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PAS Playlist: Richie Hayward by Scotti Iman

Dec 5, 2022, 08:00 AM by Rhythm Scene Staff

Iman Playlist

Richie Hayward is one of my top three drummers of all time and space. When I first saw him live with Little Feat in 2003, my jaw dropped, and my desire to become the world’s fastest pop punk drummer quickly receded into the ether. Richie commanded the grooves in Little Feat with an ease that seemed effortless but filled the room with joyous sound. He tended to phrase his grooves with the vocal line but never in a way that overpowered the music, just enough emphasis to add energy when needed. He was a true master drummer, and I’m happy that we have such a large catalog of his work to enjoy. Here are a few of those fantastic Feat grooves with a few others peppered in.

“Dixie Chicken”
Probably one of the more popular Little Feat tunes and rightfully so. Richie’s playing follows the vocals and adds slight, funky accents when necessary.

“Fat Man in the Bathtub”
This track always reminds me how locked in Richie and percussionist Sam Clayton were. The congas and kit were never fighting for attention; they really operated as a percussion section.

“Feats Don’t Fail Me Now”
Listen to this track and tell me that isn’t some of the funkiest hi-hat work you’ve ever heard.

“The Fan”
This is a great example of Richie letting the melody dictate how his groove should be phrased. The song being in 7/8 definitely really made Richie flow and open up a bit more when it came to timekeeping. Plus, those toms just sound fantastic.

“Wheels of Fortune”
Richie and John Hartman do a killer job double drumming on this track. Little Feat always had more of a New Orleans jazz influence, while the Doobie Brothers were a little more straight-ahead on the jazz side of things. I love how the Richie and John combo still keeps a touch of the laid-back feel while the song barrels forward.

“Mercenary Territory”
The solo section on this tune is the big thing to me. Richie doesn’t play a million things as the guitar solo grows. He just dials up the intensity a bit, knowing that the horns are going to have their time to shine.

“Mama Mercy”
Two things on this track that make it absolutely awesome: one, a very Doobie Brothers feel on the verses with the floor tom on beat 4, and two, the fills at the end are so NOLA groovy. It’s that classic Hayward way of driving the band while laying the beatback just enough that the grease shows.

“Strawberry Flats”
I love Richie’s bass drum tone on this track. The whole kit sounds clean, but there’s something about it that just hits me every time. The sixteenth-note hi-hats out of the blue 50 seconds in are a great stylistic choice that Richie just throws in easily.

“Hamburger Midnight”
Richie’s groove has a real “Footsteps in the Dark” vibe that is still as funky today as it was back then. Give Thundercat’s “Them Changes” a listen and see what I’m talking about. Plus, this is the only song I know of where a drum fill breaks up a fight.

“Cajun Rage”
When in my head I picture Richie playing, this groove is always the first to pop up. It’s a real stompin’, snare-crushin’ second line that’s a great reminder of the force that Richie was behind the kit. I can picture him opening his mouth on every backbeat and being fully in the zone with the tune.

“Long Time Till I Get Over You”
This track is a perfect example of Richie throwing in accents to add emphasis to the vocals and the melody line on the guitar solo. Take note that he just hits crashes and doesn’t play a million notes in between each one. Just simple touches put in the correct spots without unnecessary filler.

Scotti ImanScotti Iman is an independent drummer and educator based in St. Louis, Missouri. When not teaching privately he plays with artists Cree Rider, SideCar, and The STL Rhythm Collaborative. More information can be found at Instagram (@scottiimandrums) or you can reach him at

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