Steve Gadd

Stephen Kendall Gadd (born April 9, 1945[1]) is an American drummer, percussionist, and session musician. Gadd is one of the most well-known and highly regarded session and studio drummers in the industry, recognized by his induction into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 1984.[2] Gadd's performance on Paul Simon's "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover", "Late in the Evening" and Steely Dan's "Aja" are examples of his style. He has worked with popular musicians from many genres including Simon & Garfunkel, Steely Dan, James Taylor, Harry Chapin, Eric Clapton, Kate Bush, Joe Cocker, Grover Washington Jr., Chick Corea, Lee Ritenour, Paul Desmond, Chet Baker, Al Di Meola, Kenny Loggins and Michel Petrucciani.

Steve Gadd
Steve Gadd at Bodø Jazz Open, 2014
Background information
Birth nameStephen Kendall Gadd
Born (1945-04-09) April 9, 1945
Irondequoit, New York, U.S.
InstrumentsDrums, percussion
Years active1968–present


In a Modern Drummer interview Gadd mentioned that some of his influences at a young age and later on included Buddy Rich, Elvin Jones, Tony Williams, and the "less is more" style of Rick Marotta.[3]

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."[4]

In 2005, along with Abraham Laboriel, Patrice Rushen and others, Gadd was awarded an honorary Doctor of Music degree from Berklee College of Music for outstanding contributions to contemporary music.[5][6]

Way Back Home: Live from Rochester, NY by the Steve Gadd Band was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards.[7]

Steven Gadd won the 2019 Best Contemporary Instrumental Album at the 61st Grammy Awards for Steve Gadd Band — (by the) Steve Gadd Band.[8][9]

Session work

A short list of musicians with whom Gadd has worked includes Frank Sinatra, Paul McCartney, Paul Simon, Edie Brickell, Steely Dan, Al Jarreau, Joe Cocker, Stuff, Bob James, Chick Corea, Eric Clapton, Pino Daniele, James Taylor, Jim Croce, Eddie Gómez, The Manhattan Transfer, Michal Urbaniak, Steps Ahead, Tony Banks, Manhattan Jazz Quintet, Carly Simon, Richard Tee, Jon Bon Jovi, Chet Baker, Paul Desmond, The Bee Gees, Michael McDonald, Michel Petrucciani, Kate Bush, and David Sanborn.


Gadd recorded and toured with Eric Clapton in 1994/1996 and again from 1997 to 2004. 1997 also saw him on a world tour in a trio with the French jazz great Michel Petrucciani and his long-time band colleague, bassist Anthony Jackson (captured on the Trio in Tokyo CD and Live in Stuttgart DVD/VHS). He also continued his long-time collaboration with artist Paul Simon, joining him in concert on numerous occasions, often alongside Brazilian percussionist Airto Moreira.


Gadd played on the blues album Riding with the King along with B. B. King, Eric Clapton and Jimmie Vaughan and a few others.

In 2009, Gadd returned to Clapton's band to play 11 nights at the Royal Albert Hall and was part of Clapton's touring band throughout May 2009.

Also in 2009, Gadd reunited with his band from 1973, "L'Image", featuring Mike Mainieri, Warren Bernhardt, David Spinozza and Tony Levin. The group performed at the Iridium Jazz Club in New York City, toured Japan, and released the album L'Image 2.0.


Gadd played with Eric Clapton in his band at the 2010 Crossroads Festival. In 2011, Gadd worked with Kate Bush on her 50 Words for Snow album, and she declared during an interview by Jamie Cullum that she had wanted to work with Steve Gadd for a long time but had not had the courage to approach him; she described him as "a sweet person, really down to earth" and said that "his interpretation of music is so sophisticated", and also that she loved working with him due to a real chemistry that started to click in.

Gadd toured in 2014 with James Taylor.[10] Since 2014, Gadd has played in a soul-jazz trio along with Danish musicians Michael Blicher and Dan Hemmer.[11]


Gadd endorses and uses Yamaha drums, pedals & hardware,[12][13] Zildjian cymbals,[13][14] Remo drumheads,[13][15] Latin Percussion,[13][16] Earthworks microphones,[13][17] Vic Firth sticks and brushes[13][18] and Beato bags.[19] Before signing on with Yamaha, Gadd played a mixed kit that included a Gretsch bass drum (20") and Pearl concert toms customized by Frank Ippolito's Professional Percussion Center in New York. By using Evans hydraulic heads with added bottom heads he was able to get a deeper, richer tone that became known as his signature sound, a sound still popular 30 years later. Gadd now mainly uses the "Steve Gadd Commemorative" kit, which Yamaha made for the 30th anniversary of his collaboration with the company. The kit consists of a 22"×14" maple bass drum and 12"x8", 13"x9", 14"x12" and 16"x14" birch tom toms. He uses his 14"x5.5" Yamaha Steve Gadd signature steel snare drum with wood hoops, which also comes in birch and maple versions, and he has started to endorse the newer Yamaha Recording Custom series.[20] Gadd has also used a Yamaha Club Custom drum kit in a blue swirl finish.[21]

He uses Zildjian cymbals, and he collaborated with Zildjian when they made the K Custom Session cymbals.

Gadd also has Vic Firth sticks with his signature on them. The drumsticks are very light and thin, black in color, and have normal "wood color" on the tips. There is also an identical model with nylon tips. The stick is slightly shorter than the American Classic 5A, and features a barrel tip for improved recording sound. It is 15 34 in (40.0 cm) long and the diameter is .550 in (1.40 cm). In addition to having his own signature stick, he has his own signature brushes. These brushes are intended to solve the problem of wire brushes snagging on new coated drumheads by slightly angling the wires in the top 3/4 inches (1.9 cm) of the playing end. The wires glide across the head, allowing a smoother sweep and a velvet swish sound.

Gadd uses a variety of Remo heads: a Coated Powerstroke 3 on the batter side of the snare with a Hazy Diplomat on the resonant side of the snare, Clear Pinstripes or Coated Ambassadors on the batter sides of toms, and Clear Ambassadors for the resonant sides. He is using a Coated Powerstroke 3 both on his snare and kick drum.[19][22][23]

He also has an LP Steve Gadd signature cowbell, modelled on the LP Mambo cowbell that he has used since the 1970s.[24]

According to allmusic, Gadd has been variously credited with playing surdo, kalimba, timpani, tambourine, congas, Grand Cassa, bongos, timbales, snare drum, cymbals and palmas in addition to a drum kit.[25]


With Aretha Franklin

With James Taylor

With Barry Manilow

With Art Garfunkel

With Edie Brickell

With Peter Allen

With Tracy Chapman

With Marc Cohn

With Richie Havens

  • Connections (Elektra Records, 1980)

With Bette Midler

With Stephen Bishop

With Paul Simon

With Kate Bush

With Eric Clapton and B.B. King

With Barbra Streisand

  • Guilty (Columbia Records, 1980)

With Christopher Cross

With Joss Stone

With Phoebe Snow

With Eric Clapton

With Philip Bailey

  • Love Will Find a Way (Verve Records, 2019)

With Randy Crawford

  • Feeling Good (EmArcy, 2006)
  • No Regrets (EmArcy, 2008)

With Peter Gabriel

  • Up (Realworld Records, 2002)

With Amy Grant and Art Garfunkel

With Al Jarreau

With Jackie DeShannon

With Jennifer Holliday

With Michael McDonald

With Frankie Valli

With Diane Schuur

  • Talkin' 'bout You (GPR, 1988)

With Gloria Loring

  • Friends & Lovers (Atlantic Records, 1986)

With Joe Cocker

With Bonnie Raitt

With Rickie Lee Jones

With Kenny Loggins

With Paul McCartney

With Dionne Warwick

With Melissa Manchester

With Garland Jeffreys

With George Benson

With Melba Moore

With Roberta Flack

With Carly Simon

With Ringo Starr



  1. Braman, Chuck; Kernfeld, Barry (2002). "Gadd, Steve". In Barry Kernfeld (ed.). The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, Vol. 2 (2nd ed.). New York: Grove's Dictionaries Inc. p. 2. ISBN 1561592846.
  2. "Modern Drummer's Readers Poll Archive, 1979–2014". Modern Drummer. Retrieved August 10, 2015.
  3. Rick Mattingly, Hall of Fame - Steve Gadd" Archived June 20, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, Percussive Arts Society.
  4. Bosso, Joe. "Steve Gadd on playing with Clapton, McCartney, and his own band". Profile,, July 5, 2010; retrieved May 6, 2011.
  5. "Honorary Degree Recipients", Berklee College of Music website
  6. Gadd official website.
  7. "59th Annual Grammy Award Nominees". Retrieved February 9, 2017.
  8. "Grammys 2019: See All the Winners". Time. Retrieved March 3, 2019.
  9. WHAM (February 10, 2019). "Rochester native wins Grammy for Best Contemporary Instrumental album". WHAM. Retrieved March 3, 2019.
  10. "Steve Gadd, Drums". James Taylor. Retrieved October 18, 2015.
  11. "Steve Gadd, Drums". James Taylor. Retrieved February 21, 2019.
  12. "Steve Gadd". Retrieved October 18, 2015.
  13. "The Official Steve Gadd Website ::: DRUMSET". Archived from the original on August 19, 2011. Retrieved October 18, 2015.
  14. "Artists who use Zildjian Cymbals". Retrieved October 3, 2016.
  15. "Remo - Artist: Steve Gadd". Remo. Archived from the original on October 9, 2015. Retrieved October 18, 2015.
  16. Fender Musical Instruments. "Welcome to Latin Percussion". Archived from the original on April 11, 2016. Retrieved October 18, 2015.
  17. "Steve Gadd". Retrieved October 18, 2015.
  18. "Vic Firth Signature Artist: Steve Gadd". Retrieved October 18, 2015.
  19. Si Truss, Tom Porter and Rhythm Magazine. "Drum kits of the pros: stars' live and studio drum setups in pictures". MusicRadar. Retrieved October 18, 2015.
  20. "Steve Gadd on the return of the Recording Custom". Retrieved December 6, 2017.
  21. Lone Star Percussion (November 7, 2012). "Yamaha Club Custom Played and Signed by Steve Gadd at PASIC 2012 during Pedrito Martinez Clinic". Retrieved December 6, 2017 via YouTube.
  22. "The Official Steve Gadd Website: Set Up". Retrieved March 3, 2019.
  23. "Yard Gavrilovic: Steve Gadd's Drum Tech". January 2009. Retrieved March 3, 2019.
  24. "LP® Steve Gadd Signature Mambo Cowbell". Latin Percussion®. Retrieved December 6, 2017.
  25. "Steve Gadd - Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved December 6, 2017.
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