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Steve Gadd Biography

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Steve Gadd (born April 9, 1945 in Rochester, New York) is a very well known session drummer, mainly known for work with Paul Simon, Steely Dan, Joe Cocker, Bob James, Chick Corea, Eric Clapton, Eddie Gomez, The Manhattan Transfer, Michael Urbaniak, Steps Ahead, and many others. Gadd is arguably the most recorded drummer in history.

When Gadd was 7 years old, his uncle, who was a drummer in the US army, encouraged him to take drum lessons. Gadd became so talented at the drums that by the time he was 11 years old he had sat in with Dizzy Gillespie.

After graduating from high school, he attended the Manhattan School of Music for two years, then transferred to the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, playing in wind ensemble and concert band. At night, he would often play club gigs with other young musicians including Gap Mangione, Chick Corea, Chuck Mangione, Joe Romano, Dan Gelber and Frank Pullara. After Gadd finished college in the late 1960s, he played regularly with Chuck Mangione.

Steve was drafted into army and spent three years in a military band as a drummer. After his military band service, Gadd played and worked with a well known band in Rochester. In 1972, Gadd formed a trio with Tony Levin and Mike Holmes, traveling to New York with them. The trio eventually broke up, but Gadd began to work mainly as a studio musician. Gadd also played with Corea's Return to Forever but left the group since he wanted to work as a studio musician instead of touring.

In the 1970s and 1980s, he toured internationally, and recorded with Paul Simon and also with Al Di Meola's Electric Rendezvous Band. Many people assume that he played with the LA rock band Charlie, but Gadd, while on his 'We're on a Mission from Gadd' tour in 2005, told fans that it was another drummer by the same name - not him. In fact, Gadd said, "I've never met the other Steve Gadd. We happened to stay in the same hotel once, though. I kept getting his messages and apparently he was getting mine."

By the end of the 1970's, Steve Gadd was one of the most in-demand and influential drummers in the world. In Japan, transcriptions of his drum solos were on sale, and almost all the leading drummers from Japan sounded like him. Chick Corea once 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 showed some of these strengths in his work on the title track to Steely Dan's classic Aja album -- highlighted by Gadd's powerful drum punctuation of the coda. Corea's straight jazz albums Friends and Three Quartets are good examples of Gadd's jazz playing.

Some of Gadd's favorite drummers are Elvin Jones, Tony Williams, Jack DeJohnette, Buddy Rich, and Louie Bellson.

Steve Gadd is one of the first endorsers of Yamaha drums, which he's played since 1976. He is known for using the "Yamaha Recording Custom" drums, but has recently changed his gear to a setup consisting of "Birch Custom Absolute" toms and a maple bass drum. He has several signature snare drum models, but most famous for using a chrome over brass, Ludwig Supraphonic snare drum. Hear it on "Fifty Ways To Lose Your Lover," a Paul Simon classic. Gadd first came to the idea of mounting two large tom-toms on a low stand and using them as floor toms. He also uses his own signature series Zildjian K Custom Session cymbals.

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