He is a session drummer born in Irondequoit, Rochester, New York, who has been described as “arguably the most recorded drummer in history”.
He began to learn the drums when he was seven with the encouragement of his uncle and by the time he was eleven he was sitting in with Dizzy Gillespie. He studied at the Manhattan School of Music and the Eastman School of Music and in the evenings would often accompany artists such as Chick Corea and Chuck Mangione. After finishing his education he became a drummer in the US Army followed three years later by joining a group from Rochester before teaming up with Tony Levin and Mike Holmes and forming a trio. He was also a member of Return of Forever with Chick Corea but he left them both to become a studio drummer.
Throughout the 1970s and ’80s he made numerous recordings with many artists and he regularly toured with Paul Simon and Al Di Meola’s Electric Rendezvous Band. In 1976 he was a founding member of the group Stuff, who backed Joe Cocker and appeared on several Saturday Night (Live) shows. In 1988 he formed The Gadd Gang who recorded two albums: The Gadd Gang and Here and Now.
He became highly sought after and throughout his career has appeared with artists and groups such as Steely Dan, B.B.King, The Manhattan Transfer, Steps, George Benson, who was only 14 when they first worked together, Eric Clapton, James Brown, Al Jarreau, Ricky Lee Jones, James Taylor, Barbra Streisand, Van McCoy and Paul McCartney among many others.
He is noted for creating the rhythm on Paul Simon’s “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover”, using “drum punctuation of the coda” for “Aja” by Steely Dan and he has also been attributed with creating the “disco beat” with his work on “The Hustle” by Van McCoy .
In 2005 he received an honorary doctorate from Berklee School of Music and was inducted into the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame.
In 2009 and 2010 he worked and toured with Eric Clapton and in 2014 he toured with James Taylor.
Van McCoy recordings
That’s the Joint (Van McCoy)
The Shuffle (Van McCoy)
Here he is drumming in the studio…