Zigaboo Modeliste is one of the most prolific drummers to hail from the Big Easy. As one of the original members of the New Orleans funk band The Meters, Modeliste was a true innovator.
Born December 28, 1948, Modeliste started out as the drummer for Fats Domino’s backup band, which eventually became The Meters. His work with The Meters inspired scores of drummers to try to “turn the beat around.” By combining the steady pulse of R&B with the reckless street beats of second-line brass bands, Modeliste devised a loose, linear drum style that used every rhythmic permutation he could possibly fit into a bar of 4/4 without repeating himself.
The Meters were the driving force behind New Orleans funk. Unlike their contemporaries who were more flamboyant in their rhythms, The Meters relied on complicated and organic rhythms that gave their music an earthy sound. The band was best known for tracks like “Hey Pocky A-Way” and “Cissy Strut.” They developed a devoted following not only among fans of their music but also inside the music industry. Soon people like Paul McCartney, Robert Palmer, Dr. John, and Patti LaBelle were recruiting them as a backing band in the studio.
But in 1983 the band came to an acrimonious end, after which Modeliste went on to play in Keith Richards’ New Barbarians. The later incarnation of The Meters, The Funky Meters, featured former members of the original outfit with Russel Batiste taking the place of Modeliste on drums.