Chadwick Gaylord "Chad" Smith (born October 25, 1961) is an American musician, and current drummer of Red Hot Chili Peppers, with whom he joined in 1988 and is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Smith is also the drummer of the hard rock supergroup Chickenfoot and currently the all-instrumental outfit Chad Smith's Bombastic Meatbats. As one of the most highly sought-after drummers, Smith has recorded with Deep Purple vocalist Glenn Hughes, Kid Rock, Jake Bugg, The Dixie Chicks, Jennifer Nettles, Johnny Cash, John Fogerty and The Avett Brothers, to name a few.
Widely regarded as one of rock music's best drummers, Spin Magazine placed Smith at #10 on their list of the 100 Greatest Drummers of Alternative Music in May 2013. Readers of UK-based Rhythm magazine ranked Smith and Red Hot Chili Pepper bassist Flea the fourth-greatest rhythm section of all time in their June 2013 issue.
Smith was born on October 25, 1961, in Saint Paul, Minnesota and was the third child of Curtis and Joan Smith. Smith spent most of his childhood in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan where he graduated high school from Lahser High School in 1980. He started to play drums at 7 and grew up listening mainly to bands such as The Rolling Stones, Humble Pie, Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, The Who, The Jimi Hendrix Experience and Kiss.
Smith cites Ian Paice, Mitch Mitchell, Bill Ward, John Bonham, Stewart Copeland and Neil Peart as early influences on his drumming. He spent his early years in various rock bands including Pharroh and Michigan based band Toby Redd. Pharroh's percussionist Larry Fratangelo, who also worked with Parliament-Funkadelic, introduced Smith to R&B and funk music and taught him how to play funk. Smith said: "I think up until then, I was a drummer. Once I studied with Larry, I turned into a musician". Funk drummers like David Garibaldi, Jabo Starks, Clyde Stubblefield and Greg Errico caught his attention and influenced his style a lot.
Later, Smith decided to head out to California to pursue his musical aspirations.
In 1988, the Red Hot Chili Peppers were looking for a replacement for their drummer, D.H. Peligro who was recently fired. Already into the process of working on their fourth studio album and hiring new guitarist, John Frusciante, the band held open auditions for a new drummer. Smith was one of the last drummers to audition for the band and the band felt that on looks alone, Smith would be the wrong fit. Nonetheless, the band was blown away by his audition. Singer Anthony Kiedis admired Smith and found his persistence impressive. Smith joined the Chili Peppers in December 1988 and within a few months was recording his first album with the band, Mother's Milk. Smith reflected on joining the band in a 2012 interview by saying "I remember thinking, 'Oh, cool, they have a record deal. Great! I'd love to be in a band that has a record deal. We started playing, and right away we just hit it off musically. I was like, 'Man, this is a blast! These guys are great!' ... We were just doing what we do. We just jammed, which is what we still do today. It's very similar."
After a successful world-wide tour in support of Mother's Milk the band released their major label debut, 1991's Blood Sugar Sex Magik which was hugely successful upon its release peaking at number three on the Billboard charts, and went on to sell thirteen million copies worldwide. It went on to be nominated and win several awards and is highly regarded as one of the best albums of all-time. Shortly into the tour for the album, Frusciante quit the band in 1992 and was replaced by Arik Marshall for the remainder of the tour. Marshall was fired following the tour and briefly replaced by Jesse Tobias who was let go in favor of Dave Navarro in 1994. With Navarro intact, the band would release 1995's One Hot Minute. Navarro too would end up being fired in 1998 following the tour to support the album and replaced with a returning John Frusciante. With Frusciante back, the band released 1999's Californication, their biggest selling album to date. That album was followed by 2002's By the Way and 2006's Stadium Arcadium, the band's first number one album in the United States.
In 2007, Smith, along with fellow Glenn Hughes alumni, guitarist Jeff Kollman and keyboardist Ed Roth, formed an all-instrumental band inspired by their shared love of 1970s funk and fusion. Still unnamed at the time, the group, rounded out by bassist Kevin Chown, debuted at the 2008 NAMM show in Anaheim, California. The band has released two studio albums and a double live disc as Chad Smith's Bombastic Meatbats since its inception.
Following a lengthy world tour in support of Stadium Arcadium, the Chili Peppers decided to take a break in 2008. During this break, Smith joined the hard rock supergroup Chickenfoot, whose other members are Sammy Hagar, Joe Satriani and Michael Anthony. The group has released two studio albums and a live album to date. Smith was also a judge for the 7th annual Independent Music Awards to support independent artists' careers that same year. The Chili Peppers re-grouped in 2009 after a year-long hiatus to record new music however Frusciante again had quit and was now replaced with Josh Klinghoffer.
Smith released 2010's Rhythm Train, a critically acclaimed children's album which he recorded with Dick Van Dyke and Leslie Bixler. In April 2010, MTV named Rhythm Train one of the best children's records of all time.
The Chili Peppers released I'm with You, their tenth studio album, Smith's seventh with the band in 2011. Due to touring commitments with the Chili Peppers, Smith was unable to tour with Chickenfoot and was replaced by Kenny Aronoff. Smith released The Chad Smith Drum App in March 2012, which is free mobile application for iPhone, iPad and Android devices and features his "Drummer GPS". The GPS section of the app spotlights drummers Smith has been influenced by and those he regards as some of the best drummers around today. The Chad Smith Drum App has received great praise from both fans and from fellow drummers..
In April 2012, the Chili Peppers were inducted by Chris Rock into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. A month later, Smith rejoined Chickenfoot for a four-song encore at the Orpheum in Boston, Massachusetts. Smith and the Chili Peppers wrapped up I'm With You World Tour in April 2013.
In May 2013, Smith launched In Conversation with Chad Smith, his own podcast through MusicRadar where he interviews other musical artists.
Smith joined Sammy Hagar in the studio to work on music for his twelfth studio album. They were joined by guitarist Neal Schon and bassist Michael Anthony and according to Hagar it was the rebirth of his 1980s band HSAS, which featured Schon and two other members.
The Chili Peppers launched another lengthy tour in May 2013 and it is expected to keep them on the road until June 2014. During this time, the band appeared alongside Bruno Mars at the halftime for the Super Bowl in February 2014. Smith confirmed that the Chili Peppers would begin work on their eleventh studio album that same month.
In 2013, Smith joined jazz musician Jon Batiste and bassist/producer Bill Laswell to create a unique musical group to score a film that had yet to be written and will never be made. The album, The Process, will be released on November 4, 2014.
Chad Smith vs. Will Ferrell:
Smith is also known for his strong resemblance to actor and comedian Will Ferrell, which he has capitalized on by wearing shirts reading "I Am Not Will Ferrell" in live performances. Smith said that the two first met during the premiere of the film, The Ladies Man. "I'm looking at Will and thinking, People really think I look like him? I don't fucking look like that. He looks me up and down and says, 'You're very handsome,' and walks away. Totally deadpan. I was like, 'You're funny. You're funny.'" In February 2014, through Funny or Die, Smith called out Ferrell during his reddit fan interview blasting his drumming skills by saying "I've seen your skills. You don't got 'em. Mr. Ferrell is a delusional imposter. It seems to me that he has gone off his meds and he needs to seek professional help because I am obviously more talented and handsome than he is. You know, his cowbell work is well-documented, but his drumset skills are nominal based on Step Brothers the film. Other than wiping his testicles on the drums, which of course I give high marks to." Ferrell actually responded during Smith's interview saying "Hi, Chad. Will Ferrell here. I saw your video and I graciously accept your invitation to a drum battle. If we can raise $300,000 for Cancer for College I will face off with you in the greatest drum vs. cowbell showdown the world has ever seen. We can do it on stage at a Red Hot Chili Peppers concert or in front of a mutually convenient public library. Your call. Also, would you rather fight a hundred duck sized ducks or one horse sized horse?" Smith replied to Ferrell saying "Tell Will Ferrell anytime, anyplace, I'll take him down. I don't want to embarrass him, but I'd say don't bring your family. Especially children. I don't want them to see this." Smith followed it up by tweeting a picture of himself giving blood with the caption, "Gettin juiced for the drum battle." Ferrell set up a website where you can donate to Cancer for College to make the drum battle a reality.
Smith released a promotional image to his Facebook page announcing a 2014 drum-off with Ferrell., which took place on May 22, 2014 on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Smith told Rolling Stone "We're going to have a drum-off to see who the real Chad Smith is. I'm all for it. But unless Will's been practicing or is secretly a crazy, wild drummer, I think it'll be evident right off the bat who the real Chad Smith is. I'm ready to take him down." Asked to rate Ferrell's skills Smith replied ""Terrible. I hope he's practicing." to which Ferrell responded "I have not been practicing. There's no amount of practice that would help me become a good drummer." "Ever since the Super Bowl, this delusional imposter claiming to be me has forced me to defend my identity" Smith said. "What's up with that? I don't understand why he, all of a sudden, decided he wants to be me. It's not enough to be one of the biggest movie stars in the world? It is going to be complete public humiliation on the part of Will Ferrell." Smith said "If I win, he has to wash my car for a month and give me pedicures. If I lose, I have to be his stand-in for his next film." To date, the pending bout has raised more than $300,000 in donations for the charity Cancer for College. A special limited edition t-shirt is being sold to promote the event with 100% of the proceeds split between Ferrell's Cancer for College charity and Smith's Little Kids Rock charity.
The duo appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon for an interview segment where both were dressed alike. Smith pretended to be Ferrell, Ferrell pretended to be Smith. Following the interview, they competed in their drum battle with Smith clearly the better drummer however Ferrell was given the win and a giant golden cowbell award. Both were then joined by the rest of the Chili Peppers for a performance of "Don't Fear the Reaper" by Blue Oyster Cult with Ferrell playing cowbell--a joke from his classic "More Cowbell" Saturday Night Live skit, in which "Tonight show" host Jimmy Fallon also played a role, coincidentally, as the Blue Oyster Cult drummer, Bobby Rondinelli. The Chili Peppers then joined The Roots for a performance of Parliament Funkadelic's "Standing on the Verge of Getting It On" and the Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Give It Away".
On June 10, 2014, Smith and Ferrell challenged Metallica drummer, Lars Ulrich to a drum-off citing that he was an imposter and resembled both of them as well. "Lars gets pissed because he gets mistaken for both me and Chad Smith. He can settle that score now, too." Smith added, "There it is. The gauntlet is down." Two days later, Ulrich accepted the challenge saying "It was a little lonely on the sidelines during the first drum-off, given the somewhat forced nature of the lookalike element between Chad Smith and Will Ferrell, when I'm TRULY the one carrying that dead-ringer gene around!"
Smith has two older siblings, Bradley and sister Pamela. Smith lives in Malibu, California with his second wife, architect Nancy Mack whom he married in 2004 and with whom he has three children, Cole (born 2005), Beckett (born 2012) and a third child born in 2013. From 1996-1997, Smith was married to Maria St John with whom Smith had a daughter, Manon (born 1997). He also has two other children, Justin (born 1998) and Ava (born 2000) through other relationships and spends time also living in New York to help raise his other children. When discussing his relationships and marriages Smith said "I'm the dumper. I fall in love easily, but I get restless. I'll figure it out one day. Can we talk about something else?"
Smith is an active supporter of a number of non-profit organizations including Surfer's Healing, SeriousFun Network, MusiCares, Silverlake Conservatory of Music, Guitar Mash NY and Camp Korey.
In April 2013, Smith was asked by NAMM, the National Association of Music Merchants, to represent the music community by going to Washington, D.C. as a lobbyist in support of music education in US public schools. While in DC, Smith had the opportunity to meet with congressional leaders and share his experience as a student who learned his craft entirely within the public school system. Smith has since been invited back to lobby in April 2014 in support of public school music education.
In 2014, Smith joined Bystander Revolution a group that speaks out against bullying in schools and tries to find solutions. Smith released a few videos discussing his own childhood being bullied along with his son's recent experiences with bullies.
On May 21, 2014, Smith appeared along with other celebrities in Washington, D.C. at a White House talent show held by Michelle Obama which was organized to raise awareness for Turnaround Arts, a program enacted under the guidance of the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities (PCAH) to increase performance and achievement at some of the lowest-ranked schools in the country through arts education. Students from eight schools around the country participated in the show which featured musical theatre, spoken word and interpretative dance. President Barack Obama made a surprise appearance at the event. Smith adopted a school in Monterey, California also lobbied Speaker of the House John Boehner for increased funding for arts education and that it is a personal issue for him. Smith said "I didn't give a shit about science, math or English when I was in school and music was the only reason I wanted to go. It got me interested in other subjects and I would've never graduated without it. If kids can connect with some sort of art in some way, it will enrich their lives in ways they probably can't fully comprehend at the time." Earlier in the week, Smith was joined by former New York Yankee and musician, Bernie Williams at Savoy Elementary School in Washington, D.C. where together they taught a music class. "These are schools where the kids look down at their feet and have no hope and don't feel like they mean anything. They have no self-worth. They need something. This is not a photo-op and just throwing some money. You really roll your sleeves up and immerse yourself in the school." Smith said.
Chad's Pearl Acrylic kit:
14x14 floor tom,
16x16 floor tom,
24x16 kick drum,
14×5 Pearl Ultracast Snare or a 14x6 Pearl Sensitone Elite,
14x6 acrylic Free Floating snare (auxiliary snare),
6x12 acrylic rocket tom,
6x13 acrylic rocket tom,
6x14 acrylic rocket tom,
6x16 acrylic rocket tom,
Adams Professional tunable tympani,
Note: Smith rarely uses his signature snare and he is working with Pearl on a new one.
14" AAX-Celerator Hats,
21" AA Rock Ride,
20" AA Rock Crash,
19" AA Rock Crash,
21" AA Holy China,
10-inch AAX Splash,
Vater Percussion sticks:
Chad Smith Funk Blaster,
C1030 straight stand × 5,
P2000C bass drum pedal,
H2000 hi-hat stand,
S2000 snare stand,
T2000 double tom stand,
B1000 boom stand,
Clear Powerstroke 4 (bass drum batter): 24-inch,
Clear Emperor (Bass Drum Resonant): 24",
Clear Controlled Sound(Tom Batters): 12", 14", 16",
Clear Ambassador (Tom Resonants): 12", 14", 16",
Coated Controlled Sound X (Snare Batter): 14",
Ambassador Hazy (Snare Side): 14",
Coated Ambassador (Auxiliary Snare Batter): 14",
Controlled sound (rocket toms),
Gon Bops Percussion:
Red Rock Cowbell,
Red Jam Block
Text from this biography licensed under creative commons license