Jonathan Moffett – Legendary Michael Jackson Drummer

Published: December 14, 2022

Jonathan Phillip Moffett, born on the 17th of November 1954 in New Orleans, Louisiana, is an American drummer, songwriter, and music producer. Most of his career he spent collaborating with the Jackson family, mainly with Michael Jackson. 

He also collaborated with many other musicians and producers, such as  Elton John, Stevie Wonder, and Quincy Jones, to name a few. He has done incredible work both as a producer and drummer, so let’s dive into Jonathan Moffett’s Bio, his career, and a bit of his private life and collaborations. 

Moffet, AKA Sugarfoot, also played on Madona’s True Blue album.

The Jonathan Moffett Personal Info

Real NameJonathan Phillip Moffett
Stage Name Jonathan Moffett
NicknameSugarfoot, Foot 
Birth PlaceUnited States, Louisiana, New Orleans
Birth Date17.11.1954.
Zodiac Sign Scorpio
SpouseMyra Hissami Moffett
SiblingsTwo brothers 
Social MediaInstagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube
AwardsYouTube Silver Creator Award in 2018;13 RIAA Platinum Awards and 1 RIAA Gold Award for different artists, mainly for the Jackson family.

Jonathan Moffett Family

Jonathan Phillip Moffett was born on November 17. 1954 in New Orleans, Louisiana. He is the third child in his family and also the youngest one. He has two older brothers that play guitar and bass guitar. 

While his brother were guitarists, Jonathan’s father of an unknown name encouraged him to play drums. However, Jonathan initially wanted to play the bass guitar just like his brother long before drums. He was keen to observe bass guitar parts, so he often mimicked them on the drums. 

The incredible thing about the youngest Moffett is that he did not have any music training and learned how to play drums by ear without any lessons from teachers. One time he stated that his influences were Stevie Wonder, Zigaboo, Billy Cobham, Buddy Rich, and many other drummers, mainly from New Orleans.

Jonathan Moffett First Career Steps

During his childhood, Moffett toured with local bands and artists and performed at nightclubs. That’s when his career started developing. However, his professional career started in 1979 when he started drumming for The Jackson 5. 

One day, in 1979, on his own luck or coincidence, Jonathan ran into The Jackson’s musical director, James McField. James told Moffett they needed a new drummer, and they were holding the audition right then. To be precise, the final auditions were the day they ran on each other, but McField had extended for him, knowing how eager he was to audition. 

Jonathan was familiar with The Jacksons’ songs because he has been a huge fan ever since; however, he didn’t know everything about it. After the audition, the producer told Moffett they would tell him the decision soon. The same evening, Jonathan received a phone call with the happiest news of his life. Moffett is joining The Jacksons, and little did he know that it would last for the next 30 years! That same year, Jonathan did his first major tour, the Destiny Tour.

Jonathan was given an unusual nickname Sugarfoot. He got his nickname because of his precise, articulate, and distinctly pronounced bass drum work. But also because he frequently used advanced foot pedal techniques. Such drumming requires a lot of precision and stamina. And none other than Michael Jackson gave him that nickname.

One evening, Jonathan developed his kung-fu-inspired signature moves during a marathon practice session. The kung-fu-inspired move is a “one-handed cymbal catch,” and his “backlash-whiplash” cymbal crash by placing two cymbals behind himself and crashing them without looking.

Jonathan and The Jacksons 

Having only three days to prepare for his first professional tour, Michael Jackson was shocked by Moffett’s performance. He had a remarkable ability to keep up with the rest of the band, especially with Michale’s moves, giving his dancing more visual power and playing spontaneous sound effects on his drums to accompany Michael’s moves.

After the Destiny tour, Jonathan was also part of the “Triumph Tour” in 1981. This tour was named “one of the best tours of 1967 to 1987” by Rolling Stones. In the wake of this, “The Jacksons Live” album was released, which has been certified double platinum and sold over 2 million copies all over the world.

Moffett was very devoted to The Jacksons and was drumming all around the United States and Canada. They did another tour together in 1984, known as the Victory Tour. At that time, Moffett met Madonna backstage at one of their performances. She was so thrilled by his performance that she asked him to drum for her upcoming The Virgin Tour in 1985, which he happily accepted. 

Moffett performed with Eddie Van Halen as well, playing the guitar solo on “Beat It” on a few shows as a surprise guest. Aside from that, Moffett got a lot of compliments from the one and only Prince, as he saw many of his performances with The Jacksons.

From 1993 to 1995, Moffett worked and toured with Janet Jackson while developing her solo music career. They were touring together on her “Janet World Tour” for almost 3 years. This tour encompassed North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia, and Jonathan performed with her on the tour’s first leg.

The greatest thing about Jonathan was his devotion and connection with the performers. He was able to design innovative, one-of-a-kind drum kits for every tour that complemented the stage design. Through his work with The Jacksons and creative drumming style, he became one of the most in-demand pop music drummers of all time and has performed on 23 world tours.

Touring with Michael Jackson and their friendship 

Even though the nickname Sugarfoot was given by Michael, he would often call Moffett Foot. Since the beginning of his drumming career with The Jacksons, Moffett was Michael Jackson’s live drummer of choice. He would always call him first to join them for every show and/or tour, even when he was performing with other artists. 

The duo was inseparable for 30 years, to be precise, from when Jonathan joined The Jacksons in 1979 until the very death of Michael Jackson in 2009. Moffett performed with Michael during almost all of his solo career on various shows and tours. They did numerous shows together, including four tours, and the last one, “This Is It,” would’ve been the fifth. 

Besides their professional relationship, Michael and Jonathan were very close friends. He hung out at The Jackson Estate while Michaels’s mother,  Katherine Jackson, was like a second mother to Jonathan. They were very close; they would have drawing contests while touring and were constantly on a call with each other when they were not together. Aside from that, Moffett was with Michael the night before he died, proving their closeness.

Jonathan also drummed for The Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Celebration in 2007. In honor of Michael Jackson’s 30th anniversary as a solo artist, CBS broadcast a two-hour television special. Moffett drummed on the balcony above the performers with the rest of the band. 

Jonathan Moffett and Other Artists

As mentioned above, Jonathan toured with Madonna in USA and Canada on “The Virgin Tour” in 1985. Madonna was so delighted with Moffett. Their previous tour together was not only massive but gained huge success, so she asked him to accompany her on her next tour in 1987, named “Who’s that Girl.” 

The mentioned tour was even more significant than the previous one, reaching enormous success. Moffett did a final tour with Madonna on her “Blond Ambition Tour” in 1990. 

Aside from touring with Madonna and The Jacksons, Moffett also did numerous shows with the legend, Elton John. He joined on his tour Reg Strikes Back Tour in 1988/89 with an incredible 87 performances, and he also drummed for Elton’s Past Tour 1989/90, where he did 74 shows. Moffett helped Elton with his four-disc box set, To Be Continued, and he was credited for live drumming on 1993 Elton’s Duets album for the song “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me.”

George Michael, an English singer, asked Jonathan to join him on his upcoming “Cover to Cover” tour in 1991. Moffett accepted, and he did 30 shows with him in the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Brazil, and Japan.

However, Jonathan worked with many other artists on their albums and songs, including Richard Marx, Julian Lennon, Vasco Rossi, Marilyn Martin, and Diana Ross, among others, and keeps drumming and producing for many musicians up until this day.

The post Jonathan Moffett – Legendary Michael Jackson Drummer appeared first on DRUM! Magazine.

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