100 Greatest Drummers of All Time

From rock thunder machines to punk powerhouses, we count down the kings and queens of slam

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Steve Gadd
Tom Copi/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty24/100

24. Steve Gadd

British jazz drummer Pete Fairclough said that Steve Gadd "doesn't play a groove, he digs a trench." At the peak of his work in the New York session scene in the 1970s, he claims he playing three sessions a day, giving a decade of rock music a deep and gentle funkiness. His best known works are the brain-bending syncopation of Paul Simon's "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover" and the slurping hi-hats and monster fills on Steely Dan's "Aja," but Gadd has breathed giddy groove into hundreds of recordings including Van McCoy's Number One disco sensation "The Hustle." "Every drummer wants to play like Gadd because he plays perfect," said Chick Corea. "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."

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