Gary was a unique drum teacher. He played on over 14,000 recording sessions, more than that, producing many hit records in the late 50s, 60s and 70s in New York City’s Brill Building era. “The Brill Building was the action spot of the music biz…like walking into the tower of song. It was a music factory on every floor. “Hard to imagine today that we could walk from office to office and see the guys actually writing the hits,” writes singer/songwriter Paul Anka in his autobiography. If you listen to classic rock and pop music, it’s hard to go through a day without hearing Gary Chester’s drumming.
Van Morrison’s “Brown-Eyed Girl,” Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me,” The Monkees’ “I’m a Believer,” Dionne Warwick’s “What the World Needs Now,” The Chiffons, “He’s So Fine,” Petula Clark, “Downtown,” Jim Croce, “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown,” John Denver’s, “Rocky Mountain High,” and The Drifters’ “Up On the Roof.” These hits barely scratch the surface of Mr. Chester’s body of work.
Gary Chester on the USA East Coast, and Hal Blaine on the West Coast were the session drummers on a majority of the pop hits of the late 50s, 60s and 70s. Gary played on over 14,000 sessions including hits such as The Chiffons (“He’s So Fine”), Petula Clark (“Downtown”), the Drifters (“Up on the Roof,” “Under the Boardwalk”), the Isley Brothers (“Twist and Shout”), Ben E. King (“Spanish Harlem,” & “Stand By Me”), Dionne Warwick (“Walk On By,” “Do You Know the Way to San Jose,” “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again,” “Say a Little Prayer”), and Van Morrison (“Brown-Eyed Girl”) along with many, many more.
From age five until 13, Gary was a poor Italian kid in the Bronx, New York City, who played in the back of his father’s barber shop. At age 13 and an immense drive & passion to play the drums, Gary left home. He knew he had to experience drumming and not just think about drumming. He began sneaking into clubs, getting together with musicians, and sitting in. He toured America with various jazz artists not long after leaving home. By his 20’s Gary was a full-time working drummer, recording sessions in NYC where musicians worked most days three, four and five sessions a day! Here is where Gary created his practical independence ideas for drum set which in 1984 was released as “The New Breed” — one of the longest and most successful selling drum instructional books in history. The New Breed is not a workbook. The NB carries with it a philosophy for drummers and drum-set. Most importantly, The NB is for creators who want to become innovators. In the early 70s Gary began teaching his first students. This core group was the start of legions of Gary Chester, later New Breed, students. The NB book is a result of all the struggles and wisdoms Gary’s life experience provided him. The New Breed reflects Gary’s desire for everyone to approach both the drums and life as a process, practicing fluidity to allow for the fullness of true independence as a drummer and a musician. Gary’s training in self-direction is a gift offered to each approaching his systems which walk a drummer into the freedom to play anything, and to be among The New Breed.