Chad Smith: Early Chili Peppers Licks

One of the funkiest rock drummers around, Chad Smith’s musical, percolating grooves provide the anchor for the Red Hot Chili Peppers. But he also happens to be one very lucky dude. Because unlike many other drummers who struggle to the top along with their bandmates, Smith waltzed into the Chili Peppers in 1989, after the band had paid its dues on the L.A. club scene, released a handful of albums to little acclaim, endured tragedy and loss, and was poised to burst into the mainstream. His first two albums with the band – Mother’s Milk and Blood Sugar Sex Magik – established Smith as a major force in alternative rock. Here are a few examples of his drumming culled from those first two groundbreaking CDs.

“If You Have To Ask”
From Blood Sugar Sex Magik

For this great drum track, Smith uses a swung sixteenth-note feel and ghost notes to keep things funky. For the opening beat, he plays loud backbeats that are followed by much softer snare notes on the e’s of 2 and 4. He constantly varies the pattern in small ways to keep it interesting. Later, a swung two-handed sixteenth-note groove is used to perfectly mesh with the rhythm guitar. There’s a funky drum break at 2:09 that uses open hi-hats on the &’s while Smith moves his right hand back and forth between his hi-hat and snare, which ends with the perfect triplet fill.

DRUM! Notation Guide

“Breaking The Girl”
From Blood Sugar Sex Magik

This funky 12/8 groove owes its inspiration to Jimi Hendrix’s “Manic Depression” with its repeating tom fills that fit seamlessly into the fabric of the song.

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