It was the early '90s. I had been playing about 6-7 years by then, and was soaking up everything from any drummer that I could. Back then it was the late night wars: Johnny Carson was retiring, Jay Leno was taking over the Tonight Show, Letterman was heading to CBS. As the Letterman show was ending its run on NBC, they were showing a best of "Late Night", with one of the segments dedicated to "The Most Dangerous Band" which Paul Schaeffer's band was, and still is, actually. The Late Night stage was too small to feature artists with their full bands, so they'd have the artist and choice musicians sit in with Paul's band, which is their forte. Before Anton Fig, the drummer for Late Night was Steve Jordan. I had always been fascinated with him because I would see his name in print and on records, and I wanted to know more about him.
I believe one of the show's musical guests was the late, great Wilson Pickett. I am not 100% sure of this, and why I will tell you soon enough. The song was "Land Of 1000 Dances" and the reason I didn't know who the artist was, was because they were featuring the song during the "na na na na" section, which is only drums, as you know. I have this moment etched in my brain from note one when I heard Steve Jordan laying down the groove for that section, and it was just a groove! Not a lick, not a fill, no pyrotechnics, just unbelievable grooving. My minds eye and ear were saying "Yes! This is what the drums should sound like in that section!" While the sound of the drums and cymbals played their part (I think he was playing 16" crashes as hats at the time), there was this "energy", this "force" that Mr. Jordan was conveying that gave the song life. It was in that moment that I realized the power of the drums to create unbelievable music moments, and that I had much more to go for myself to try and create that energy and force for the projects I perform with. It was a game-changing moment for me, for sure.
In celebration of Vic Firth Company's 50th anniversary, we've spent an entire year celebrating Game-Changing Moments in drumming -- including yours! To everyone who shared a story with us this year, thank you! Drumming is a shared experience and we are all brothers and sisters! Your stories have inspired us to continue making the best sticks possible and to continue changing the game for drummers everywhere.
We received thousands of amazing stories this year. Although it was difficult to choose only one story, we're happy to announce that Joe Russomano is our grand prize winner in the Game-Changing Moments contest!Read Joe's Story