Joseph “Zigaboo” Modeliste, a pugilistic style that stood as a powerful hallmark

Zigaboo Modeliste has stood out for many years as one of the greatest drummers of all time. He was a drummer who invented his different styles whenever he held the sticks.

Zigaboo Modeliste Druming
Zigaboo Modeliste Druming

May drummers admired his unique styles because he has an inspirational pull around him that made everyone’s listener feel great.

Joe McEwen, a Rolling stone reporter, once wrote about Joseph “Zigaboo” Modeliste’s drumming style as being unique. According to the reporter, the drummer performed as though he was tossing “standard technique to the wind… punching out rocking…rhythms.” It was his stiff-armed attacks that made the sounds came out with a roaring sensation.

Whether the music required slow jamming or fast thunderous rocking, Joseph always had a way of delivering beyond the expectation of anyone who listened to him. 

Zigaboo Modeliste Stage
Zigaboo Modeliste Stage

While working with the Meters in the early 70s, his pugilistic style stood as a powerful hallmark for his work. It was a unique approach to drumming that always delivered what was expected and how it was desired. This style also solidified his position as one of the most lyrical funk drummers in history.

Many other drummers have tried following this technique making it possible for him to stand as a legend.

Note that Modeliste’s technique was stamped in the second-line tradition of his native New Orleans society. And through it, generations of drummers have blueprinted a linear and nearly melodic style of syncopation.

It has always been as though the drummer continues to live and perform through these styles. He initiates crucial and important styles that have been acknowledged by many renowned drummers across the music industry.

With so much to do, Modeliste was able to build his drumming career based on innovation and his need to create better music for his followers.

Zigaboo Modeliste
Zigaboo Modeliste

Another reporter for the Rolling Stones indicated that “Modeliste had a way of drumming as thought the drum was listening to and talking back at him… that is just how good he was.” This is why his stick-works on Meter’s sons like “Cissy Strut” and “Just Kissed My Baby,” have not been heard anywhere else. They make his works to practically make a trap set sing.

Modeliste worked with Meters until the mid-seventies. He helped the band grow from strength to strength as he had a unique way of making everyone feel part of the action.

His methods of working with teams encouraged him to stay longer with the group. And when he left, he had already proven a man of talent; hence he couldn’t have missed another opportunity to leave his foot stamp in the industry. He continued bringing a homegrown approach to the larger musical realm.

In the years that followed his departure from the Meters, Modeliste was able to work alongside rock luminaries like Keith Richards and Ron Wood. This further established him as a highly established and sort after drummer across many regions. And today, he is still celebrated for his contributions.

His technique continues to ring the air, even as better music is made today.

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Written by Andrea

Andrea is a music lover and an experienced drummer with more than 15 years of drumming with different bands and music projects, such as Seditius and Hermano & the Marines.

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