April 9, 1945 - present

Steve Gadd

Color image of Steve Gadd playing the drums
Courtesy of John Fell
Color image of Steve Gadd sitting amongst his drums
Courtesy of drummerworld.com
Pee Wee Ellis

Steve Gadd was born on April 9th, 1945 in Irondequoit, NY. Growing up in Rochester, Steve Gadd was inspired by his drummer uncle and his family, who nurtured his love of the drums and jazz. As a child, Gadd’s father would take him to jazz clubs to hear famous musicians play. He recalls on his website, “There were a couple of great clubs in Rochester. The one at the rich end of town brought in all the big guys like Oscar Peterson and Dizzy Gillespie. I used to sit at the very front and remember watching Gene Krupa play.” Gadd attended the Manhattan School of Music, but eventually finished his degree back in Rochester at the Eastman School of Music, often gigging with the Mangione brothers and Ron Carter. He was drafted into the army after graduating, and spent three years playing in military bands. Following his service, Gadd returned to Rochester to play, but shortly thereafter began his career as a studio musician, where he steadily rose to fame.  Eventually playing with Simon and Garfunkel’s band and winning a spot in the Drummer Hall of Fame in 1984, he was known for his exceptional skill. Jazz legend Chick Corea once commented: “Every drummer wants to play like Gadd because he plays perfect.”

He has collaborated with many notable musicians, including Bette Midler, Paul Simon, Aretha Franklin, Frank Sinatra, Eric Clapton, and many others. Gadd was a member of the original Saturday Night Live band. In 2005, Gadd received an honorary doctorate in music from Berklee College of Music, and in 2016, his album Way Back Home: Live From Rochester, NY was nominated for a Grammy (he would later secure that accomplishment in 2018). When he is not touring elsewhere, Gadd can often be seen playing at Rochester’s own summer Jazz Festival.

Charles “Chuck” Mangione

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