Carter Anthony Beauford (born November 2, 1957, in Charlottesville, Virginia) is an American drummer, percussionist, and founding member of Dave Matthews Band. He is known for his ability to adapt to a variety of genres, and both his ambidextrous and his open hand drumming styles. He plays the drums and sings backing vocals in the band. Beauford was ranked by a Rolling Stone magazine reader's poll in 2010 as the tenth greatest drummer of all time.
Beauford was first exposed to the drums at age three. At the time, his father had bought tickets to a Buddy Rich concert and could not find someone to watch his son, so he took young Beauford along to the show. Beauford was mesmerized by Buddy Rich on stage. After that show, Beauford's father bought his son a tin drum set with paper heads, since Beauford showed so much interest in learning the instrument. Beauford began performing professionally when he was nine.
Beauford explains his unusual playing style in his instructional video "Under The Table & Drumming", attributing his use of left-hand-lead on a right-handed kit to playing his own kit in front of a mirror as a child in an attempt to emulate his favorite drummers, like Buddy Rich. He unknowingly set up his drums in reverse of whichever performer and set that he had in mind, in an attempt to make the mirrored image of himself match that of the audience's perspective, as he had seen it on stage and TV. This helped him to become completely ambidextrous at a very early age, albeit by accident.
Beauford earned a degree in Occupational Therapy from Shenandoah University, in Winchester, Virginia.
Secrets, Dave Matthews Band:
Eventually, he joined Secrets, a Richmond-based jazz fusion band. Other members included saxophonist LeRoi Moore, trumpeter John D'earth, vocalist Dawn Thompson, bassist Keith Horn, keyboardist Butch Taylor, keyboardist Dane Bryant, saxophonist Eddie Williams and virtuoso guitarist Tim Reynolds. Secrets performed throughout Virginia, at places such as The Jewish Mother in Virginia Beach, and at Miller's, the bar in Charlottesville where Dave Matthews worked as a bartender. Beauford also played jazz in Blue Indigo with LeRoi Moore, Sal Soghoian, and George Melvin. Blue Indigo performed regularly at Tokyo Rose and Miller's, and was featured at the Delaware Water Gap Jazz Festival. Eventually, Matthews approached both Beauford and Moore regarding some music he had written that he wished to record. Beauford agreed to perform on a demo, which is how he became involved with the group that was to become the Dave Matthews Band.
Beauford has also worked with other artists on jam projects, including Vertical Horizon, Carlos Santana, Rashawn Ross, John Popper (of Blues Traveler), Tim Reynolds, Béla Fleck and Victor Wooten; both alone and within Béla Fleck and the Flecktones.
Beauford uses a Yamaha Drums Recording Custom drum kit, a Ludwig LB417T Black Beauty Supra-Phonic snare drum, 6.5x14" with a die-cast hoop on the batter side and a triple flanged hoop snare side, Zildjian cymbals, Remo drumheads, Vic Firth sticks and mallets, Yamaha and Drum Workshop hardware including a Yamaha Hex-Rack since the 2008 Summer Tour and various Latin Percussion cowbells, woodblocks and other assorted percussion equipment. He also uses Footjoy golf gloves rather than traditional drum gloves.
Beauford has used several Jeff Ocheltree, and Ron Dunnett custom metal snares in the past, the most common being a bright purple with gold hardware he used for the better half of the 2000s. Around the 2006/7 tour season, the Dunnetts were replaced by a prototype silver Yamaha metal snare later to be confirmed by BeaufordBuddy.com to be Carter's forthcoming Signature Snare. The Yamaha Signature "Carter Beauford" Snare Drum is still a prototype, not in production. As of April 2009, photographs of Carter live showed him using a Ludwig Black Beauty in place of the Signature Snare. This has raised questions if the Signature snare has been dropped by Yamaha.
Beauford has a grown daughter from his first marriage. Having married a second time, he also now has two young children. Beauford discusses his family briefly while riding with the band in a helicopter over The Gorge Amphitheatre in their DVD The Gorge, in the "special features" section, when he was a teen.
Modern Drummer Readers Poll 2003 - Best Pop Drummer,
Modern Drummer Readers Poll 2003 - Best Recorded Performance: Dave Matthews Band: Live at Folsom Field, Boulder, Colorado