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Steve Gadd


Steve Gadd was born in Rochester, New York, April 9, 1945. Steve's Uncle, a drummer in the army, encouraged him to take drum lessons at the age of seven; by the time Steve was 11 he had sat in with Dizzy Gillespie. Studied music at Eastman College, Rochester, playing in wind ensemble and concert band, and at nights in a club with Chick Corea, Chuck Mangione, Joe Romano and Frank Pullara. After college, drafted into army and spent three years in a military band. After the army, gigged and worked with a big band in Rochester. 1972, formed a trio with Tony Levin and Mike Holmes, going to New York with it. The trio fizzled out, but Gadd began to work extensively as a studio musician.

He also played with Corea's first Return to Forever. 1970's and 1980's, toured internationally, recorded with Paul Simon and with Al DiMeola's Electric Rendezvous Band. By the end of the 1970's Gadd was the most in-demand and probably the most imitated drummer in the world. In Japan transcriptions of his solos were on sale, and all the leading Japanese drummers were sounding like him. Chick Corea commented, "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." Gadd's favorites are Elvin Jones, Tony Williams, Jack DeJohnette, Buddy Rich, Louie Bellson, among others.
With many singers, including Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Barbra Striesand, Paul McCartney and Paul Simon; with Corea, Three Quartets (1981), Warner Bros; My Spanish Heart (1976); Friends (1978); The Mad Hatter (1978), all Polydor; with George Benson, In Concert (1975), CTI; with Stuff, Stuff (nda), Warner Bros; with DiMeola, Electric Rendezvous 1982), Columbia; with Carla Bley, Dinner Music (1976).
Steve grew up in Rochester, where he and his brother tap-danced at a small club, and where he played with local musicians and bands that passed through. He studied privately with Bill and Stanley Street; later with John Beck. He attended the Manhattan School of Music for two years, then transferred to the Eastman School of Music in Rochester. After finishing school, he played in Rochester with Chuck Mangione. In [the late] 1960's, he went into the Army for three years. He came to New York in 1971 and quickly became one of the most sought after studio musicians in town. Steve, a musician who "doesn't believe in labels," has recorded with artists of all styles and genres, among them Paul Simon, Carly Simon, Phoebe Snow, Steely Dan, Ashford and Simpson, Aretha Franklin, Judy Collins, Bette Midler, James Brown, Joe Cocker, Nancy Wilson, Bob James, and Chick Corea. Until the late 1970's, he remained almost exclusively a session player, appearing briefly with Chick Corea, Mike Mainieri, Herbie Mann, and several others. In 1976 he became a member of the group Stuff with Gordon Edwards, Richard Tee, Eric Gale, Cornell Dupree, and Chris Parker, while continuing his heavy schedule of studio work.

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