Gordy Knudtson is the drummer for the Steve Miller Band; founder and head of the Percussion Department at McNally Smith College in St. Paul, Minnesota; and president/owner of GK-Music.com. His involvement in music began with the piano in grade school, moved to clarinet in middle school, then switched to drums in high school at age 15. He studied with Marv Dahlgren, Floyd Thompson, and Elliott Fine. Within two years of playing his first professional gig at age 17, Gordy was doing studio work in Minneapolis' burgeoning commercial music scene of the 1970's performing on many jingles, radio & TV station logos, industrial film scores, and regional record albums. From 1975 to 1981, Gordy also played with the Minneapolis based bands Passage, The Doug Maynard Band, and The Lamont Cranston Band.
In 1981, Gordy was hired by blues guitar legend Roy Buchanan to tour the US, Canada, and Australia. The following year he joined jazz pianist/vocalist Ben Sidran's band playing clubs, concerts, and festivals throughout the U.S., Europe, and Japan. Gordy played with Ben for more than six years and can be heard on three of Sidran's CDs: "Cool Paradise", "Too Hot To Touch", and "On the Live Side".
In 1987, Gordy joined the Steve Miller Band. Known for many hits like "Fly Like an Eagle", "Rockin' Me", "Jet Airliner", "Swingtown", "The Joker", "Abracadabra", and others, the band toured every year until 2001 when Steve began a three year hiatus. Gordy's TV appearances with Steve prior to 2001 include The Late Show with David Letterman, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Friday Night Videos, and The Arsenio Hall Show. After the hiatus, the band resumed touring in 2004 and recorded a live concert DVD in 2007 for Coming Home Studios called Steve Miller Band — Live from Chicago which was broadcast on PBS television stations across the country. In 2010 they appeared on CMT Crossroads — Steve Miller & Keney Chesney, and the BBC's The Jools Holland Show. In 2011 the band appeared on Austin City Limits. The entire concert, taped in ACL's brand new Moody Theater, was released on DVD in 2012. Gordy can also be heard on six of the bands recordings: "Born 2B Blue", "Wide River", "The Box Set", "Bingo", "Let Your Hair Down", and "The Joker Live".
During Steve Miller's 2001-2003 hiatus, Gordy toured and recorded with Cuban piano virtuoso Nachito Herrera who had moved to Minneapolis from Havana in the late 90's. They played regional jazz clubs, concerts & festivals, and recorded a CD on the Dakota Live label called "Nachito Herrera Live — 2" which was released in 2006.
When home in Minneapolis Gordy has always done a wide variety freelance work. In 2007 was called to fill-in at the last minute for Anton Fig with Booker T. & the MGs featuring Steve Cropper and Duck Dunn. Fig's plane had been delayed so Gordy covered the first show without rehearsal, and received kudos from the band, the audience, and the press for his performance. The 8/9/07 StarTribune review was headlined Local drummer saves groove for Rock Hall of Famers. In the article Steve Cropper is quoted saying Gordy was "the best new drummer I've ever worked with." (See Review)
Over the years Gordy has also performed and/or recorded with Jack MacDuff, Jay McShann, Dave Brubeck, Ernie Watts, Eddie Harris, Bobby Watson, Eric Gravatt, Bobby Shew, Richie Cole, Phil Woods, Georgie Fame, Howard Roberts, Gene Bertoncini, Phil Upchurch, Othello Molineaux, Diane Schuur, Patrice Rushen, Kevin Mahogany, Geoff Keezer, Keith Jarrett, James Williams, Manfredo Fest, Sergio Mendes, Patty Austin, CeCe Winans, Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, Leo Kottke, Peter Ostroushko, Ann Hampton Calloway, Garrison Keilor, Chuck Berry, Bob Hope, Don Rickles, Bob Newhart, Dick Van Dyke, Willie Murphy, Alexander O'Neal, and The Smothers Brothers.
Gordy's involvement with music education began in the mid 80's with a small number of private students. He discovered he really enjoyed teaching and became inspired to write his own educational materials. In 1989, he founded GK Music to publish his first book called Rhythms & Accents for Drummers. Around this same time Jack McNally and Doug Smith recruited Gordy to create a drumset oriented percussion program for their new vocational music school in Minneapolis called MusicTech. Over the ensuing years, the school has moved to St. Paul, changed it's name to McNally Smith College, and become an accredited four year college with an enrollment of over 500 students.
Gordy has authored many percussion method books. His books and video on The Open/Close Technique, released in 2002, were the first to be published on the topic. In the past, this technique had only been used in one hand at a time. It tended to be seen as a novelty, or trick technique, with limited usefulness. Gordy developed nomenclature, a notational system, and a method for synchronizing it in both hands at the same time, creating a genre of single stroke rolls built from multi-note strokes. This work generated an invitation from the Percussive Arts Society to be one of three presenters chosen for a special clinic series on hand technique at PASIC 2003, called the "Hand Development Series". The other two presenters were Joe Morello and Jim Chapin (See Percussive Notes promo article). In 2011 he published "Morphing Doubles with Open/Close Technique" which shows how the technique can be used to morph rudiments. This book introduces and uses another innovation of his, Slow Motion Notation, which provides a new level of mechanical insight and understanding to the underlying relationships of different rudiments.
Like many other musicians, Gordy suffers from tinitus and noise induced hearing loss. In 1995 his company, GK Music, became the first company to make and market hearing protection stereo headphones designed specifically for musicians. These headphones provide much more acoustic isolation than regular headphones. They help protect a musician's hearing from loud external sounds AND excessive headphone volume levels. His success with this idea spawned competition but his current model, called UltraPhones, is still the isolation headphone of choice for professional musicians across the country.