From Modern Drummer July 1998
Ricky Lawson: Drummer to the Stars.

 

One thing never changes with Ricky Lawson-he always has more going on than there are hours in the day. As he prepares to tour with Eric Clapton, Ricky is putting the finishing touches on his first solo album, First Things First (Samsung records) which he has co-written, produced, and played on. While doing this he's producing the infamous "I Love You" theme song for the purple dinosaur's first feature film, Barney's Great Adventure. Lawson has only two weeks to coordinate the schedules for the song's vocalists-Sheena Easton, Jeffrey Osborne, and Take 6- record them, and deliver a finished product. Yet while air of that is going on, he's upgrading his recording studio, Awesome Lawson Studios, as well as repairing flood damage from recent torrential LA rains.

While I was trying to set up an interview with Lawson, he called (while driving his kids home from swimming practice) to say that held be rehearsing with Babyface the following day for an upcoming Grammy Awards performance. A couple of weeks later, when Lawson was holed up at New Yorh Waldorf Astoria Hotel, he called again to let me know that while in the city he would be doing his first acting role, in a new movie called The Family Web [One Long Day]. Plus he would be involved in meetings regarding a publishing deal for a book he's writing.

In the thirteen years I've known him, Ricky Lawson's pace has not changed. What has changed, though, is his position in the music industry. Ricky taught himself to play drums while growing up in Detroit, and with the help of his uncle Haroldl whose drumset he borrowed, and his uncle Paul, a Motown arranger, Lawson began to cultivate the knowledge and attitude he would need to carry on a successful career. After moving to LA in 1975, Ricky worked with Roy Ayers, the Brothers Johnson, and finalry Airto and Flora Purim, where he met Jimmy Haslip, the bassist who later brought Ricky into the Yellowjackets.

When Ricky and I met in 1985, he had attained some notoriety as the drummer in that band, though the group was proving more popular among musicians' circles than with the record buying public. Tilis made Lionel Richie's orrer for Ricky to join his band in 1986 very appealing. I Lawson's profile immediately escalated on Richie's Dancing On The Ceiling tour, for which his equipment needed to be state-of-the-art-well, as stateof-the-art as was possible in 1986. Lawson took the ever-growing computer age very seriously and expanded steadily climbed upward.

Next for Lawson was Michael Jackson, whose Bad tour became particularly funky by the benefit of the dummer's deep-felt grooves. After that Ricky was asked to join Whitney Houston's band, which he accepted. In fact, Ricky was still on retainer to Houston when Jackson's camp called again to ask him to do the follow-up Dangerous tour. Ricky hoped to go to work over continuing to col lect Houston's retainer.


The next big tour came in 1994, when Phil Collins asked Lawson to drive his band. While in the middle of a grueling eighteen-month world tour with Collins, Ricky was approached by Steely Dan to do their first tour in over twenty years. Lawson couldn't, and wouldn't, leave Collins. So Steely Dan booked Peter Eskine for their first tour.