Jonathan Moffett, also known as Sugarfoot, is a drumming legend and is well known as being the drummer for Michael Jackson for over 30 years. He has also performed with Madonna, Sir Elton John, George Michael, Stevie Wonder, and many other iconic artists.
Moffett was born and raised in New Orleans and began his drumming career when his father
asked him and his brothers if they wanted to start playing music. Jonathan was assigned to play
the drums after everyone wanted to play guitar and his father said “you can’t all play guitar.”
This path however did not turn out bad for Jonathan at all, becoming one of the most iconic
drummers in history.
He began touring with The Jacksons after moving to LA from New Orleans in the late 1970s. In
this episode Jonathan shares his amazing story of how he got the gig and came to play with
Michael Jackson for over 30 years. Jonathan was the last drummer to audition with the
Jacksons, impressing the group by playing “Shake Your Body” on the drums all by himself, a
song with a three part overdub, which means it has three drum parts layered on top of one
another with three separate passes of recorded individual drums parts.
Jonathan also plays a number of instruments and is both a songwriter and producer. He has
influenced drummers all over the world with his groundbreaking drum techniques and style. He
is notorious for his kung-fu inspired signature moves which he came up with during a marathon
practice session late one evening – the “one-handed cymbal catch” and his backlash-whiplash
cymbal crashes (single and/or double hand) where he places two cymbals behind him and hits
them without looking.
The Sugarfoot sound is unique, fusing the feel of funk and R&B with the power of rock. He is
also known for his impressive drum setups often using multiple kick drums and toms, and an
array of cymbals rigged on a complex web of stands and hardware. Some of Moffett’s drumming
influences include Zigaboo, Buddy Rich, Louis Bellson, Tony Williams, Billy Cobham, James
Brown, Stevie Wonder, among many others.