Steve Gadd “Chuck E’s in Love” drum fill transcription

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.

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