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Gadd’s influence goes further. For example, if you’ve ever played a 10" tom, or a floor tom on a stand, you’re following his lead. He put Yamaha drums out front (in the ’80s) and introduced the fusion kit concept with small top toms and shallow floor toms on stands instead of legs.
Playing-wise he made linear patterns work as hip grooves, fuelling perhaps the biggest stylistic makeover of drumming in modern times. He took rudimental stickings and substituted bass drum and hi-hat notes with crystal clear ghost strokes on commercial sessions. It’s even said he put disco drumming on the map with his first hit ‘The Hustle’ (1975) by Van McCoy. And his 1983 Up Close video ushered in the now thriving era of educational drum videos/DVDs.
Here is The Steve Gadd Gang live at the Bottom Line in New York in 1988. Awesome stuff.
Of course there are many other great Gadd moments. Like his incredible signature groove on Paul Simon’s ’50 Ways To Leave Your Lover’, which you can find in Rhythm’s 100 Greatest Ever Drum Beats bookazine – with a video on how to play it!