Leon "Ndugu" Chancler
|Birth name||Leon Chancler|
July 1, 1952|
Shreveport, Louisiana, U.S.
February 3, 2018 (aged 65)|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Genres||Jazz, jazz fusion, pop, funk|
Leon "Ndugu" Chancler (/
Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, on July 1, 1952, Leon Ndugu Chancler was the last child of seven children from the union of Rosie Lee and Henry Nathaniel Chancler. In 1960 the family relocated to Los Angeles, California. Chancler began playing drums when he was thirteen years old. He would publicly reminisce about being asked to leave a classroom for continuously tapping on the desk, only to be later heard tapping on the poles in the hallway. His love for the drums took over while attending Gompers Junior High School and it became his lifelong ambition. He graduated from Locke High School having been heavily involved in playing there with Willie Bobo and the Harold Johnson Sextet. He graduated from California State University, Dominguez Hills with a degree in music education. By then he had already performed with the Gerald Wilson Big Band, Herbie Hancock, and recorded with Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard, and Bobby Hutcherson.
He recorded as a sideman in jazz, blues, and pop music, including the iconic and instantly recognizable drums on "Billie Jean" by Michael Jackson. In 1982, he received a Grammy nomination for Best Rhythm & Blues song, for co-writing "Let It Whip" made famous by the Dazz Band.  He worked 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, Santana, Frank Sinatra, Donna Summer, The Temptations, Tina Turner, and Weather Report.
In 2006, he became an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Jazz Studies at the University of Southern California and taught at the Stanford Jazz Workshop in California for three weeks every summer. He was a member of the Percussive Arts Society.
Personal life and death
Ndugu grew up active in his church and was mentored and influenced by many strong men that helped shape his life after the absence of his father at age 13. His older brother Londell was a major support and motivation to him. When his mother was diagnosed with diabetes, Ndugu cared for her until her death in 1994.
Chancler had one child, son Rashon Chafic Chancler, with Vicki Guess. Family was important to him and he had many godchildren, nieces, and nephews.
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With Miles Davis
- Miles Davis at Newport 1955-1975: The Bootleg Series Vol. 4 (Columbia Legacy, 2015)
With Michael Jackson
With Eddie Harris
- Excursions (Atlantic, 1966–73)
With Hampton Hawes
With Joe Henderson
- The Elements (Milestone, 1974)
With Harold Land
With George Duke
- Feel (Verve, 1974)
With Azar Lawrence
- Bridge into the New Age (Prestige, 1974)
With Julian Priester
- Love, Love (ECM, 1973)
With Lalo Schifrin
- No One Home (Tabu, 1979)
With Weather Report
- Tale Spinnin' (Columbia, 1975)
- on YouTube
- Wynn, Ron. "Leon 'Ndugu' Chancler Biography". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved February 6, 2018.
- "Legendary Jazz and Popular Music Drummer Ndugu Chancler Shares 60 Years of Life and Music" (PDF). USC Thornton School of Music. September 23, 2012.
- "Leon "Ndugu" Chancler". GRAMMY.com. May 14, 2017. Retrieved February 4, 2018.
- Anderson, Daniel (February 5, 2018). "In memoriam: drummer Leon 'Ndugu' Chancler, 65". University of Southern California.
- "Ndugu Chancler Profile". Stanford Jazz Workshop. Retrieved February 6, 2018.
- Mattingly, Rick. "Ndugu Chancler (1952-2018)". Percussive Arts Society. Retrieved February 6, 2018.
- Pareles, Jon (February 7, 2018). "Leon (Ndugu) Chancler, Versatile Drummer, Is Dead at 65". The New York Times.
- Kreps, Daniel (February 4, 2018). "Ndugu Chancler, Drummer on Michael Jackson's 'Billie Jean,' Dead at 65". Rolling Stone. ISSN 0035-791X.
- Ndugu Chancler discography at Discogs
- Ndugu Chancler on IMDb
- Ndugu Chancler interview at NAMM Oral History Program
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