Born in Panama, Billy Cobham moved to the United States at age 3. He began playing drums at age 4.
As a professional drummer, Cobham made his start with the Horace Silver quintet and as a studio musician for Atlantic Records. He was a founding member of Dreams (with Randy and Michael Brecker), played with Miles Davis who he eventually left to form the seminal fusion band, the Mahavishnu Orchestra, alongside legendary guitarist John McLaughlin. In 1973, Cobham released his debut album Spectrum
, which is still considered one of the most important recordings in the fusion genre. Over the last several decades, Cobham has worked with Jack Bruce, Bob Weir, and released several solo records that have featured an outstanding assembly of talent (Frank Gambale, Jon Hammer, George Duke, and Chaka Khan among others).