About Dave Weckl
For more than 35 years, Dave Weckl has developed and maintained a reputation among fans, peers, and the international music community, as one of the great living drummers. His contributions to iconic music, music education, and the gear that drummers use, are many.
Modern Drummer magazine inducted Weckl into their Hall of Fame (2000) and named him “one of the 25 best drummers of all time.” These honors, in addition to many more bestowed by the music community, are the product of Weckl’s commitment to excellence. His dynamic and diverse drumming, which has inspired musicians worldwide, is built on a foundation of knowledge and passion.
Weckl was born in St. Louis Missouri, January 8th, 1960. Though his parents were not professional musicians, his mother loved music and his father played the piano as a hobby. Weckl started drums at the age of 8 playing along to records in a spare room. He eventually was allowed to move his kit into the living room where he sometimes accompanied his father on the piano.
Early on, Weckl practiced to rock records by the Monkees, Credence Clearwater Revival, and more. Rock drumming came easily and his interest quickly turned to Jack Sperling, Buddy Rich, Louie Bellson, Philly Joe Jones, and Steve Gadd, to name a few. In his early teens, Weckl’s passion for jazz and big band drumming blossomed.
During his high school years, Weckl received many awards from the NAJE (National Association of Jazz Educators) for outstanding performances in his high school’s competition-winning jazz band. He also became involved with numerous local groups starting at the age of 16 while studying with St. Louis-area teachers Bob Matheny, John DiMartino and Joe Buerger.
1979 saw a move to the East coast and the University of Bridgeport. While playing the New York club scene with a band called Nite Sprite, Weckl started receiving accolades from established studio musicians such as Steve Kahn, Michael Brecker, and Peter Erskine. It was Erskine who recommended Weckl for his first ‘big gig’ with a group called French Toast, forerunner to the Michel Camilo band. That band featured iconic electric bass player Anthony Jackson.
From this group, Jackson recommended Weckl for the prestigious 1983 Simon and Garfunkel reunion tour. This got Weckl noticed by a much larger industry audience and lead to many session opportunities including radio and TV jingles, sound track sessions, and top recording dates with George Benson, Peabo Bryson, Diana Ross, Robert Plant, and many more.
In 1985, Michael Brecker, amongst others, recommended Weckl to Chick Corea for his new Elektric Band. That was the beginning of a seven-year relationship with both the Elektric and Akoustic bands where nine recordings and three videos were produced. The Akoustic Band release earned Weckl and the band a Grammy.
The Elektric Band showcased Weckl’s cutting-edge drumming and innovative use of electronic and acoustic drums, bringing him worldwide recognition. Though the Elektric Band went on a 10-year hiatus in the early ’90s, they released a 17-part conceptual album entitled To The Stars in mid-2004. The band reunited for tours between 2011 and 2017 and Weckl toured with the Akoustic band before Corea’s death in 2021.
Weckl’s solo career began in 1990 with the release of Master Plan. Co-written/produced with longtime St. Louis friend/colleague Jay Oliver, the album was a watershed moment in Weckl’s career. Some would say it ushered in a new generation of contemporary drumming.
Master Plan featured a dynamic and diverse collection of tracks featuring top jazz artists of the time. The album created a palette for Weckl’s wide-ranging abilities in jazz, fusion, and Latin-inspired music, solidifying him as an emerging leader in the drumming world.
The album’s title track, written and performed by Chick Corea, featured Weckl and Steve Gadd on drums with Jackson on bass and Oliver on extra keys. Weckl had been seen as a protege to Gadd and their styles meshed perfectly on the track. But in many ways, the tune marked a “passing of the torch” in terms of Weckl’s next-generation artistry.
Weckl has recorded and produced nine other solo/leader recordings to date. In addition to Master Plan, Heads Up and Hard-Wired earned him great notoriety in the early ’90s.
In 1998, Weckl realized his long-time goal of forming a world-touring band. The Dave Weckl Band released five studio records, including: Rhythm Of The Soul, Synergy, Transition, Perpetual Motion, and Multiplicity. The band also released a hot live album, LIVE (And Very Plugged In) plus a compilation of DWB and instructional videos entitled The Zone.
Instructional videos have always played a big role in Weckl’s career. His original product, entitled Contemporary Drummer + 1, was one of the first in-depth play-along products ever published for drums. His Back To Basics and The Next Step releases were best-sellers in the ’90s and also continue to sell today.
Weckl updated his technical approach in the ’90s after studying with Freddie Gruber. He then released a three-part series of videos called A Natural Evolution, which included an appearance by Gruber. These products redefined earlier concepts to help drummers understand how to play in a relaxed, efficient, and musical way. They also helped solidify Weckl’s stature as an articulate and respected teacher. His clinics and master classes continue to attract capacity crowds worldwide.
After many years of sideman work with guitar legend Mike Stern, Chris Minh Doky, Oz Noy, and more, Weckl spent 2013 reuniting with Jay Oliver. They launched a crowd funding campaign that attracted more than 2,000 pre-orders of a project that would eventually be called Convergence.
The album featured 10 tunes and featured a remake of Stevie Wonder’s legendary tune “Higher Ground.” The video of “Higher Ground” has been viewed millions of times on YouTube and Facebook. Drummer Chris Coleman, bassist Jimmie Johnson, guitarist Dean Brown, singer Chrissi Poland, and top LA horn players and vocalists took part.
The project also saw collaborations with Canadian singer Emilie-Claire Barlow and “Riverdance” creator Bill Whelan. Oliver recorded several native Irish instruments at Whelan’s personal studio in Ireland. Dave’s daughter, Claire, was also featured as she sang a soulful version of “Cups (You’re Gonna Miss Me).”
Convergence was released with three companion products: a play-along package for drums, a play-along package for all other instruments on the album, and a full-length documentary entitled Flies On The Studio Wall.
In 2015, Weckl formed an acoustic jazz group with longtime friend/collaborator Tom Kennedy (bass), Gary Meek (sax), and Makoto Ozone (piano/B3). The group was called The Dave Weckl Acoustic Band. To date, the band has released a CD entitled Of The Same Mind and a live DVD filmed at Catalina Jazz Club in Hollywood.
More recently, Weckl has embarked on new ventures and relocated to a new home. He started an online school in 2016 that features more than 60 hours of lessons, play alongs, live footage, and more. He also moved back to his hometown of St. Louis (2021) to build a new studio and focus on new recording and new band projects.
Part of the inspiration for the move was reuniting The Dave Weckl Band in 2019 to play a live show in St. Louis. Held at the Chesterfield Amphitheater, the show featured original members Buzz Feiten, Tom Kennedy, and Jay Oliver plus longtime contributor Gary Meek. The show was planned and promoted by St. Louis record label Autumn Hill Records, led by brothers Rob and Michael Silverman. The label subsequently released the live album and now works with Weckl on other recording projects.
Outside of music, Weckl has a passion for automobiles and racing. He and his 2007 Corvette ZO6 have posted competitive times at racetracks around Southern California and now in the Midwest. Weckl has a YouTube channel where he posts videos from the track.
Weckl’s biggest passion is his family. His daughter, Claire, is a graduate of The University of Puget Sound (Psychology). His wife, Clivia, is a singer and recording artist. Her 2020 Autumn Hills Records release, “Love’s Way Back,” features her silky vocals and a band made up of Weckl, Kennedy, saxophonist Bob Franceschini and pianist George Whitty.
Weckl is clear about his goal as a musician and as a person. He says “it is my goal to inspire as many young (and not-so-young) people as possible to want to play music, whether it be on drums or another instrument. With all the negatives in the world today, I feel this is my way of contributing a positive action toward spiritual happiness, which music can be a big part of, if you let it. So parents, if your child has a talent for music, please allow them the opportunity to develop that talent!”