Carlos Vega

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Carlos Vega (December 7, 1956 – April 7, 1998) was a Cuban-born Los Angeles-based session drummer best known for his performances with James Taylor. As a part of the L.A. studio scene from the late 1970s through the 1990s, Vega contributed to a wide variety of music during the rise and popularity of the California singer-songwriter movement.


Carlos Vega was born in Cuba on December 7, 1956 and grew up in Los Angeles, California with his parents and had one older sister, Sue. He attended Eagle Rock High School in a suburb of Los Angeles. He knew Grant High School students and collaborated with such future artists as Michael Landau, Jeff Porcaro, and Steve Lukather.

Vega co-formed his first band, Karizma, in 1975 with Michael Landau, David Garfield, Lenny Castro, and Jimmy Johnson.[1]

Vega performed with a wide variety of musicians across many genres,[2] including a 13-year collaboration with James Taylor[3] (featured on Live, Hourglass, Never Die Young, and New Moon Shine) and on Olivia Newton-John's double platinum album, Physical. He performed on the soundtrack for the film Grease.[4]

As a musician, Vega was a major influence on Jeff Porcaro, another outstanding Los Angeles studio musician and drummer for Toto.[5]

During a break from a James Taylor tour, on April 7, 1998, Vega died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.[6] While most media reports stated that he died at home, it has also been written that his body was found on a deserted road overlooking Los Angeles.[7]

Since his death, there have been annual Carlos Vega Memorial Birthday Concerts, featuring drumming greats like Steve Ferrone and John Robinson.[8][9]

Selected Discography[edit]


  1. ^ "David Garfield : Creatchy : Keyboard Player". Retrieved January 15, 2018.
  2. ^ "Carlos Vega | Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved January 15, 2018.
  3. ^ "Drummerworld: Carlos Vega". Retrieved January 15, 2018.
  4. ^ Kleiser, Randal (June 16, 1978), Grease, John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Stockard Channing, retrieved January 15, 2018
  5. ^ "Carlos Vega". Archived from the original on November 22, 2001. Retrieved January 15, 2018.
  6. ^ Inc, Nielsen Business Media (April 25, 1998). Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. {{cite book}}: |last= has generic name (help)
  7. ^ Talevski, Nick (April 7, 2010). Rock Obituaries - Knocking On Heaven's Door. Omnibus Press. ISBN 9780857121172.
  8. ^ "Carlos Vega Memorial Birthday Concert | Modern Drummer Magazine". Modern Drummer Magazine. November 27, 2013. Retrieved September 4, 2018.
  9. ^ "Nineteenth Annual Carlos Vega Memorial Birthday Concert | Modern Drummer Magazine". Modern Drummer Magazine. November 1, 2016. Retrieved September 4, 2018.

External links[edit]