Basic Background Info

Birth: Unknown
Location: Unknown
Band: Chomp, The Whirlybirds
Genres: Jazz
Instruments: Drums
Occupation: Musician, Instructor


Drummer Gary Chaffee is known around the world for his teaching skills. A list of his former students is a testament to his ability - Vinnie Colaiuta, Steve Smith, and Joey Kramer to name a few of the hundreds of accomplished drummers he taught over the last thirty years.

A further testament to his skill as a teacher, Gary Chaffee served at the Chairman of the Percussion Department at the Berklee College of Music from 1972 to 1976. From then on, Gary taught students in his own private studio. Former student David Beal (Joe Cocker, Julian Lennon) testified, "Gary doesn't teach you how to play a beat, he teaches you how to conceptualize a style. In one day, he changed my whole perception of playing." Vinnie Colaiuta said, "Gary has a certain method of teaching polyrhythms and independence that's really cool. He shows you how it's broken down and what it's based on. It is really interesting and is planned out very intelligently." Gary Chaffee doesn't just teach beginners; he often assists established artists in adding depth to their playing.

Gary Chaffee also shared his drumming genius and teaching methods by authoring several books. Gary Chaffee's wildly popular four-volume series on patterns includes Rythm & Meter, Sticking, Time Functioning, and Technique. His most recent text is Linear Time Playing. Garyís videos (Phrasing & Motion and Sticking Time, Linear Time, Rhythm & Meter) offer additional learning resources.

In addition to educating, Gary Chaffee is a regular performer. He has played with Pat Metheny, Dave Samuels, Abe Laboriel, Jaco Pastorius, Mike Stern, Steve Swallow, Mick Goodrick, John Abercrombie, Bill Frisell, Palle Danielsson, and Tom Harrell.

Recently Gary Chaffee has been performing in the duo The Whirlybirds with fellow percussionist Steve Houghton. Their intense performances "combine the diversity of Stomp and the Precision of Riverdance to create a whirlwind of music and sound experiences." The duo has performed throughout the U.S., Canada, and the U.K.

Gary Chaffee also performs with a group of Boston drummers called Chomp. Gary himself masterminded this improvisational percussion group and leads them through fresh, spontaneous performances.


1990 Biorhythms Mick Goodrick
1992 CMPler 2 Various Artists
1993 Sunscreams Mick Goodrick
1998 World of Drums & Percussion Various Artists
1999 Ram Records Jazz Sampler Various Artists
2004 Quintology Greg Hopkins Quintet
2006 New Blood Sai Ghose Quartet


  • "After playing on my own for twenty some odd years, Gary Chaffee has helped me to open up new doors for myself. My playing is now more fun and more challenging." -Joey Kramer of Aerosmith

Instruments of Choice



Drums: Yamaha
Cymbals: Zildjian
Heads: Remo
Sticks: Zildjian

Pics & Clips