Michael Jackson's drummer performing Smooth Criminal


Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/05/03/michael-jacksons-drummer-per.html


Easily and hands down my favorite Jackson tune.

(Remember the Time is second but only because of the video for it)


Henceforth Michael Jackson shall be referred to as “Sugarfoot’s singer.”


just don’t put a metronome to it.


just don’t put a metronome to it.



So many cymbals. And that ending.


You’ll hear a problem with many of Jacksons songs… well maybe less a problem and more of a feature. During bridges and breaks there is often a fraction of a second where the beat is off. Maybe it adds to the feel of the piece. But as a drummer myself it drives me batty.


Such economy of movement, and then the stick twirls throw me off.


Oh, like when someone with perfect pitch is bothered by a microtone? When?


Oh man, wait til they find out about retarando, accelarando, and the fermata; they are gunna be pissed.


Oh man, wait til they find out about retarando, accelarando, and the fermata; they are gunna be pissed.

Sure, but also, just curious bc I’m spinning (bike) to this rn, usually my legs would notice, and I don’t have time to go all analytical today. Help me out, anotherone


That’s really cool - I legit thought all Michael Jackson music was synth and drum machines.


I’ve been learning drums myself and opened myself up to the world of drumming badassery. Good drumming is so key, and it can be so subtle in a song like this. This also illustrates a huge reason why MJ is so “good”. Professional musicians are the secret sauce of popular music. At least they were. I suppose they mostly work in the country and adult contemporary genres nowadays. It seems that people that play machines are at the forefront of pop music now. Not that there’s not a lot of talented people doing that as well.


Cannot be in a room with a radio playing Alicia Keys for this reason, she is way flat on all her big notes. I don’t claim to have perfect pitch, just enough to tune a guitar freehand - but she goes too far off for me.

OTOH I’ve played with some good semi-pro rhythm sections that have taught me the value of pushing and pulling the beat - you can really give music soul by intentionally being just ahead or behind the metronome.


The first happens at about 0:43



It’s a fact that in its heyday, Motown had one of the best live “house bands” to ever exist backing all their acts, including the Jackson 5; they were known as the Funk Brothers.

There’s a good documentary about MJ and his musical process, from his J5 days to his first solo album; which features a plethora of notable musicians giving interviews about working with him that you may want to check out.


I would have bet all that groovy hi-hat syncopation was added later. And maybe on the original recording it was? But watching this, it’s clear that maybe it wasn’t, and clearly didn’t need to be. Fantastic.


Thank You! That was FF’ing awesome!
I always loved this song, the Bass playing is great as well, really simple note wise, but the rhythm is the key. It’s so solid and has this ‘snap’ syncopation but still keeps a fantastic groove.
Plus, those cymbals he had behind him to hit backhand, that absolutely killed me.
As Wayne says: “we’re not worthy!”


:43 is most definitely not an example of “a fraction of a second where the beat is off”. Sorry, but you’re off on this. He crashes the cymbals on the off beat on purpose at :43. It works really well, and in no way shifts the beat. The underlying pulse is rock solid, and I’d bet dollars to donuts that the recording he’s playing to was done to a click.


The snare sound they got there is top notch.