One of the most influential drummers of all time, Steve Gadd set a new standard in contemporary drumming techniques and performance, and in doing so launched a thousand imitators.

Recording so many legendary drum tracks like; Steely Dan's "Aja", Paul Simon's "Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover", and Chick Corea's "Nite Sprite", there is no drummer alive today who in some way has not been affected by Steve Gadd.

So what makes Steve the musician that he is?

Steve Gadd in the studio

Photo by Bill Zules

PERFECTION IS OVERRATED

“I don’t know anybody who’s perfect. You go out there and do your best. And if you don’t nail it, then you go out the next day and you try to get it right. That’s really all you can do.”

Drummer, Steve Gadd

Photo by Bill Zules

NO SHOWING OFF

“Instead of driving the music with this need to show off, I’ve learned to let the music dictate what I need to do. You have to really listen in order to do that.”

Steve Gadd listening as he plays with other musicians.

Steve Gadd playing with (L-R) Tom Scott, saxophone; Mike Rodriguez, trumpet; Carlitos Del Puerto, bass; Luisito Quintero, percussion.

SEEK INSPIRATION

“Originally you’re inspired by hearing someone else doing something, and then taking it home and trying to learn how to do it. When I was growing up I would get records of Philly Joe, Elvin Jones, Tony Williams, and guys like that, and slow the records down and work out what they were playing, and then work on it and put my own feel to it. That’s how we all learn.”

Grammy Award winning Steve Gadd Band.
Steve Gadd on drums.

BUT BE ORIGINAL

“You can’t be a copy of somebody else, no matter how hard you try. It’s impossible. I’ve seen people try to copy licks and get them exact, and I can tell they’re not playing in a way that’s natural or comfortable. That’s not what music is all about. You have to develop your own bag of tricks. The worst thing in the world you can do is let your enthusiasm for somebody else’s work stifle your own creativity.”

Instead of driving the music with this need to show off, I’ve learned to let the music dictate what I need to do. You have to really listen in order to do that.”

Steve Gadd

GET IN THE GROOVE

“I’ve seen so many drummers who have chops and technique that would make your jaw drop to the floor. People are doing some really incredible things. To me, though, I find it just as inspiring on a whole different level when I see somebody who can play a groove and get inside it and make me tap my toes. If you can get people tapping their toes, that’s it – you’re playing music.”

Steve Gadd Zoom Creator of the Year

Steve Gadd receiving Zoom "Creator of the Year" award from Zoom CEO, Masahiro Iijima (NAMM 2020, Anaheim, California)

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