Small Time Club Drummer Hits the Big Time

Matt Coddington
MDI Contributor

Las Vegas is known for its entertainment. I lived there from April 2004 until March 2010 and took advantage of and was exposed to quite a bit of it. Throughout my life, at different times, I have worked as a professional musician. A drummer.

During my stay in Las Vegas, the music found me once again. People I worked with, whom I had a garage band with for fun, encouraged me to seek out professional opportunities in town due to what they perceived as to my professional capabilities.

So I did.

I picked up a copy of The Las Vegas Weekly one day and perused the musician ads. Singer wanted, guitar player looking, new band forming, etc. I saw an ad wanting a drummer for an established act, need singing ability, and young.

I wasn’t exactly young, but what the hell. Answer the ad and see what happens.

I called the phone number and spoke to a guy, and we met outside the Palms Casino. Talked more, I gave him a tape of some of my playing. Heard back and he invited me to a rehearsal session at the guitar player’s house. Those rehearsals were good, but didn’t produce a working pro band. What they did produce however was a relationship and opportunity to work with the bass player from The Village People, the bass player who worked with them at the height of their career across the world playing stadiums, and who was still in touch with the lead singer.

So off we went. The bass player and I. Through his established Las Vegas booking and management, we played country music with the Country Superstars and the Grand National Fiddle Champion of Nevada, who put on a Charlie Daniels show. Then the announcement came.

The bass player, still in contact with the lead singer of The Village People, called and said rehearsals would begin for a show. The show would be held at the Mandalay Bay Resort House Of Blues. Main stage. Off we went.

Rehearsals ensued. The band consisted of five backup singers from some of the best shows in progress on the strip, the top horn section in town, three separate keyboard players, a guitar player, a percussionist from Parliament-Funkadelics, the bass player, the star lead singer, and me. All of the musicians were paid for our rehearsals.

Huh?! Paid to rehearse? Yep.

We worked on YMCA, In The Navy, Fire Island, and all of the Village People hits. Everything came together beautifully and tight. The concert date was set.

The day arrived and we arrived early of course to begin setup. All gear was setup and sound-check ensued, fast and excellent. Food catered and delivered. Time to hit the stage.

One hour on stage and I had never, ever, played so hard. Beating on those pagan skins like my life depended on it. A bomb could’ve gone off outside and I would not have noticed. Complete and utter concentration because at that level, no mistakes are allowed. Disco music and the drumming was equal to hard rock. 

In the middle of the concert, the supporting radio station with the lead singer’s sons and daughters came out and awarded him the seven platinum album awards he never received for the lyrics he wrote and sang on all the hit songs the band recorded. It was a beautiful moment for that man. The remaining evening was a celebration at the Palms and relaxation after a job well done.

I am one of a very small number of drummers who’s played Village People music with Victor Willis, the lead singer, and Keith Starkey, the bass player.

This is one of my success stories as a result of taking a chance and relying on myself.

You can do it too. Had I doubted … leaving California and starting a new life in Las Vegas, answering an ad in a weekly rag, relying on myself to pull it out and play on a stage that major musicians had graced long before I set foot upon it … I would not have this success and be able to carry it to propel me into my next successful adventure.

Remember, doubt kills the warrior.

And it takes a warrior to be able to admit he’s played Village People music!

2 thoughts on “Small Time Club Drummer Hits the Big Time”

  1. Congratulations Coddington,

    The Village People were a tight act and made some of the most fun music of the disco era, when when people were half as priviliged, had twice the fun, singers didn’t need auto-tune & musicians played instruments not computers.

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