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Shawn Pelton

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Shawn Pelton
Born (1963-06-01) June 1, 1963 (age 61)
Kansas City, Missouri, US
Instrument(s)Drums, percussion

Shawn Pelton is an American drummer and percussionist. He has recorded with a wide range of artists and has been a first call[a] player since moving to New York in the late 1980s.[2]

Pelton has recorded with artists such as Sheryl Crow,[3] Shawn Colvin, Natalie Merchant, Ingrid Michaelson, Billy Joel, Van Morrison, Elton John, Rod Stewart, Johnny Cash, Rosanne Cash, Pink, Shakira, Kelly Clarkson, Five For Fighting, Michelle Branch, Regina Spektor, Tears for Fears, Gianluca Grignani, Citizen Cope, Matisyahu, Jonatha Brooke, David Byrne, Edie Brickell, Marc Cohn, Richie Havens, Joan Osborne, Hall and Oates, Odetta, Pavarotti, Phillip Phillips, George Michael, Carly Simon, Dixie Chicks, Chris Botti and Buddy Guy, and has played on several Grammy winning albums for artists including Ray Charles, The Brecker Brothers, Shawn Colvin, Les Paul and the Hank Williams tribute album with Bob Dylan.[4]

Pelton is also the longtime drummer in the house band for the NBC TV network's sketch comedy and music program Saturday Night Live.[5]

Shawn was the touring drummer on Jon Bon Jovi's Destination Anywhere tour in 1997-1998.[6]

Early life[edit]

Pelton was born in Kansas City, Missouri.

"I grew up always banging on things," Pelton said describing his childhood. His first real musical instrument was a cello in 5th grade. But he "bailed as soon as possible to the drums," Pelton said. "I was running around doing gigs at 14, which was a great situation, to actually be in a band that young. The sooner you start making music with other people the better."[7]


Pelton studied at Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music in Bloomington, Indiana, earning a bachelor's degree and a Performer's Certificate in 1985.[4] While there, Pelton studied with Kenny Aronoff, who at the time was the drummer for John Mellencamp.[4] During his summer breaks, Pelton sought out experts elsewhere, including Alan Dawson,[7] who is best known as an early teacher of jazz drummer Tony Williams.

During his time as a student, Pelton taught for a brief period, and also conducted private drum lessons. One of his students was Pete Wilhoit, who would later become a member of Fiction Plane, the opening act for The Police on their 2007 reunion global tour.[8]


He joined the Saturday Night Live band in 1992,[4] saying "It’s a pretty mellow gig...It’s really only 20 days out of the year."[9]

Since 2007, Pelton has been regularly appearing as the drummer on Daryl Hall's internet concert series Live from Daryl's House.

Pelton also served periodically as the substitute drummer in the CBS Orchestra on Late Show with David Letterman during regular drummer Anton Fig's absences.

Pelton is also a founding member of the NYC-based band The Cringe.

Selected discography[edit]

Album Title Artist Year Released
Out Of The Loop Brecker Brothers 1994
Picture Perfect Morning Edie Brickell 1994
Plumb Jonatha Brooke 1995
A Few Small Repairs Shawn Colvin 1996
Live! The Real Deal Buddy Guy 1996
Midnight Without You Chris Botti 1997
Little Ship Loudon Wainwright III 1997
Marigold Sky Hall & Oates 1997
Fool's Parade Peter Wolf 1998
Burning The Daze Marc Cohn 1998
Tracks Bruce Springsteen 1998
Blues Everywhere I Go Odetta 1999
Timeless: Hank Williams Tribute with Bob Dylan 2001
Look into the Eyeball David Byrne 2001
Whole New You Shawn Colvin 2001
How Sweet It Is Joan Osborne 2002
What If It All Means Something Chantal Kreviazuk 2002
Sleepless Peter Wolf 2002
C'mon, C'mon Sheryl Crow 2002
Home Dixie Chicks 2002
How Sweet It Is Joan Osborne 2002
Hotel Paper Michelle Branch 2003
C'mon America (Live DVD) Sheryl Crow 2003
Smile Lyle Lovett 2003
Breakaway Kelly Clarkson 2004
Genius Loves Company Ray Charles 2004
Just Like There's Nothin' to It Steve Forbert 2004
The Battle for Everything Five for Fighting 2004
The Clarence Greenwood Recordings Citizen Cope 2004
Earth Tones Charlie Hunter 2005
The Legend (Columbia) Johnny Cash 2005
All I Really Want For Christmas Steven Curtis Chapman 2005
These Four Walls Shawn Colvin 2006
Black Cadillac Rosanne Cash 2006
Begin to Hope Regina Spektor 2006
Can't Quit the Blues Buddy Guy 2006
I'm Not Dead P!nk 2006
Innovation Charlie Hunter 2006
Oral Fixation, Vols. 1-2 Shakira 2006
Secret World Tears for Fears 2006
Separate Ways Teddy Thompson 2006
Stand Still, Look Pretty The Wreckers 2006
Home For Christmas Hall & Oates 2006
Sleepless (Peter Wolf album) Peter Wolf 2007
My December Kelly Clarkson 2007
Abbey Sings Abbey Abbey Lincoln 2007
Forever Ray Charles Ray Charles 2007
Hits and Rarities Sheryl Crow 2007
Supermoon Zap Mama 2007
The Best of Van Morrison, Vol. 3 Van Morrison 2007
Les Paul and Friends: Tribute to a Legend Les Paul 2008
Bleu Pétrole Alain Bashung 2008
Nobody Left to Crown Richie Havens 2008
The List Rosanne Cash 2009
Light Matisyahu 2009
Greatest Hits... So Far!!! P!nk 2010
The Essential Rosanne Cash Rosanne Cash 2011
The Complete EP Collection James McCartney 2011
Human Again Ingrid Michaelson 2012
The World from the Side of the Moon Phillip Phillips 2012
Living in Color Alexz Johnson 2013
A cure for loneliness Peter Wolf 2016
Cross Currents Mark Egan 2024



  1. ^ A first call musician is session musician whom a producer values and trusts to call first for needed work[1]


  1. ^ Owsinski, Bobby; Ill, Paul (November 21, 2011). "Who Hires Session Musicians?".
  2. ^ Earthworks Audio Artist's page, Retrieved on 2012-09-18.
  3. ^ Sheryl Crow official website Archived 2009-08-14 at the Wayback Machine, Retrieved on 2009-04-23.
  4. ^ a b c d "Shawn Pelton Artist Page". Zildjian. Retrieved 21 February 2013.
  5. ^ Mackey, Dave. SNL band fansite, Retrieved on 2009-04-23
  6. ^ Jon Bon Jovi - It's Just Me (London 1997), archived from the original on 2021-12-15, retrieved 2019-10-03
  7. ^ a b "New York State of Mind: Shawn Pelton", DW Edge Magazine. Archived 2009-02-08 at the Wayback Machine 2004. Retrieved on 2009-04-23.
  8. ^ Graham, Andy (15 July 2007). "Stranger than Fiction". Herald Times. Retrieved 21 February 2013.
  9. ^ Hichak, Paul G. of rhythmtech.com, "Live from New York, It's Shawn Pelton", Drummerworld, Retrieved on 2009-04-23.

External links[edit]