Steve Smith (American musician)

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Steve Smith
Smith in 2013
Smith in 2013
Background information
Birth nameSteven Bruce Smith
Born (1954-08-21) August 21, 1954 (age 69)
Whitman, Massachusetts, U.S.
Years active1971–present
Member of
Formerly of

Steven Bruce Smith (born August 21, 1954) is an American drummer best known as a member of the rock band Journey across three stints: 1978 to 1985, 1995 to 1998 and 2015 to 2020.[9] Modern Drummer magazine readers have voted him the No. 1 All-Around Drummer five years in a row. In 2001, the publication named Smith one of the Top 25 Drummers of All Time, and in 2002 he was voted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Journey on April 7, 2017.[10]

Early life[edit]

Smith received his first drum kit at age two and in 1963 he began taking formal lessons with local Boston area drum teacher Bill Flanagan, who played in big bands in the swing era. Smith got his first "real" drum set when he was 12 years old. On many nights, Steve could be heard practicing in a small shed in the back yard of his Harvard Street home. Smith performed in the usual school band program and garage bands while in his teens, including Clyde, a South Shore sensation, but also began to broaden his performing experience by playing in a professional concert band and the big band at local Bridgewater State College.


Smith in 2009

He graduated from high school in 1972, and at 19 he joined the Lin Biviano Big Band, playing with them for two years. After high school, Smith attended the Berklee College of Music and studied with Alan Dawson. In the early 1990s, he studied with Freddie Gruber. He recorded and toured with jazz violinist Jean-Luc Ponty in 1977–78. He was the drummer on the Focus album Focus con Proby (1978) and played with Ronnie Montrose. From 1978 to 1985, he was the drummer for the rock band Journey. He left the band in 1985 but returned in 1995 for the band's comeback album Trial by Fire. In the interim, he played with Journey offshoot The Storm. In 2015, he rejoined Journey again,[11] but was terminated from the group (along with bassist Ross Valory) in March, 2020.[12]

Since 1977, Smith has led his own jazz group, Vital Information. Drummer Neil Peart of Rush invited him in 1994 to perform on Burning for Buddy: A Tribute to the Music of Buddy Rich, a tribute album to Buddy Rich, who inspired both drummers. Smith recorded the song "Nutville" and was invited for the sequel tribute album, Burning for Buddy: A Tribute to the Music of Buddy Rich, Vol. 2, for which he recorded "Moment's Notice". He recorded two albums with Buddy's Buddies, a quintet composed of musicians who played with Rich. In 2007, Smith and Buddy's Buddies were renamed Steve Smith's Jazz Legacy. The band pays tribute to many great jazz drummers in addition to Buddy Rich. In 1989, Smith headlined the Buddy Rich Memorial Scholarship Concert held in New York City, performing a duet with drummer Marvin "Smitty" Smith. Smith released two albums, Very Live at Ronnie Scott's Set One & Set Two, for Tone Center, recorded at Ronnie Scott's club in London.

In 2001 Modern Drummer magazine named Smith one of the Top 25 Drummers of All Time. During the following year, he was voted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame. In 2003, his DVD Steve Smith Drumset Technique – History of the U.S. Beat was voted the No. 1 Educational DVD of the year.[13]

He has worked as a session musician for Mariah Carey, Andrea Bocelli, Elisa, Vasco Rossi, Zucchero, Savage Garden, Bryan Adams, Zakir Hussain and Sandip Burman. Additionally, he has played with jazz musicians such as Steps Ahead, Wadada Leo Smith, Tom Coster, Ahmad Jamal, Dave Liebman, Larry Coryell, Victor Wooten, Mike Stern, Randy Brecker, Scott Henderson, Frank Gambale, Stuart Hamm, Dweezil Zappa, Anthony Jackson, Aydın Esen, Torsten de Winkel, George Brooks, Michael Zilber, Steve Marcus, Andy Fusco, Kai Eckhardt, Lee Musiker, Howard Levy, Oteil Burbridge, Jerry Goodman, Tony MacAlpine, Hiromi Uehara and Bill Evans.


Smith endorses Sonor drums, Remo drumheads, Zildjian cymbals, Vic Firth drumsticks and Drum Workshop hardware and bass drum pedals.[14]


As leader[edit]

  • 1999 Steve Smith & Buddy's Buddies (Tone Center)
  • 2003 Reimagined, Vol. 1: Jazz Standards (Bluejay)
  • 2003 Very Live at Ronnie Scott's London, Set 1 (Tone Center)
  • 2003 Very Live at Ronnie Scott's London, Set 2 (Tone Center)
  • 2005 Flashpoint (Tone Center)

As member/co-leader[edit]

With Journey

With Vital Information

  • 1983 Vital Information
  • 1984 Orion
  • 1987 Global Beat
  • 1988 Fiafiaga
  • 1991 Vitalive!
  • 1992 Easier Done Than Said
  • 1996 Ray of Hope
  • 1998 Where We Come From
  • 2000 Live Around the World
  • 2001 Live from Mars
  • 2002 Show 'Em Where You Live
  • 2004 Come on In
  • 2007 Vitalization
  • 2012 Live! One Great Night (BFM Jazz)
  • 2015 Viewpoint (BFM Jazz)
  • 2017 Heart of the City (BFM Jazz)[15]
  • 2023 Time Flies (Drum Legacy)

With Steps Ahead

  • 1986 Live in Tokyo 1986
  • 1989 N.Y.C.
  • 1992 Yin-Yang
  • 2016 Steppin' Out

With Vital Tech Tones - with Scott Henderson and Victor Wooten [16]

With Steve Smith's Jazz Legacy

  • 2008 Live on Tour, Vol. 1
  • 2009 Live on Tour, Vol. 2

With others

As sideman[edit]

With Jeff Berlin

  • 1985 Champion
  • 1998 Crossroads

With Frank Gambale

With Henry Kaiser and Wadada Leo Smith

  • 2004 Yo Miles: Sky Garden
  • 2005 Yo Miles: Upriver
  • 2010 Yo Miles: Lightning
  • 2010 Yo Miles: Shinjuku

With Neal Schon

With others


  1. ^ "Steve Smith :: Vital Information". Retrieved 2023-02-03.
  2. ^ "Steve Smith :: Steps Ahead". Retrieved 2023-02-03.
  3. ^ Rolli, Bryan (April 2021). "Journey Reach 'Amicable Settlement' With Ross Valory, Steve Smith". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved 2023-02-03.
  4. ^ wemissmusic (2021-12-05). "26th Anniversary of Mariah Carey's 'Open Arms'". WE MISS MUSIC. Retrieved 2023-02-03.
  5. ^ DeRiso, Nick (2011-07-21). "Gimme Five: Steve Smith on songs with Journey, Jean-Luc Ponty, Vital Information". Something Else!. Retrieved 2023-02-03.
  6. ^ "RD Crusaders play at LIMS!". Retrieved 2023-02-03.
  7. ^ Johnson, Peet (2013). Hocus Pocus: The Life & Journey of Rock's Dutch Masters. Thorpe-Bowker. p. 193. ISBN 978-0-646-57754-8.
  8. ^ "STEVE SMITH". Retrieved 2023-02-03.
  9. ^ Jackson, Randy; Baker, K. C. (2004-01-12). What's Up Dawg?: How to Become a Superstar in the Music Business. Hyperion. pp. 45–. ISBN 978-1-4013-0774-5. Retrieved 23 May 2011.
  10. ^ "Inductees: Journey". Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Retrieved 20 December 2016.
  11. ^ "Journey Welcomes Back Drummer Steve Smith, Announces Tour With The Doobie Brothers". 24 November 2015. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  12. ^ "Journey Fires Longtime Bassist & Drummer After They Attempted 'Corporate Coup D'état'". Retrieved 2 May 2023.
  13. ^ "Modern Drummer's Readers Poll Archive, 1979–2017". Modern Drummer Magazine. Retrieved 8 February 2022.
  14. ^ "Steve Smith : Sonor Drums". Retrieved 2 May 2023.
  15. ^ "Steve Smith | Album Discography | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 18 October 2017.
  16. ^ "Vital Techtones | Discography | Discogs". Discogs.
  17. ^ "Steve Smith | Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 18 October 2017.


External links[edit]