Cultural Percussionist

Leon “Ndugu” Chancler Day

LeonNduguChancler (/ɪnˈdɡ ˈænslər/ in-DOO-goo CHANSS-lər; July 1, 1952 – February 3, 2018) was a world-renowned American pop, funk and jazz drummer. He further developed his skills and shared his talent as a studio musician, composer, producer and university professor.

Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, on July 1 1952, Leon Ndugu Chancler was the last child of seven children from the union of Rosie Lee and Henry Nathaniel Chancler. In 1960 the family relocated to Los Angeles, California. Chancler began playing drums when he was thirteen years old. He would publicly reminisce about being asked to leave a classroom for continuously tapping on the desk, only to be later heard tapping on the poles in the hallway. His love for the drums took over while attending Gompers Junior High School and it became his lifelong ambition. He graduated from Locke High School having been heavily involved in playing there with Willie Bobo and the Harold Johnson Sextet. He graduated from California State University, Dominguez Hills with a degree in music education. By then he had already performed with the Gerald Wilson Big Band, Herbie Hancock, and recorded with Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard, and Bobby Hutcherson.

He recorded as a sideman in jazz, blues, and pop music, including the iconic and instantly recognizable drums on “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson.


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