Steve Gadd was born in Rochester, NY and attended the Eastman School of Music. He’s considered to be the most influential drummer of contemporary music as well as the most sought after studio drummer in the world. His drumming can be heard on many hits by artists such as Paul Simon, James Taylor, Eric Clapton, Steely Dan and Chick Corea just to name a fraction of them.
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.”