Jonathan Phillip Moffett is an American drummer nicknamed “Sugarfoot" for his quick, eloquent and prominent work on the bass drum.
Born in New Orleans, Louisiana on the 17th of November 1954, he grew to become one of the sought-after musicians in the industry, and is sure to continue making a positive impact on the music world for many years to come.
Not only was he an excellent drummer, his long and successful career was also contributed by his skills as a songwriter and producer.
Moffett grew up in a musical family to which his father encouraged him to play the drums.
He was the third sibling and he originally intended to play the bass guitar along with his two older brothers, who played the guitar and bass guitar. Moffett was always fully cognizant of the bass guitar parts in songs and he would imitate them on the bass drum.
He began playing the drums at the early age of 6 and his love for music only grew strong as he honed his skills and gained experience. He began performing with local bands and musicians at a young age despite never really being musically trained and would mostly learn to play the drums on his own by ear.
Moffett's professional career began in the late 1970s, where he became the drummer for The Jackson 5. He quickly became a key member to the group as his drum and percussion skills contributed a lot to the group's energetic live performances and recording sessions.
Jackson 5 flourished over the years and became one of the most popular and influential groups at their time with Moffet being in numerous albums including “Victory” and “2300 Jackson Street”.
Throughout the progression of his career, he continually broadened his professional reach by working on tours and studios with some of the most well-known and respected names in music such as Madonna, Quincy Jones, Elton John, George Michael, Stevie Wonder and Lionel Richie.
His highlight of working with Madonna first began in the mid-1980s. He played a significant role in her success as a touring and recording artist. Moffett has toured with Madonna on a number of occasions, including the "Like a Virgin" and "Blond Ambition" tours, and has played a role in the creation and success of some of Madonna's biggest hits, such as "True Blue," "Like a Prayer," and "I'm Breathless."
One of the most memorable aspects of Moffett's career was his relationship with Michael Jackson (who's song Billie Jean features in our songs for beginners list), which extended beyond just a professional partnership and into a close and meaningful friendship. In fact, the nickname “Sugarfoot" was given to Moffett by Jackson himself.
He worked with Jackson on several of his tours, including the “30th Anniversary Special" and “United We Stand: What More Can I Give” tours. Moffett was also slated to play on Jackson's "This Is It" Tour with months of rehearsals. However, the tour never took place due to Jackson's untimely and unfortunate passing. Moffett's work with Jackson helped to solidify his reputation as one of the best drummers in the business, and he has received critical acclaim for his skills and abilities.
His success in the entertainment industry led him to make numerous appearances in television shows. Most of which he showcased his skills as a musical guest or performer while others were had him on just to chat.
Among many others, such shows would include The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, The Tonights show with Jay Leno, Saturday Night Live, and the Grammy awards.
As a highly accomplished musician and drummer, it’s no surprise that he deserves and received numerous awards and nominations throughout his career.
Some of his notable awards would include the Youtube Silver Plaque Award and multiple RIAA Platinum Awards for his performances alongside other artists such as The Jacksons, Madonna, Elton John, Richard Marx, Janet Jackson and Michael Jackson.
Currently, Moffett is completely sponsored by different brands including DW, Remo Drum Heads, Roland, Gruv Gear and others. However, he is no stranger to creating his own products as he designed his own signature drumsticks in 1996 called “Jonathan Moffett Duo” and now, selling his own line of drumsticks called “Sweet Beats”.
With Moffett being known for his attention to detail and commitment to using top-quality drum gear, he was somewhat particular in his equipments to achieve his desired sound and feel. Here's a breakdown of some of the gear he's currently using or has used in the past:
Mostly he uses drum kits from the DW brand.
He used the DW Collectors Series Vintage Marine for his “Smooth Criminal” performance during the HIStory world tour and is currently using the DW Jonathan Moffet’s Gold Drum Kit.
Other times, he would be using a set from the Yamaha 9000 series recording custom kit which includes 8x8", 10x10", 10x12", 11x13", 12x14" 13x15" rack toms, 16x16" and 18x16" floor toms, and 16x24" bass drums.
Moffett is known for his love for cymbals and always had a variety of different cymbals in his drum setups.
He has used cymbals mostly from companies such as Zildjian and Istanbul Mehmet, and often opts for larger, more expressive cymbals to add color and texture to his drumming.
For instance, he used 2 Zildijian 14” crashes (one thin, and one paper thin) usually located behind him, Zildijian 17” A Thin Crash, 20” Zildijian Earth Ride, Zilidijian 14” A Quick Beat Hi Hats, and the Zilidijian 18” K Crash Ride.
Jonathan uses the Promark TX722N American Hickory Jonathan Moffett “Duo” Drumsticks. These are double ended drumsticks that allow for multiple playing requirements with one tip being larger than the other. The sticks are 0.630” in diameter and 16-1/8” long.
Jonathan Moffett started playing the drums in 1960 at the age of 6.
Jonathan Moffett has been playing the drums for 62 years now.
Throughout his career Jonathan Moffett has used DW, Zildijian, Yamaha, Promark, Shure, AKG, Earthworks, Sweetbeats, Roland, Remo, Empire, Audeze, QSC and Gruv Gear.
He is known for playing Pop, R&B, Funk, Rock, Metal, Jazz Fusion and New Jack Swing.
Counting all his Albums and Singles, Jonathan Moffett has been featured on at least 68 recordings.
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