Chris Adams grew up in the small town of Endicott, NY. By the age of
twelve, she was in a drum and bugle corps, learning the basic rudiments of
the instrument. "I heard about this new 'drum corps' starting up in Endicott,
and was excited about it," recalls Chris. "So a few friends and I joined...
From the first rehearsal, I fell in love with drumming! I practiced all the
Like any child of the sixties, Chris was listening to groups such as The
Beatles, Dave Clark Five, Herman's Hermits, The Monkees, Little Anthony, The
Four Seasons, and Jay & The Americans. As she got older, she graduated to
learning songs from bands such as Grand Funk Railroad, Sly & The Family
Stone, Blood Sweat & Tears, Chicago, and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Mitch
Mitchell, from the Jimi Hendrix Experience, and Buddy Miles became major
After migrating to New York City in the early '70s, Chris became greatly
inspired by the drumming of Steve Gadd, as well as jazz greats such as Art
Blakey, Jack DeJohnette and Tony Williams. Meanwhile, she worked steadily as
a freelance drummer, doing a wide variety of gigs including rock, jazz, big
band, Broadway shows, club dates and Irish gigs.
After reading about Gary Chester in a 1983 interview, she immediately
called him and began lessons. Soon she was helping him compile his drum
"systems" for the first "New Breed" book. "At one of my lessons, I happened
to show him a chart I was writing," she remembers. "He was impressed with my
hand written manuscript, and asked if I'd help him write book one. That's
actually where our co-writing partnership was born."
When the time came for the sequel, Gary again enlisted Chris' help. "He
called me very excited, and said he wanted to put all his bonuses and most
challenging systems in another book," she says. "We had planned to get
together the week after his vacation to map out and write an outline. On
Sunday of that week, I got that fateful call from Katrina very early in the
morning telling me that Gary had a heart attack and... was gone. That's one
of my most difficult memories."
Initially Chris wasn't sure whether to continue with the book. "It took
me many months, and many signs, which I believe were right from Gary, before
taking pen to paper," she relates. "I was lost for a good while, and humbled
by the fact that I couldn't light a candle to the likes of our great Gary,
but during our last conversation talking about the book, he said this to
me... 'Chrissy, it's important for me to know that when I die, my work will
go on and on.' And I replied by saying 'I know, Gar.' Well, after grieving
for a few months, I realized that those statements were a commitment to one
another, and I understood what I had to do. Fortunately, he had told me
EXACTLY what bonuses and unexplored areas he wanted in Book II, so I had a
great starting place. I trusted, and went from there. It took me two years to
complete. The hardest part was not being able to call him and say... 'so,
what do you think Gar? Is that what you had in mind?' My heart still hurts when I let myself think of that emptiness. But I'm grateful to have been a
small part of helping him get his ideas out there, and honored to have known,
studied with, worked with, and loved such an incredible human being."
Today Chris continues to perform and teach. Her projects include groups
such as "Drum Fun," which is a lively percussion group performing a variety
of percussion literature; "Talking Drums/Dancing Drums," which is a
percussion quartet exploring unique percussive instruments and rhythms from
around the world; and "The World Rhythm Trio."
Chris gives private lessons at the Drummers Intensive Studios in
Binghamton, NY, where she also directs elementary and high school level
percussion ensembles. She gives group classes at The Boys & Girls Club
Binghamton, and does private instruction worldwide through
Other credits include Teaching Artist for The Southern Tier Institute
Arts in Education, grades K - 12; Wolf Trap Institute for Early
through the Arts, pre-school ages 3 - 5 years; and The Binghamton
Philharmonic's Beethoven's Buddies Residency Program, grades Pre-K - 2.
For information regarding correspondence lessons from Chris Adams, former Gary Chester student and co-author of The New Breed books:
A very special thank you to Benny Selzer from Luxx for writing this great bio!!