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Steve Jordan: History Plus 10 Iconic Drum Performances

Steve Jordan is a legendary drummer in the music industry. He’s regularly referred to as one of the best groovers in the business, but the most impressive thing about him is his versatility within different styles of music. 

He’s recorded albums for dozens of artists since he first went professional in the 70s, and he’s become one of the most respected drummers around. 

He’s played with some big names, such as Keith Richards and John Mayer, but his drumming career has included so much more to mention. 

Here’s a deep dive into Steve Jordan’s life as a drummer, along with a list of ten of his best performances with different artists.

Steve Jordan History

Early Career

Steve Jordan started playing drums when he was a child, and he very quickly entered the professional world when becoming a member of Stevie Wonder’s band as a teenager. 

He was a student at the High School of Music and Art in New York, so opportunities like that came quite easily to him. His next big gig after that was when he toured America with Joe Cocker.

Steve Jordan gained a lot of fame when he joined the live band that performed on Saturday Night Live. He played with the band throughout the 70s, and a lot of people saw him playing when the show aired every week. 

Through his connections on Saturday Night Live, he became the drummer for The Blues Brothers band, which started as a sketch between John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd. Steve Jordan tracked the drum parts for the albums that the band released in their early years. 

Jordan later joined Paul Shaffer and his World’s Most Dangerous Band. They became the house band for the Late Night with David Letterman show, displaying Steve Jordan’s drumming to an even wider audience.

Keith Richards

Steve Jordan built a relationship with Keith Richards after playing percussion on The Rolling Stone’s Dirty Workalbum. Richards loved how Steve Jordan played the drums, and he eventually hired him for several other projects.

The first one was for an Aretha Franklin cover of a Stones song, and the following one was a tribute documentary dedicated to Chuck Berry. 

Richards had a side band called Keith Richards and the X-Pensive Winos. He got Steve Jordan to play drums on all three albums that the band released between 1980 and 2015, and Jordan also had a lot of creative input with the production process. 

Keith Richards’ long-standing relationship led him to pick Steve Jordan as the replacement drummer for The Rolling Stones after Charlie Watts died. Charlie Watts also mentioned in the past that he thought Steve Jordan would be a suitable replacement.

Session Work

Apart from his long-standing work with a few major artists, Steve Jordan has also had a majorly successful session drumming career. He’s tracked drums and worked as a producer on dozens of albums from different artists. 

Here’s a list of some of the most notable names that he’s worked with:

  • Beyoncè
  • George Benson
  • Sheryl Crow
  • Bob Dylan
  • Aretha Franklin
  • Bee Gees
  • Josh Groban
  • Herbie Hancock 
  • Don Henley
  • Billy Joel
  • Alicia Keys
  • B.B. King
  • Eric Clapton
  • Ziggy Marley
  • Bruno Mars
  • Stevie Nicks
  • The Pretenders
  • Mark Ronson
  • John Scofield
  • Bruce Springsteen
  • Mike Stern
  • Toto

You can see from all those names that Steve Jordan has been an in-demand drummer for artists from various musical styles. His strength in versatility has made him one of the most hirable drummers out there.

John Mayer Trio

One of Steve Jordan’s biggest gigs of the early 2000s was when he became a member of the John Mayer Trio with John Mayer and Pino Palladino. John Mayer was incredibly popular at that time due to his pop songs getting major reach, so he formed this band as an outlet for his bluesier side. 

Thanks to Steve Jordan’s relationship with Keith Richards, the trio opened for Rolling Stones after they formed. The trio also recorded two albums between 2005 and 2009 and then only reunited for a third album in 2016. 

Steve Jordan’s drumming with John Mayer got him noticed by younger audiences who were already big fans of Mayer. A new wave of Steve Jordan fans emerged, further cementing his place as one of the most loved drummers in the world.


Steve Jordan has been a huge user of Yamaha drums and Paiste cymbals throughout most of his career. He usually performs with a selection between Yamaha’s Recording Custom, Maple Custom, Absolute Maple, and Oak Custom kits. 

His cymbals are typically a combination of Paiste’s Signature and Masters lines. His combination of drums and cymbals is usually quite minimal, playing on a 4-piece setup with two crashes and two rides. 

Another thing to mention about his setup is that he’s known to use oversized hi-hats often. They’re normally 17”.

He had a signature snare drum with Yamaha that was extremely popular in the early 2000s. Jordan usually plays with a very open and resonating snare drum sound, and his signature snare made it easy to achieve that, so a lot of drummers used it. Sadly, it got discontinued

In terms of drumsticks, Steve Jordan has a signature pair of Vic Firths that he’s been playing with for years.

10 Best Steve Jordan Drum Performances

We’ve linked ten videos below that highlight Steve Jordan’s drumming abilities. Some of them are solo drum performances, some of them are full live gigs, and a few of them are single clips of songs that he’s playing with other musicians. 

Each performance will have a short description as to why we regard these performances so highly. However, he’s performed thousands of times throughout his career, and there are so many performances for you to check out that we haven’t mentioned. They’re all incredible. 

Vic Firth Artist Spotlight

When you type Steve Jordan’s name into the YouTube search bar, this will always be one of the first videos to appear. Vic Firth released a factory tour DVD in 2012, and this 5-minute clip of Steve Jordan playing was one of the best things about it. 

It’s a masterclass in groove drumming, as Steve mostly plays straight grooves throughout this whole performance. The first groove sets the scene by making you want to bob your head instantly, and then his playing continues to get better and better as the video progresses. 

To a lot of Steve Jordan fans, this is their favorite video, and that makes it one of Steve Jordan’s best performances. 

It’s also an incredible performance due to Steve Jordan mostly playing with other musicians over the years. There aren’t too many available clips of him playing the drums alone, making this video even more special. 

Performance Spotlight: Steve Jordan

Waiting on the World to Change by John Mayer

Waiting on the World to Change is one of John Mayer’s most popular songs. It starts with a solo drum groove that was recorded by Steve Jordan, and this groove quickly became instantly recognizable to John Mayer fans. 

When the John Mayer Trio performed, John would often get Steve Jordan to play an extended groove solo before coming in with the main drum beat. The solo would always be a bit different, but it would always be as groovy as you can imagine. 

The other great part of this track is that it has Steve Jordan’s iconic snare drum sound.

John Mayer - Waiting On the World to Change (Official Video)

Motherless Children by Eric Clapton (Live in San Diego)

Steve Jordan was an integral part of Eric Clapton’s Live in San Diego album, which was recorded live in 2016. This clip just shows him killing it on the drums during Motherless Children, but he played incredibly throughout the whole show. 

The best thing about this specific song is that it was heavily drum kit focused, so Steve Jordan got a bit of the spotlight here. 

This whole concert involved world-class musicians playing with Clapton, including J.J. Cale, Robert Cray, Doyle Bramhall, Derek Trucks, and Willie Weeks. 

Eric Clapton - Motherless Children (Live In San Diego)

Silent Man by The Verbs

Steve Jordan formed a band called The Verbs with his wife, Meegan Voss. She’s a punk musician, and they formed this band to perform together with her as the frontwoman and Steve behind the drums. 

The style of the band is straightforward rock, and you can see from this performance how comfortable Steve Jordan is when playing that style. 

He brings a lot of his mannerisms over from when he plays funk music, but he plays a lot harder to create driving rhythms from the kit. 

The Verbs released two albums since they formed, but they haven’t performed much since the early 2000s. 

Steve Jordan with The Verbs "Silent Man" at Guitar Center 26th Annual Drum-Off

Jamming with Danny Kotchmar and Bernie Worrell 

This performance clip is taken from a DVD called The Groove is Here. It was an instructional drumming DVD that Steve Jordan released to explain how he approaches music and how he plays grooves for different songs. 

Drum DVDs were all the rage in the early 2000s, and this was an incredibly popular one that people got. 

The performance here is a perfect example of how groovy Steve Jordan is able to get behind the drum kit. You could listen to him playing drums like this for hours on end.

Talk is Cheap by Keith Richards

Talk is Cheap was Keith Richards’ first solo album as the main frontman of his own band, and Steve Jordan was hired by him to lay down all the drum parts. 

Many Steve Jordan fans claim that this is one of the best albums that he ever played drums on, as there are so many tracks with incredible drum kit parts. 

The song that we’ve linked here is called Make No Mistake, and it features the laidback grooving style that Steve Jordan is so well-known for. You need to listen to the entire album to understand how important it is in Steve Jordan’s career, though. 

Keith Richards - Make No Mistake - from Talk Is Cheap

James Brown on David Letterman

James Brown’s performance on Letterman was one of the most significant ones in the show’s history. James Brown practically invented funk music, and he was already a living legend by the time he appeared here. 

Instead of bringing his own band, he performed with the show’s house band, which included Steve Jordan on the drums

The whole performance is iconic, and you can see how much James Brown loved performing with these musicians. 

Steve Jordan went on to say that this performance was one that every band member had been training their whole lives for. It was a huge moment. 

James Brown on David Letterman

Briefcase Full of Blues by The Blues Brothers 

Here’s a full album that perfectly demonstrates Steve Jordan’s abilities to play hard blues grooves on the drums. The most impressive thing about his playing here is his shuffle abilities. 

Playing shuffles on the drums isn’t easy, but Steve Jordan plays them on a few tracks on the album, and they all sound driving and musical. 

While The Blues Brothers started as a bit of a gag for Saturday Night Live, it’s incredible how they turned it into enjoyable albums that people still listen to.

Blues Brothers- Briefcase Full Of Blues (full album)

The Rolling Stones Sixty Tour 2022

Sitting in for Charlie Watts was one of the biggest moments in Steve Jordan’s entire career. The Rolling Stones are one of the most famous groups of all time, and Charlie Watts was an integral member. 

Unfortunately, he couldn’t tour with the band due to an illness, and he passed away shortly after Steve Jordan covered for him on that tour. So, Steve Jordan has remained the drummer for the Stones since then. 

This performance was from the band’s Sixty tour in 2022. Steve Jordan plays all of Charlie Watts’ drum parts seamlessly, but he also does a great job of adding his own flare to them.

The Rolling Stones live at Waldbühne, Berlin - 3 August 2022 - last show - Multicam video, full show

999 by Keith Richards & X-Pensive Winos

This last performance is a modern clip of Steve Jordan performing with Keith Richards and the X-Pensive Winos. Steve Jordan and Keith Richards have been performing with both this band and The Rolling Stones over the last few years. 

This performance is a great one to watch to see how Steve Jordan also regularly provides backing vocals. He has an incredible singing voice, adding to his drumming and producing skills. 

Keith Richards & the X-Pensive Winos perform "999"

Final Thoughts on Steve Jordan

Steve Jordan is one of those drummers that you’ll find on thousands of peoples’ favorite drummer lists. He’s played drums with such a wide range of different artists, and he’s cemented himself as a top-tier professional when performing with each one. 

You can listen to him playing funk, pop, and rock, and you’ll love his drum parts in every style. His early work on Saturday Night Live and The Late Night Show with David Letterman was also incredible, and both those shows boosted his career significantly

If you want to hear more of Steve Jordan playing, we’d suggest listening to the full albums of where the snippets we mentioned come from.