Narada Michael Walden

“I’m not sure I really deserve to be in this magazine as a musician because who am I? But I do feel that if I’m going to be in it, it is just to inspire musicians to lead better lives so that their music will be higher and pure. Whatever your life is, is what the music is. It’s just an extension of your own life and your heart and soul. If you’re a great musician and you have a great gift, it comes from the Supreme. God created everything and it’s a gift. So all I’m trying to say is that the better life you lead, the better it is for your music. God is inside of you. I was searching a lot throughout the years and didn’t realize that was what I was searching for. As a musician, I couldn’t put my hand on it, but when I would play, sometimes it would be so soulful that tears would stream down my cheeks or it would be so soulful that I would just feel everything. There was no body reality, just pure soul, pure expression, and after I’d play, I would say, ‘How come this experience can’t continue?’ Little did I know that I had to discipline myself to make it happen. I had to become closer with my own heart and soul so that I knew what the feeling was and where to get it so it would last longer. The reason musicians do drugs is that they know about something high and they think, ‘If I do this drug, maybe it will help me get there.’ If you learn to meditate or do something spiritual, you can learn to do it naturally and it’s real.

“Everything in life has Divine reason and I want everybody who reads this magazine to know that everything you do has Divine purpose. There is a law of Karma. Everything good you do will come back and everything you do that isn’t right, will come back on you. It may not be right away, but everything comes around. All I’m saying is to lead good lives because it will only help you to be a better person, a better musician, and help you to meet your goals.”

Such is the philosophy of Narada Michael Walden whose every aspect of life is spiritually inspired and governed by his devotion to God. After a multitude of hard times, professionally and personally, about which he spoke very candidly, Walden’s life changed radically when he came in contact with John McLaughlin and guru Sri Chinmoy in 1973. Within the last few years, he has emerged as a successful singer, player, songwriter and producer, and although he plays several instruments, Walden says he has always felt the greatest affinity with the drums.

Like many, he began at around age three by beating on pots and pans, often supplying his beat to records. His favorite, he recalls, was an album by Horace Silver, with which he played constantly, as well as Jimmy Smith’s “The Sermon,” where he would play along with Art Blakey’s “incredible groove.”

Jazz was his earliest influence, however, he says, “In Michigan, where I was raised, I heard every kind of music so it wasn’t so specialized. I was really influenced by all kinds; everything from pop to rock to jazz and the Motown sound. I love all kinds of music, which is why I do all of it.”

His grandfather bought him his first set when he was 9, which was a Ludwig snare drum and bass drum that had a stand in the middle with a little cymbal on top, and the following Christmas, he received his hi-hat cymbals.

Rudimental lessons followed with a couple of instructors, and after a while he began studying with Harold Mason who has played with the Fifth Dimension and Stevie Wonder.

“He really inspired me a lot. He was very much into independence, the Jim Chapin book, and really drilling you on being independent. He was one of the finest black drummers to come out of Kalamazoo, Michigan, which is not a very heavily black-populated area. He had the essence of jazz down and was also very technical and put it all together for me.”

Mason was one of his last teachers at about 13 years old, but about that time he began playing in a Jimmy Smith kind of group called the Ambassadors. After that, Walden began to become more rock influenced and started putting his own bands together in which he often played bass guitar.

“I wanted to try to see music from a different side, so I played bass in a lot of different rock groups and sang to see what that was all about.”

He also taught himself to play keyboards and because he was interested in exploring all creative avenues, he began studying acting at age 16 as well, which eventually led him to composing.

“I was going to an actor’s camp where I had been given a scholarship. I was walking around campus and hanging around the record shop when I heard this music coming out of it and this woman who would take her voice and harmonize and do all kinds of things and wrote everything too. She was Laura Nyro and the album was called Eli and the 13th Confession, and this album just turned me all around, for whatever reasons. I fell in love with her and her writing and what she was doing. I took this album back to my dormitory and it really inspired me to get heavier into my composing. If you listen to that record, you’ll hear what I mean. She’s so deep. She’ll start a song with blues and it’ll go through all kinds of changes and come back, and her harmonic approach is just so advanced. She really gave me a kick in the butt to keep on writing.”

During his junior and senior years in high school, Walden continued to become more heavily rock oriented. He then was offered the Martin Luther King Scholarship to attend college on the condition that he would also participate in their summer music program.

“On the one hand, I was very happy to have been offered the scholarship, but on the other hand, I didn’t want to spend my whole summer in school. I had been very much looking forward to hopping in my car and driving out to California and seeing a different side of life before going to college. So I hopped in my car anyway, figuring that two weeks was better than nothing, and drove my friend out there, whose father was in the film business. I stayed there and it was something I had never seen before. We stayed out by the ocean and I think hearing a lot of the ocean back then reaffirmed my playing. On my cymbals I was trying to imitate ocean effects and I would try to get waves of intensity going with my drumming.

“Up until then I had never gotten into drugs or anything either, but on my way back, I stopped in Mexico and there were these cartoonists at this place I stopped and I gave them a ride. They asked me if I wanted to get home fast and gave me this pill, which was supposed to get me there quickly. I didn’t know, but it was speed.”

Drugs became more prevalent when he joined a band called Deacon Williams and the Soul Revival after becoming quickly dissatisfied with school.

“I enjoyed learning theory and all that stuff, but I wasn’t getting the playing I needed. That’s the sad part about college. They cram you with all this great stuff, but if you’re a player, you have to play. I got frustrated after about three semesters and joined the band as they came through town. I packed up my things, threw them in their old school bus and we started playing different clubs all across the country making our way out to California.”

While living with cousins in Southern California, Walden played with a variety of bands, finally joining a rock band where he experienced his final drug day.

“The lead singer had connections with the Rolling Stones’ manager and he was going to come where we were playing at this big ballroom in Los Angeles. My cousins were there and everything, and a friend said, ‘Hey, before you go on stage, do you want to smoke some grass?’ So I took a hit of this stuff and little did I know, it wasn’t grass—it was angel dust. I went on stage and we started playing and I would crash the cymbal but it wouldn’t register until two or three seconds later. I would play the tom and wouldn’t hear it until a second later and something very weird was happening. People’s faces started contorting and a really bad trip was coming on. After about three numbers, I stood up and told them, ‘I love you, but I can’t play,’ and I went backstage, laid down and passed out. I woke up and this girl was holding my head and the lead singer was backstage, freaking out because the Rolling Stones’ manager was there. The guy wanted to beat me up and my cousin had to restrain him. He was really right, though, and right before I had left the stage, I heard God saying to me, ‘See? This is what happens if you do drugs. I’m doing this so you can see what happens if you do drugs.’ ”

About this time, Walden had begun to become more familiar with the Mahavishnu Orchestra, which inspired his playing.

“I was familiar with Cobham on the Dreams album and that had floored me. Cobham, back then, was THE greatest drummer to ever play because, not only did he have a phenomenal technique, but because of his life’s intensity and life’s experience, he was playing brand new things—things you had never heard before.”

Spiritually, he was inspired by a record by Alice Coltrane, which was dedicated to meditation. “I knew that Alice and Mahavishnu had their hand on something very heavy. I knew there was something there, I just knew it. I had to discover it, so I tried to figure out what it was. I sat down and tried to meditate and feel what they were feeling and I began to feel something inwardly and knew it was valid.”

He was called to join a group in Miami and visited the center of gurus of Sri Chinmoy, meeting a disciple named Ina, which eventually led to his meeting McLaughlin when the band moved to Connecticut.

Narada Michael Walden
photo by Linda Matlow

“Pretty soon Mahavishnu and the Orchestra were coming through Danbury, Connecticut and the Birds of Fire album had come out and we were all mesmerized by it. So we went to the concert and as soon as I walked in, from the back of the auditorium, I looked on stage and saw Mahavishnu and he was wearing all white. When Mahavishnu is really, really playing, he rocks back and forth, and Cobham and everybody weren’t even playing real hard. They were kind of taking it easy for a second, but the intensity Mahavishnu had, started growing and growing and growing. It was incredible. Idea after idea started flowing through him. He’d play cat and mouse with the ideas and then cat and mouse with those ideas. It was a chain reaction that would never stop. It was pure genius before my eyes and the closer I got to the stage, the more I could feel it. I had never seen anything like that in my life. Then after the song would finish, he would speak and he would mesmerize everyone. So after they played ‘Birds of Fire’ and Billy took this incredible solo, I was in some other world and the whole audience could not believe what had just come down. It was just God-ordained. It was not earthly or human anymore.

“So I saw this man on the side of the stage wearing all white and I knew he was a disciple. I went over to him and told him I knew Ina and was very interested in becoming a disciple. He knew Ina and took me backstage. I just stood there, taking it all in, very shy and very nervous, all of 20 years old, and Mahavishnu was off in the other room drying off. We met and he asked me to tell him about myself, so I said, ‘My name is Michael Walden, I’m a drummer and I’m so in love with you, I can’t tell you. Please help me to be more like you. I want to be as creative as you are.’ He smiled and said, ‘I can tell you’re ready.’ He was seeing guru at 6:00 the next morning and said he would ask him about seeing me, so I gave him my phone number. A few days later, Mahavishnu called me on the phone, which I couldn’t believe, and told me guru knew all about me and I should go to the meditation center. I knew the disciples wear white and are clean shaven, so I shaved my beard off and put on white clothes and went and it was all it was said to be. It changed my life.”

He returned to Connecticut, still playing with the band while his lifestyle was changing radically and then the guru asked that he join a band called Jatra. During the first concert for the guru, McLaughlin was present, and afterwards, Walden recalls, “Guru came up on stage and said, ‘Now for an encore, Mahavishnu will play with Michael.’ It was out of the blue! So Mahavishnu had this little-bitty guitar with him, he plugged in and we started playing this thing in 9/4 and I started grooving with him and he started soloing over it and then we just started taking it further out and then came back. And Mahavishnu said, ‘You’re really good. I like you.’ So that was really when we made that connection on the musical end and ever since then, on weekends when he’d be home from the Mahavishnu Orchestra, he would invite me to come down and stay at his place and play with him. I was just in heaven.

“Eventually, though, it became hard for Jatra to find work, so I had to find a job as a busboy. Mahavishnu would call me every so often from the road with the Orchestra. One night, I remember, he called me and said he was thinking of starting a new band and he wanted to keep Billy with him. But about a month after that, he called from Puerto Rico and asked me to join him.

“We started by just the two of us playing together so I could learn how to work with him. Playing with Mahavishnu is something very, very special because he knows drums and time better than most drummers. From working with Billy and Tony Williams and all those great people, he’s got it down. So he started teaching me a lot of different phrasings and Indian music rhythms.”

Putting together a group with Ralphe Armstrong, Gayle Moran, Jean-Luc Ponty and Walden, the first concert was with the Buffalo Philharmonic. McLaughlin decided to make an orchestral album, Visions of the Emerald Beyond, which Walden says is some of his finest playing. For their next record, McLaughlin decided he wanted to make a record as a quartet, Inner World, afterwhich, Jeff Beck, who had been touring with them, asked Walden to play on his Wired album. Walden had the opportunity to write for both projects, and while Wired went gold, Inner World didn’t do as well and McLaughlin decided to terminate the Orchestra and play acoustic guitar. It took a while for Walden to adjust to the end of the Orchestra, but he began to play some sessions, one of which was with Weather Report. He suggested Jaco Pastorius to the group when Alfonso Johnson left. They fell in love with both Pastorius and Walden and asked both to join.

“But because I had just finished playing with Mahavishnu and the whole jazz audience, I felt that maybe I’d rather tour with Jeff Beck and see what that kind of music was all about. So I waited for Jeff to tour, but he decided not to and I got an offer from Tommy Bolin who had played on Billy’s first album, Spectrum, and I went on the road with him. We did a lot of great playing and it was a lot of fun. There was a big difference as far as audiences in that jazz audiences sit and listen, but rockers go crazy. So it was fun to play a solo and have people go bananas. That was great for a while, until it started getting crazy and Tommy started doing a lot of drugs and really couldn’t control it. So I decided to leave the band and it was around that time that I felt it was time to start doing my own record.”

Every record company rejected the demo Walden put together until Atlantic negotiated what he called a “typical jazz contract,” which did not include an abundance of money and meant giving up partial publishing. His debut solo album, Garden of Love Light, in 1976, did not do terribly well, but some of the radio stations picked up on a tune called “Delightful” which was more commercial than the others. On his next effort, he attempted to be primarily commercial, but I Cry, I Smile, again, did not meet with great response.

“I had my own following, but it wasn’t a great-sellng record, so Atlantic said, This doesn’t seem to be working real well. On the next record, if you don’t get a hit single, we’re going to have to drop you.’ I was going to work with Wayne Henderson as producer, but suddenly he said he was too busy, so he’d put me in touch with someone. I didn’t like that, and I became very bitter about the whole thing. I recorded a lot of stuff, which I didn’t like, nor did Atlantic, and it became side two of the record. At this time, disco was very, very big and I went to New York and recorded all this music. I was lucky enough to have a hit which is on side one called ‘I Don’t Want Anybody Else to Dance With You.’ It was a big disco hit and put me on the map and kept me recording for Atlantic Records. That was the Awakening album.”

He toured behind the latter two records, first opening for the CBS All Stars which included Alfonso Johnson, Billy Cobham and Tom Scott and then he opened for Patty LaBelle.

“I never thought I was the greatest singer, but I did it because I had to. People relate to the voice and it’s hard to get hit records unless somebody is singing on them. It didn’t change my playing at all because I have a pretty good coordination to do it. I had to simplify it, though, and when you do disco, you learn to do drum fills over keeping your foot straight, so that was different and it was great.”

His Dance of Life album contained a pair of hits this time, “I Shoulda Loved Ya” and “Tonight I’m Alright” and he set out on another tour, this time playing large stadiums along with the Brothers Johnson and Rufus and Chaka Kahn.

His Victory album is his fifth and most current, although he is presently working on his sixth. Recently, his primary attentions have turned to producing. Earlier in his career he’d had some experience with producing Don Cherry and Nova as well as some of his own projects. Lately he has produced Statcy Lattisaw, which spawned a top-20 hit, “Let me be Your Angel,” then Sister Sledge’s All American Girls, his sister-in-law, Wanda Walden, a single for Amy Stewart, Angela Bofill and tracks on Herbie Hancock’s current album.

“It’s something I knew I could do,” he explained. “Plus, back when I was looking for producers, the producers who are good are very difficult to get. If you want Quincy Jones or Ted Tempelman, it’s almost impossible unless you want to wait three years. There’s a big need for producers and a big need for a producer who has musical know-how, but yet, who has a lot of love. I feel that artists need a lot of love and producers have to be the ones to provide it. You have to really be there to hold the artists’ hand and make sure everything comes out right.”

He writes almost all of the material for those he produces, as well as playing drums on the tracks.

“I haven’t yet wanted to call in another drummer when I’m producing something, although I’m sure at some point, I will. Being the drummer I am and the perfectionist I am, I’m usually hearing my own thing, so I go ahead and do it. Production hasn’t yet conflicted with playing, but I can see how it could. You develop a skill of being objective, though. In my ‘phones, I have the keyboard, guitar, bass and drums and you learn to listen intently. So when I go in there, I know what I’ve got because I’ve heard it happen. I’m not just listening from a drummer’s point of view. The key is rehearsal. I rehearse every project I do to death. I know everything I want to do so when I get down there, it’s just a matter of getting the great performance. You know when you get that great performance because you can feel it.

“For top-40 music and commercial recordings, it has to be perfect. There can’t be any rushes or dragging, and while I know a lot of folks are against it, a lot of it is done with a drum machine. When I do a commercial record, I know I want to compete for that top number one position. I always use a click track and I have it real loud in my ‘phones. I want that track to be so tight. Not only that, but say you have a perfect beginning and you want to pick it up at the bridge. You don’t have to go back to the beginning and start all over. You can take it right from the bridge because you know the tempo is exactly the same and you take it right on all the way through. Back earlier, I always used a click, but now what I do is use something even better, the Linn LM-1 Drum Machine. I put on a cabasa or some kind of little rhythm thing and put that real loud in my ‘phones and just groove with it. Every track comes out sounding flawless. I’m not saying I use it on everything, but I do when I know I want to be perfect. We are humans and very emotional people and the time can sway, but when you’re talking about something that someone’s going to be listening to over and over again, you want it to be great and perfect. I really am all for perfect time. That’s what Quincy Jones does too. Listen to the Michael Jackson Off the Wall record, Benson’s record, and the Brothers Johnson records that Quincy produced. He’s got John Robinson who is probably one of the greatest drummers to ever live, just as far as keeping time down. Everything John does is with a click. It’s an art to be able to have a click in your ‘phones and make it sound natural, and while a lot of people would say, ‘Man, that’s a cop-out. How come you can’t do it yourself?’ Okay, you try and do it. There was a day when Sly Stone was big and he was auditioning drummers and he had a big Rhythm Ace. He’d put the Rhythm Ace on real slow and he’d want you to groove with it. I don’t think there was anybody who could do it. It’s hard to play with a drum machine, particularly if it’s a slow tempo. You always want to rush and pull, but that’s how he could tell who was a bad drummer and who wasn’t.

“I wish more drummers would take commercial music more seriously and would take producing records more seriously. It’s a real art. A lot of people are real snobby about it. I got a lot of bad letters back when I was playing good dance music, disco, asking why I was playing that stuff and why I wasn’t doing all the paradiddles. I’m telling you, it takes just as much know-how and discipline to play that music as it does to bash. In fact, I think it’s harder playing time than it is just to bash. You talk to Steve Gadd. Gadd spent hours and hours and hours just with a metronome to learn what time was all about. Why do you think he’s so great? Sure he had great technique, but he needed better timing and he worked on it and that’s why he is one of the best studio drummers, because his time is impeccable. If you think everything is about bashing and how fast you can play, but you overlook time, you are overlooking the root of it all.

Narada Michael Walden“The drums are an acoustical instrument and there’s a great art to just being able to mike them and get an unbelievable sound. The key to a great record is the drum sound. You could have mediocre bass, mediocre keyboard and a mediocre guitar, but if your drum sound is fat and full—you’ll have a great record. If you don’t know how to attain that, get a good engineer and learn. I’m very lucky because I work with a guy by the name of Bobby Clearmountain and he’s got to be one of the best engineers ever. Back when I didn’t know diddlysquat about tuning a snare drum, he would come out and say, ‘Narada, get out of the way,’ and he’d do it. Live, a lot of cats want to tune them so high it’ll cut across the band, but it’s a different story when you’re recording. I always thought that tight snares on the bottom would be hip, but it’s not. It’s loose snares on the bottom that makes it sound tight, so I had to be taught these things. So if you don’t know a lot, work with a good engineer. I just try to get the best acoustic sound I can get. I try to get the biggest, fattest, most natural sound I can get. I love the sound Peter Asher gets on some of the James Taylor stuff, and Quincy’s things.”

He has just begun to endorse Pearl drums and they are currently in the process of designing a custom set for him. When performing live, he uses a double bass set with two 24″ bass drums, but for recording he feels he only needs one of them along with three, sometimes four, toms, sizes varying, but generally a 12″, 13″, 15″ and 16″.

He still has his white Gretsch set which be bought and used back in the days when he played with the Mahavishnu Orchestra, and he enjoys fooling with them out in his garage.

“I’m a connoisseur of sound,” he states. “I love fat drums and where the tone is huge. Even if it’s a high-pitched drum, I still want that fat tone on it. On the snare, I want to have a lot of top and bottom. I dig the depth and fatness of an Eagles snare drum, but still for the top to cut. I like extremes in drums, a lot of top and bottom and that’s one of the reasons I also like Yamaha Drums.”

For live gigs, he uses Pinstripe heads and doesn’t muffle, except for a slight amount on the snare. In the studio he uses Ambassadors on the snare and toms, although on the Angela Bofill record, he used Emperor clear heads on the toms, which he says gave them a nice deep sound.

“As far as tuning, I take kleenex and roll it real nice and tape it to the head. On the snare, I’ll make two little pads right next to each other so the head is a little bit dead, but not too dead. Then I’ll tune the head up a little bit and loosen the snares. The looser the snares are, the bigger and brighter the drum is going to be when recording it. It seems like when you’re hitting it and the snares are tight, it’s very crispy and it would be very crispy on tape. But what happens is that you get a very small drum that way. If you loosen the snares a bit, there will be a point or a spot where the drum will open up, tonewise. You get a little bit of the tom-tom sound in it where the snares are a little loose, but there’s a place where they’re loose and not too loose, where it sounds great; very fat and crispy.

“I put tape right on the edge of the heads on the toms also so all the overtones are killed out; the ringing. The problem you have is that if you leave everything wide open, when you’re playing a groove on the snare and bass drum, the toms may ring and you don’t get a real tight sound.”

He has recently begun using Paiste cymbals. “Earlier, I really didn’t like Paiste because I thought they were too thin, but recently, the Paistes sound great to me. I’ve been using them in the studio and they sound so clear and precise and ring so beautifully.

“Back with Mahavishnu I used eight or nine cymbals, but now, because I’m singing and playing, I’ve got to be visible when playing live. I position the drum kit so you can see me, and the cymbals aren’t hiding my face. They’re off to the side and I don’t use as many as I used to. I use a big 18″ on my left side, a small 10″ on my left, a ride on my right, a 20″ crash and then a big 30″ crash below that and my hi-hats. I’m using the hi-hats with the crunchy bottom [Sound-edge] now which I didn’t like until I sat in one time with the Santana band. When I sat in with them, I thought, These Paistes really do cut. I’m not beating them to make them sound like something.’ I really do play loud. I’m starting to come down though and on this album I’m doing now, I’m really playing light. But all my life I’ve been one of your American bashers.”

His idea of a good solo has changed also. “Back when Cobham was huge, I think we were all very much inspired by technique and by the speed of it all. Back with Mahavishnu, the thing I used to go for was to play my heart out and use a lot of techniques. Now I’m finding when I’m soloing, I go more for groove solos. It’s not about just a free-for-all. It’s more for showing how diversified you are in soloing over a groove or with a groove. The people can feel it more. If you’re talking about entertaining an audience, I feel they get more out of it and they appreciate it and applaud and go crazy, the more things you do with time than if it’s free time. So I’ve been getting off doing time solos, just seeing how crazy I can get doing time.”

He is also working on opening a school, hoping that by the time this article appears, it will have been completed. He plans on having a big building and tapping the local drummers to teach such as Steve Smith and Joe Barbara, to mention just a couple. He will offer four halfhour lessons for $54, three of which will be taught by his understudies and one by him.

“Back about two years ago, when I first got married and moved to San Francisco, I taught to survive. I had taught in New York and eventually had 75 students out here. What I did was learn all of Gadd’s stuff, all different Mason stuff, everything that was hip. I gained a great knowledge and love for Gadd and all different players. I would come in with the student, sit down on the pad or snare and just work on the hands and warm up for 10 or 15 minutes doing paradiddles. I am a paradiddle freak. We’d start slow and work up to fast. A lot of guys can’t play fast paradiddles, but I’m a firm believer that if you can play fast paradiddles, clean and tight, you can do almost everything. Then we’d do short paradiddles and make different patterns and then I’d take a five-stroke roll and make patterns out of that, a seven-stroke roll, then a single-stroke roll and give them all kinds of patterns. I’d go over different hand exercises and then show them hip combinations and ways they could apply them to the kit, because that’s what’s really important, how you can use it on the kit. I’d show them how to use hi-hat/snare grooves and how to use them back and forth. Then I’d also work on grooves and I’d put my drum machine on and work on just holding time with it. Then we’d spend the last half hour just bashing and I’d show them different ways of playing in seven, different ways of playing in nine, different ways of doing fills in seven, doing fills in nine, doing fills in four, different grooves, different ways of being able to hold independence. That’s why Gadd is so great. He gives you the feeling of having a great groove going on, but still playing on top of it. With Gadd, you hear a cymbal, a tom-tom, a snare, a hi-hat and bass drum all at the same time. So I would show them how to use their left hands more. A lot of guys just play snare with the left hand and nothing more, so I would try to expand their technique and expand their ear. A lot of it is being able to hear.”

In addition to all of his other projects, he is working with a 4-piece band in the Bay area called the Warriors, which he explains, gives him a chance to open up again, defining their music as progressive. “It’s a really good playing outlet. I’d missed playing and I wanted to get my chops back up and I feel that I’ve really gotten them back together again. We’ll probably record sometime next year.”

He is also working on putting a book of exercises together in his spare time, of which there is little.

Now that the hard times are over, Walden re-emphasizes, “Everything in life has Divine reason. When Billy Cobham left Mahavishnu Orchestra, Mahavishnu could have had anyone. I read in your polls that Steve Gadd was chosen to be the drummer of the year and he’s worthy. He’s unbelievable! I love him and he could have been chosen to take Billy’s place. There are so many great drummers that could have been chosen for that gig, yet I was chosen. I was only 21 years old and playing with them. I made my first record called Apocalypse with George Martin, the Beatles’ producer, and with the London Symphony Orchestra. It was a very heavy experience. But there are reasons why things happen and there was a reason why I was chosen. Maybe I’m not the greatest drummer, but maybe I’ve got a big enough mouth to say, ‘Hey, I was chosen because I was lucky; because I had something to say; because God gave me that chance.’ And He’ll give you the chance too—just let him. I was a busboy in a restaurant when Mahavishnu called and asked me to come play with him. Can you imagine going from being a busboy to flying to London, England to make a record? I know all these cats grueling it out playing those three sets every night are asking how they are going to get discovered. Who’s going to come along? How’s it going to happen? If you put your ego first, what you want first, if you put what you think ought to happen first, you may chase your tail. I’m telling you, put first things first. Put the Supreme’s will first and everything will follow. There’s hope for everyone.”