirteen. After his graduation, he studied music education at California State University, Dominguez Hills. During that time, he already played with Herbie Hancock and Hugh Masakela. From that time his immense resume starts to take shape when he performs and records with Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard, Wayne Shorter, Joe Henderson, Eddie Harris, Harold Land and Bobby Hutcherson.

Ndugu Chancler - Michael Jackson Medley

Still in his twenties, he was a member of Santana from 1974 to 1976. You can hear Ndugu play on several albums with Santana, including the three-disc release 'Dance of the Rainbow Serpent,' on which he plays the Santana-classic Europa "Earth's Cry Heaven's Smile". (Other artist on this album include: Gaylord Birch, Walfredo De Los Reyes Sr, Peter Erskine, Pete Escovedo, Graham Lear, Airto Moreira, Armando Peraza, Karl Perazzo, Raul Rekow, early Santana-drummer Michael Shrieve and Orestes Vilato.)

Private Dancer
One other major milestone we would like to mention here is that Ndugu (which is Swahili for Earth Brother, a family member or friend) also played on one of the biggest albums of Tina Turner, 'Private Dancer,' playing The Beatles' 1965 #1 track Help!. This album sold over 20 million copies.

As a musician, Ndugu also performed and recorded with George Duke, Patrice Rushen, Bobby Womack, Lionel Hampton, The Crusaders, Frank Sinatra, Weather Report, Lionel Richie, Kenny Rogers, Thelonious Monk, John Lee Hooker and numerous others.

His movie soundtracks include An Officer and a Gentleman, Indecent Proposal, and The Color Purple.

Click here to his Drummerszone Artist Page and find more releases that Ndugu Chancler played on.

Ndugu Chancler - Full Drum Solo at London Drum Show (45 min)

Ndugu the producer and songwriter
Besides his Grammy winning hit song Let It Whip and writing for the Dazz Band, Ndugu was an active and versatile producer and songwriter. He also wrote hits for George Duke and produced for Flora Purim, Bill Summers and his own solo recordings - which you can find listed on the right. He co-produced several recordings for Santana, The Crusaders, George Duke, Tina Turner, and Joe Sample.

Pocket Change
In 2013, Ndugu published his book 'Pocket Change'. Pocket change is a concept of approaching playing music to build a long, stable career. In this book, Ndugu gives you all the insights on how to become a great drummer, but even more important: a musician who can take care of business both musically and in the business.

And exactly that, is what Ndugu Chancler became after that session with Miles Davis. And he stayed there, for over 40 years.

Ndugu Chancler's awards
Awards and prices Ndugu had a big part in.
  • 1982 Grammy Win: Best Rhythm & Blues Song - Let It Whip
  • 1983 American Music Awards (AMAs) - Billy Jean
  • 1983 Grammy nominations: Song Of The Year - Billie Jean (Single)
  • 1983 Grammy win: Album Of The Year - 'Thriller'
  • 1983 Grammy win: Best Rhythm & Blues Song - Billie Jean
Ndugu Chancler's gear
  • Yamaha
  • Paiste cymbals
  • Remo drumheads
  • Vic Firth drumsticks, mallets etc.
  • Shure microphones
  • Toca
  • Hansenfutz
  • Gator Cases
Listen to: Dazz Band - Let It Whip on Spotify
Listen to: Michael Jackson - Billy Jean on Spotify
All artists performing at the London Drum Show 2010
  • Ian Matthews
  • Lisa Cherian
  • Andy Fisenden
  • Ben Clarke
  • Mike Mangini
  • Ndugu Chancler
  • Dave Weckl
  • Nisan Stewart
  • Pete Lockett
  • Benny Greb
  • Host: Ian Croft
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