Below is a groove idea that I wrote out for my friend Jace D at N.A.M.M. a few years back. We were talking about drum grooves of the 1970s, and how adventurous they were. Even in pop songs. Even the drum fills.

I had been fascinated by Steve Gadd’s groove for “Chuck E’s In Love” , a hit single by Rickie Lee Jones. The basic groove is a swampy, swung 8th note, half time groove which is just loaded with feel. But then there comes a breakdown bridge of just acoustic guitar/vocal, and at a different tempo. So what does Steve Gadd do to pull us back to a swung 8th note feel and original tempo? A funky, straight 16th note fill of course.

I’ve been planing on doing a YouTube video to talk about this incredible fill, and how it inspired me to create some grooves from it. But back to my conversation with Jace. I wrote out one of the grooves inspired by the fill, and then the actual fill below on a scrap of paper:

For the drummers out there, the x=high hat, the middle note=snare, and the bottom note=kick drum. There’s an accent on the second right hand when playing the high hat. All of the snare notes are ghost notes except for the backbeat on 3.

The actual lick from the recording is transcribed at the bottom. Note the open high hat with the right hand on beat four.

More on this later, but if you haven’t heard this great song, inspiring drumming, and an insane drum fill, check it out.

In January 2001, Stewart Copleand performed a special concert at the NAMM show in Anaheim, CA. It was in a huge ballroom of the Anaheim Geek Hilton. He and his orchestra played songs from his film scores, and also his operas. I was in the front row with a few of my drummer friends (Josh Freese, Dean Butterworth, and Drew Hester), and we were all like little kids gawking at one of the greatest drummers alive.

Stewart was animated, aggressive, and everything else you would expect from him. It was inspiring to see him play again, and especially sitting so close!

After the show, my wife and I were walking around the place, and lo and behold, here comes Stewart Copeland and his entourage walking towards us. Melinda elbows me and HAt says something like “look, there’s Stewart, now’s your chance to say something”, but I was totally choked up and he passed right by. There went my one chance to meet the drummer who inspired them? me to pick up a pair of drum sticks and start playing. I suppose some people would call this being star struck, but I’ve met some other famous people including Brian Eno, Peter Gabriel, Daniel Lanois, and this never happened before.

About and hour later, we’re still in the hotel (NAMM shows are all about running into people), and sure enough, I see Stewart again, up ahead, this time walking away from us. Well, I had a few drinks by then, so I had the nerve to say something. I went running up to him, and yelled “Hey Stewart!” (as if we were on a first name basis!). He turned around, and I said something like ‘It was great to see you play tonight, Rod and I’ve always enjoyed your playing.” Or something to that effect. He smiled, said thanks, and we shook hands. So there it was, it finally happened. If you had told me back when I was a kid that I would one day meet Stewart Copeland, and I told said you were crazy.