Home » Jazz Musicians » Keith Killgo

Keith Killgo

Keith Killgo, drummer, vocalist and one of the founding members of the jazz-fusion group, the Blackbyrds, has been a part of the metamorphosis that has taken place in the world of jazz. From the age of four years old, he studied piano--going on to train with Roberta Flack. Although the piano was his first instrument, his affinity for the drums was exhibited early in his music career. By the time, he was eleven he had played drums with Sonny Stitt, Stan Getz, Miles Davis, Woody Shaw, Bill Hardman, Art Blakey’s band and Eddie Harris.

Killgo entered Bradley University in Illinois where he became a part of the Joe Henderson Quintet, along with Stanley Clark, Hal Galper and Woody Shaw. After playing and touring with Joe Henderson, he attended Howard University, where he met Donald Byrd and was selected to become a member of the Blackbyrds with Orville Saunders and Joe Hall. For the next ten years, the Blackbyrds played with George Duke, Herbie Hancock, Bobby Humphrey, Sonny Rollins and Andrew White. They received an array of awards including three gold albums and a Grammy nomination for “Walking in Rhythm.” Killgo wrote several hit singles for the Blackbyrds including, “Flying High,” and “Time is Moving.”

After the affiliation with Donald Byrd ended in 1977, Killgo and the Blackbyrds collaborated with George Duke on Better Days. Killgo wrote both the title song and “Love Don’t Strike Twice.” He later went on to form Krosswinds, a seven-person band, as well as recoding a solo LP consisting of three original compositions and a new version of Tommy James’ hit single, “Crystal Blue Persuasion.” Killgo has performed and/or recorded with his own band and artists as diverse as Stevie Wonder, Joe Williams, Jimmy Witherspoon, Gary Bartz, Milt Jackson, Carla Thomas, Gerald Albright, Carl Anderson, Roland Hanna, David “Fathead” Newman, Stanley Turrentine, Joey DeFranscesco, Wynton Marsalis, Dianne Reeves, James Moody, Patrice Rushen and others.

One of Keith’s projects is “StarJamz,” a music performance entertainment television special aired on TV One. The show brings together two stars from different generations to talk, perform individually, together and jam live with Keith Killgo’s StarJamz House Band. The first special features NAACP Image Award winner and American Idol 2003 champion Ruben Studdard and multiple Grammy Award-winning soul vocalist Peabo Bryson.

Keith is currently promoting his latest release, 'Mood for Love' on his Krosslink label. Featuring Donald Byrd, Larry Coryell, the late Oscar Brown, Jr and Joe Henderson, Keith Killgo returns to his roots on his sophomore solo effort with a combination of live and studio cuts.

Read more



Album Discography

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Donald Byrd Live:...

Blue Note Records


This World

Krosslink Records



Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.