Ndugu Chancler, Drummer On Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean," Dead At 65
Ndugu Chancler, the jazz drummer most notably known for drumming on Michael Jackson’s pop magnum opus “Billie Jean,” has passed away at the age of 65.
Currently, the cause of Chancler’s death is unknown but a number of artists have taken to social media to express their condolences.
In my opinion, the “Billie Jean” intro is the greatest example of something so simple that you take it for granted. But if you truly dissect it. It’s a complex compelling performance. The tone is spot on. Enough snap on the snare but not too thin that it enters Ska/James Brown crack snare territory. The amount of reverb #BruceSwedien applies is SPOT on perfect. The performance However is timeless like a tuxedo. Or a pair of chucks. Or jeans and white t shirt. It literally gives MJ his dna. You know what it is ONE SECOND in. Its creator, Jazz/funk great #NduguChancler (mind you on a GAZILLION other hit songs) passed away today. Giving all due respect and praise to the drummer that sparked a revolution of dance madness breakbeat mania. Rest easy king!
“In my opinion, the ‘Billie Jean’ intro is the greatest example of something so simple that you take it for granted,” Questlove wrote on Instagram. “Giving all due respect and praise to the drummer that sparked a revolution of dance madness breakbeat mania.”
Paiste Cymbals, who endorsed Chandler throughout his career, also expressed their condolences.
“We are very sad to hear of the passing of Ndugu Chancler. Ndugu and Paiste formed a amazing bond that has blossomed over the 46 years that he was endorsed with the Paiste family. He was a amazing friend and a pioneer in the drumming world. He will be dearly missed by his friends and colleagues throughout the music industry. He was an inspiration to all young musicians and his legacy and life teachings will live on through them.”
We are very sad to hear of the passing of Ndugu Chancler. Ndugu and Paiste formed a amazing bond that has blossomed over…
Born on July 1, 1952 in Shreveport, Louisiana, Chancler began playing drums at the age of 13 and had already played and recorded with Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard, and Bobby Hutcherson by the Time he graduated college.
Throughout his career Chancler would also record with George Benson, Stanley Clarke, The Crusaders, George Duke, Herbie Hancock, John Lee Hooker, Hubert Laws, Thelonious Monk, Jean-Luc Ponty, Lionel Richie, Kenny Rogers, Patrice Rushen, Carlos Santana, Frank Sinatra, Donna Summer, The Temptations, Tina Turner, and Weather Report.
Read other condolences for Chancler below.
We lost another legend.
Leon Ndugu Chancler
Played drums for some of my favorite artist. Michael Jackson, The Crusaders, George Duke, Bill Summers, David Axelrod, Herbie Hancock, Mtume, Patrice Rushen and so many more.
Thank you for all the music.
— J.Rocc (@jrocc) February 3, 2018
— Mark Schulman (@markyplanet) February 4, 2018
We lost an amazing GROOVE and person. RIP Leon Ndugu Chancler.
— Keith Carlock (@KeithCarlock) February 4, 2018