James Gadson

James Gadson (born June 17, 1939) is an American drummer and session musician. Beginning his career in the late 1960s, Gadson has since become one of the most-recorded drummers in the history of R&B. He is also a singer and songwriter.

Born in Kansas City, Missouri, Gadson played with the first line-up of Charles Wright's Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band, and recorded three albums with them between 1968 and 1970. Along with other members of Wright's band he went on to appear on many hit records, including with Dyke & the Blazers. Gadson started to become well known as a drummer following the release of the album Still Bill by Bill Withers, released by Sussex Records in 1972. He played on The Temptations album 1990, released on the Motown label in 1973. In 1975 he played with Freddie King on Larger Than Life and went on to record with Martha Reeves, Randy Crawford, Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock, B.B. King, Albert King, Rose Royce, Elkie Brooks and many more artists. In 1975 he anchored the Motown classic double platinum album City Of Angels, recorded by Billy Griffin & The Miracles.

Gadson was also the drummer on Marvin Gaye's "I Want You" in 1976 and Diana Ross's hit 1976 single Love Hangover and appeared on two tracks, "At The Mercy" and "Riding To Vanity Fair", on the 2005 Paul McCartney album Chaos and Creation in the Backyard.

He has a brief appearance in the Adam Sandler 2009 movie Funny People as a member of the jam band that Sandler's character hires to play with him.

In April 2009, Gadson joined Alex Dixon, grandson of Willie Dixon, on his 2009 release titled Rising From The Bushes, in which he appeared on two tracks, "Fantasy" and Willie Dixon's famous song "Spoonful".

In June 2009, Gadson joined Beck, Wilco, Feist and Jamie Lidell covering Skip Spence's Oar as part of Beck's Record Club series, with videos appearing on Beck's website beginning November 2009. He has drummed on Beck's albums Sea Change, The Information and Morning Phase, as well as Jamie Lidell's 2010 album Compass. Gadson played drums, as well as hambone (slapping his legs), on the D'Angelo song "Sugah Daddy", on the Black Messiah album (2014).

In 2019, James Gadson, who resides in Los Angeles, was featured on Gordon Ramsay's 24 Hours to Hell and Back as his paternal niece's and nephew-in-law's restaurant, Bayou on the Vines, was renamed "Gadson's Restaurant & Jazz Club", named after him and his late brother, guitarist Thomas Maurice 'Tutty' Gadson (died 2014).

Birth and Death Data: Born June 17th, 1939 (Kansas City)

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1967 - 1968

Roles Represented in DAHR: drums


Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Decca 119090 6/19/1967 It's got to be mellow Leon Haywood instrumentalist, drums  
Decca 119091 6/19/1967 Cornbread and buttermilk Leon Haywood instrumentalist, drums  
Decca 119519 10/20/1967 Mellow moonlight Leon Haywood instrumentalist, drums  
Decca 119520 10/20/1967 Hold on I'm coming Leon Haywood instrumentalist, drums  
Decca L 15011 9/4/1968 Blues get off my shoulder Leon Haywood ; Leon Haywood ; Leon Haywood instrumentalist, drums  
Decca L 15012 9/4/1968 Everybody will be like a holiday Leon Haywood ; Leon Haywood ; Leon Haywood instrumentalist, drums  


Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Gadson, James," accessed February 26, 2021, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/316783.

Gadson, James. (2021). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved February 26, 2021, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/316783.

"Gadson, James." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2021. Web. 26 February 2021.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

URI: https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/316783


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