Around 1976, Mel Lewis told me of the time he first met Steve Gadd.
In 1976 Steve Gadd was really starting to grab the attention of musicians everywhere – especially drummers. I first heard Steve Gadd in 1974 on Bob James’s One album, including his mind-boggling drumming on the track, Night on Bald Mountain.
Mel’s busy career as a studio drummer had slowed. There wasn’t as much of a demand for instrumental or singer big band dates. Steve’s career as a studio drummer was on the rise. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say Steve Gadd put studio drumming as a career path on the map!
When Steve Gadd introduced himself to Mel Lewis on a New York City sidewalk, he was certainly familiar with Mel’s playing. Mel had heard of Steve Gadd as a rising star. At one point, Steve asked Mel, or commented to Mel, about cracking or breaking cymbals.
What kind of cymbals are you using? Mel asked. Steve said, K. Zildjians. Mel was beside himself. “You’re using K. Zildjian cymbals for playing rock? Oh man, you’re a drag. I don’t know if I even want to talk to you!”
But Mel did continue talking: “You don’t play rock with K. Zildjian cymbals. They’re not made for that. You use A. Zildjian cymbals.”
A tip from the veteran studio drummer to the new guy.