Some people say that if you start playing music after 20 years old, then it’s too late to become “The Musician” of your dream. Well, this guy started at 21 and is easily one of the most recorded drummer, and not just any record, 300 Gold Records counting and singles after singles at the top “1” R&B charts ranging from – Albert King, Ray Charles, Bill Withers, Marvin Gaye to Cheryl Lynn, Diana Ross etc. and recently – D’Angelo. He is easily the most underrated. So I’m here to inspire you some true story from this Legend. 🙂


Never been to a music school, Gadson learn how to read music at Motown’s recording sessions. He first started to learn how to be in the pocket, playing at a bar where his band member asked him to play just a straight simple beat, back beat 2 & 4, kick 1 & 3. Of course, for the drummer, it is quite boring, so Gadson came up with the 16th note on top of the simple beat that became his signature groove. Not long after his regular club gig, he got to play with Charles Wright which leads to playing for Bill Withers, Still Bill. Listen to this intro to Kissing my Love, and his tasty placement of kick and snare and just where he opens his hi-hat.


That’s just one of them, and everybody knows “Ain’t no Sunshine”, and that famous drum break when Bill sings “I know.. I know.. I know” Who’s gonna forget?


Everybody heard of Margin Gaye, “I want You.” Gadson is the king of doing “less is more.

Anytime his back beat falls, you just wanna jump up and dance. Everybody knows Cheryl Lynn, “Got to Be Real,” when the horns start the song, ‘tah-dah-dah-dah, Tah-dah-dah-dah.” If you listen to any other disco recording after, you won’t quite dance the same. This is “1 TAKE” & no sheet music btw. [1] 😉

Not only his groove, Gadson has an amazing feel. This is Diana Ross with Love Hangover.


So these records might give you a brief history of how much Gadson’s groove and feel is a huge part of R&B/Soul and also Disco. Recently Gadson is a part of D’angelo, the king of NeoSoul, with his new record Black Messiah.


This might give you an idea how much this legend is underrated & I hope I have changed your mind. 🙂


Of course, at the time, the music industry was very different than today, where back then songwriter were not computer operators. And there was many great players to learn from. But if there is no Motown today, how are the new generation gonna learn about recording and songwriting? I’m talking about songs that are going to live a century, not songs that just come and go in a snap. I guess nowaday internet is the big source to learn from the past. So please! If after this article you’ve found more records by James Gadson please help share below or share this article anyhow, if you like it! 🙂 There are still need to be an online library of who did what in the recording world, for the music industry to flourish in another dimension.


Peace <3,





[1]  Liner Note Legends #8 :James Gadson. Nov. 29, 2015.