RMHF Class of 2018
John H. Beck (b. 1933) has been a member of the Eastman School of Music faculty since 1959. He received his bachelor’s degree (1955) and master’s degree (1962), as well as Performer’s Certificate, from Eastman. He retired from Eastman in 2008 and continues as Professor Emeritus of Percussion and teaches a class in The History of Percussion. Beck’s career as a performer and teacher includes posts as percussionist, timpanist, marimba soloist with the United States Marine Band (1955-59); principal percussionist with the Rochester Philharmonic (1959-62); and timpanist for the Rochester Philharmonic (1962-2002).
He has made numerous solo appearances worldwide and as a conductor has appeared with the Eastman Percussion Ensemble (1962-2008); in a tour of South America with the Aeolian Consort as percussion soloist (1977); and has participated in numerous guest conducting and percussion clinics in the United States and Europe.
Articles by Beck have been published in Music Journal, The Instrumentalist, Woodwind World, Brass and Percussion, and Percussive Notes; he was also percussion columnist for the National Association of College Wind and Percussion Instructors (NACWPI) Journal (1965-72). He has also contributed articles to the Grove Dictionary of American Music and the World Book Encyclopedia. Carl Fischer, Boston Music, Kendor Music, Meredith Music, MCA, Wimbledon Music, Inc., Studio 4 Productions, and CPP Belwin have published his compositions. His Encyclopedia of Percussion is in its second edition and is published by Routledge.
Among the honors Beck has received include being named the Mu Phi Epsilon Musician of the Year (1976); the Monroe County School Music Association Award (1996); Eastman’s Eisenhart Award for Excellence in Teaching (1997); and the Arts and Cultural Council of Greater Rochester Award for contributions to the arts (1999); and the Edwin Peck Curtis Award for excellence in undergraduate teaching (2002).
In 1999 Beck was inducted into the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame and that same society presented him with an Outstanding Service Award in 2002. The Commission Project presented him with the JD Award for outstanding service to music education in 2004. Since retirement in 2008, he has been awarded the Distinguished Service Award from the New York State School Music Association (2009), The President’s Award from Rowan University (2010), the Lifetime Achievement Award from KOSA International Percussion (2010) and the Life Time Achievement Award from Giornate della Percussione, Fermo, Italy (2010).
His book PERCUSSION MATTERS: Life at the Eastman School of Music was published in 2011 by Meliora Press and the John Beck Composition Prize has been established by Percussion Rochester, a biennial percussion festival.
The Campbell Brothers (active since 1997) are Chuck, Darick, Phil, and Phil’s son Carlton Campbell. They formed the Rochester-based Campbell Brothers in the 1990s and boldly swung the church doors wide open by inviting everyone — incorporating country, blues, soul, and rock into what they have branded as sacred steel music. Along with guest vocalists, they have patented an intense, passionate, and dedicated stage presentation that methodically converts each audience to the Campbell Brothers sound.
Over two decades, starting in 1997, the Campbell Brothers have released six albums and have performed with artists, such as fellow sacred steel master Robert Randolph, as well as the Allman Brothers and Medeski/Martin/Wood.
The House of God/Pentecostal movement had its religious origins in the south (Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, and beyond) around the turn of the 20th century. Sacred steel music began to develop in the 1930s and took country music’s lap-steel guitar and turned it into a gospel instrument, riding on the ribbons of the electric steel guitar.
Steve Gadd (b. 1945) grew up in the Rochester suburb of Irondequoit and graduated from the Eastman School of Music. He is heralded as one of the most influential drummers of all time, setting a new standard in contemporary drumming techniques and performance. His uncle, a drummer in the army, encouraged him to take drum lessons beginning at age 7 and by age 11 he had already jammed with Dizzy Gillespie. At age 12 he appeared on the Mickey Mouse Club, both tap dancing and performing a drum solo.
Recording legendary drum tracks like “Aja,” “Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover,” and “Nite Sprite,” it is believed there is no drummer alive today who in some way has not been affected by Gadd — or that there is no drummer who can get “inside” a tune and find the “pocket” quite like Gadd.
While studying at Eastman, Gadd played with the wind ensemble and concert band and at night in a club with Chick Corea, Chuck Mangione, Joe Romano, and Frank Pullara. After
college, he was drafted into the U.S. Army and spent three years in a military band, later returning to gigging in Rochester. In 1972 Gadd formed a trio with Tony Levin and Mike Holmes and relocated with the band to New York City. There Gadd worked extensively as a studio musician and played with Corea and began recording and touring internationally with Paul Simon, Aretha Franklin, Carly Simon, and Joe Cocker, among many others.
By the end of the 1970s, Gadd was the most in-demand, and possibly the most-imitated, drummer in the world. Gadd began recording and touring with James Taylor in the 1980s and by the 1990s he also had become Eric Clapton’s first-call drummer. He continues to tour with Simon, Taylor, and Clapton, as well as the Steve Gadd Band.
According to Chick Corea, “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.”
Tony Levin (b. 1946) is a Boston native who started playing upright bass at age 10. He went on to study at Eastman School of Music, where he had the chance to play under Igor Stravinsky and with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. Drummer Steve Gadd, a friend and fellow Eastman student, introduced Levin to jazz and rock, as they drove the rhythm of the Chuck Mangione Quartet. Levin soon after traded in his upright for a Fender bass, becoming a studio musician in New York City.
Levin has experienced success in jazz, fusion, and rock groups, including important work with Peter Gabriel and King Crimson. His studio credits extend from Cher to Buddy Rich to John Lennon. His most notable bass-playing albums and tours have been with Peter Gabriel, King Crimson, John Lennon, Pink Floyd, Lou Reed, Alice Cooper, Buddy Rich, Peter Frampton, Gotye, Carly Simon, Judy Collins, Paula Cole, Chuck Mangione, Steven Wilson, James Taylor.
He has six solo albums and has performed on more than 70 collaborative albums. His published books are Beyond the Bass Clef, Road Photos, Crimson Chronicles vol 1, and Fragile as a Song.
In 1976, Levin joined with Gadd to create the lush textures on Andy Pratt‘s Resolution album, which Rolling Stone magazine deemed one of the best singer/songwriter albums of the 1970s. The following year Levin joined Peter Gabriel’s band and has been Gabriel’s bass player of choice for more than 40 years, both on the road and in the studio.
In 1986, the song “Big Time,” from Gabriel’s So album, inspired the development of funk fingers, which are chopped off drumsticks used to hammer on the bass strings. Levin credits Gabriel with the idea. Also in the 1980s, Levin became a member of King Crimson and began recording sessions on Double Fantasy with John Lennon and a group of his contemporaries. He also played all of the bass guitar and Chapman Stick parts on Pink Floyd‘s 1987 album A Momentary Lapse of Reason as a session player.
Ferdinand Jay Smith III (b. 1946) is an Emmy-nominated composer whose music is heard around the world on television networks. His expertise spans film and video animation, directing, writing, voiceover talent, producing, and music composition.
Smith started his career as a DJ at age 15. His on-air work morphed into a career as promotions director where he oversaw concerts for Led Zeppelin, The Rascals, Fleetwood Mac, Deep Purple, and Ginger Baker. He also managed Motown Records’ The Rustix and later he and his brother Gregory Smith promoted BB King, George Carlin, and other hit groups of the 1970s, including Capitol Records’ Skylark, launching the career of one of the most celebrated musicians and producers of all time, David Foster. Smith produced lead singer Donny Gerrard’s album “The Romantic,” which included “Wildflower” and two original songs written by Smith — “Nothing in Common” and “Time Was.” The Skylark’s Top 3 record “Wildflower” launched his lifelong career in music composition and scoring.
In 1973 Ferdinand founded Rochester-based Jay Advertising, Inc., for which he continues to serves as chairman of the leading full-service advertising agency. For 25 years he was the voice of Buick and currently is the voice of Chevy, Wegmans, and Raymour & Flanigan.
Smith is a member DGA-SAG/AFTRA-American Federation of Musicians-BMI Composer. He has scored numerous Emmy Award-winning TV specials and been honored with two Emmy nominations from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and many other awards.
Highlights of his career include composing the theme music for two Olympics for NBC (1980 and1988) and composing the HBO main theme music, resulting in 20 versions to date, and earning Smith a BMI Award in 2009 for longest-running theme on television.
Other theme songs he has composed include HBO specials, such as Sports 25th Anniversary Special, History of Boxing, and Inside the NFL: “When It Was a Game,” earning him an Emmy nomination for Best Music; the score for Emmy-nominated “Life of Arthur Ashe”; producing HBO’s skating special theme music, which won an ACE award (cable industry’s Emmy); themes for ABC, CBS, and NBC movies of the week; Golf Channel and A&E network theme music; Cinemax theme music; theme song for “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous”; and hundreds of original compositions for various retailers across America.