Born as Stephen Kendall Gadd on 9 April 1945. When he was seven years old, his uncle, a drummer in the US Army, encouraged him to take drum lessons. By the age of eleven Gadd had sat in with Dizzy Gillespie. After graduating from Irondequoit’s Eastridge High School, he attended the Manhattan School of Music for two years before transferring to the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, playing in wind ensembles and concert bands. After Gadd finished college in the late 1960s, he played regularly with Chuck Mangione and his brother Gap. His first recording was on Gap Mangione’s debut solo album, Diana in the Autumn Wind (1968).
After spending three years in the U.S. Army as a drummer in the Army Music Program, he worked with a band in Rochester. In 1972, Gadd formed a trio with Tony Levin and Mike Holmes, traveling to New York with them. The trio eventually broke up, but Gadd began to work mainly as a studio musician. He has worked with popular musicians from many genres, including Simon & Garfunkel, Steely Dan, James Taylor, Eric Clapton, Joe Cocker, Grover Washington Jr., Chick Corea, Lee Ritenour, and Al Di Meola.
For Kate Bush, he drummed on the tracks The Song Of Solomon, Deeper Understanding, Flower of the Mountain, Top Of The City, 50 Words For Snow, Lake Tahoe, Misty, Snowed In At Wheeler Street, Snowflake and Wild Man.