Rick Marotta has rhythm. In fact, he has so much rhythm he was offered a position in a band as a drummer before he even knew how to play the drums. As a kid, Mr. Marotta spent a lot of time competing in dance competitions. His friend David Spinozza was impressed.

“He said, ‘man, you have great rhythm, if you played drums I would hire you in my band,’” said Mr. Marotta.

When not playing drums Mr. Marotta swings a different set of sticks: golf clubs. — Jeanna Shepard

Sure enough, when Mr. Spinozza’s drummer was drafted into the Army, Mr. Marotta was hired to take his place. From there, his career quickly took off. Over the course of a 40-year career he has played on records and toured with everyone from Aretha Franklin, Steely Dan, Paul Simon, John Lennon, Stevie Nicks, Warren Zevon, Hall & Oates and many others.

This weekend, Mr. Marotta will perform back to back shows on Saturday and Sunday nights at Flatbread.

Mr. Marotta describes himself as a self-taught musician. “I would play a record on the record player and play along to it,” he said.

Mr. Marotta grew up in Westchester, N.Y. and learned from musicians like Andy Newmark, the onetime drummer for Sly and the Family Stone, who lived in the next town over. “We sat around talking and played drums together all the time,” Mr. Marotta said. “That’s all we talked about. Drums and sometimes girls.”

At first Mr. Marotta struggled to make ends meet financially, but quitting was not an option as he couldn’t shake the feeling he got playing for a crowd.

“I remember one gig I played in New York with a band called Giant that I walked out of with change in my hands,” he said. “I remember thinking I could do this for the rest for my life. And I had literally made less money than if I was standing on the street corner playing. But I was playing in front of people who were loving what they were hearing.”

Mr. Marotta was offered a job as a drummer before he even knew how to play the drums. — Jeanna Shepard

Mr. Marotta quickly became recognized within a community of musicians in and around New York city. For a number of years he remained an independent drummer, but eventually he joined a band called the Vagrants, which evolved into Brethren, the first band with which he recorded a studio album.

“That was the real launching pad for me as a musician,” he said. The album was critically acclaimed, and earned the attention of Beatles’ promoter Sid Bernstein, who became Brethren’s manager. This marked the beginning of life on the road for Mr. Marotta.

“We started opening for all the biggest acts from England — Traffic, Procol Harum, Ten Years After, Mad Dogs and Englishmen,” he said.

But then, as with many stories like this, the band members, in particular the lead singer, had problems dealing with their sudden fame.

“These guys were being tossed from growing up in a basement apartment in the Bronx, and the next thing you know, he is this guy standing in front of 3,000 people getting standing ovations and encores,” Mr. Marotta said referring to the lead singer. “I understood that you are as strong as the weakest link,” he continued. “We could be incredibly good, but have one egomaniac who can’t even get out of bed in the morning and you’re dead.”

Going forward, Mr. Marotta decided he would rely only on himself. Far from weathering a career lull, he toured with James Taylor, Carly Simon, Peter Frampton, and Roberta Flack, and recorded albums with Steely Dan.

Mr. Marotta writes and plays music at night. — Jeanna Shepard

“Don’t Take Me Alive was the first song I ever did with Steely Dan,” he said. Mr. Marotta also played drums on hit tracks such as Time Out of Mind, Peg and Hey Nineteen, which peaked at number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1981.

Mr. Marotta has since retired from touring, and now spends four months of the year on Martha’s Vineyard.

“It was really grueling being on the road,” he said. He now tends to seek respite from crowds, and composes music for film and television including the hit show Everybody Loves Raymond.

On the Island, Mr. Marotta pursues dual interests, swinging one set of sticks during the day, and another at night. He writes and plays music at night, and commits most of his free time during the day to playing golf. He won the President’s Cup at the Vineyard Golf Club this year, and is the only male repeat winner of the tournament.

“I only know that because I went and looked at the plaques,” he said with a laugh.

This weekend, Mr. Marotta will be joined onstage by a handpicked band that includes his brother Jerry, a drummer and singer who has worked with Peter Gabriel, Paul McCartney, Elvis Costello and Robbie Robertson among others. On Saturday, August 22, they will perform a show called Reeling in the Years, the music of Steely Dan. Sunday’s show will feature a lineup of cover tunes, including songs from the many bands the group has played with.

Mr. Marotta played a similar gig in Woodstock, N.Y. earlier this summer. “It was so much fun and the guys in the band were so great that I said why don’t we try and do this on the Vineyard,” he said. “It’s going to be two great nights of music.”

Mr. Marotta added that he especially enjoys performing for Vineyard audiences. “I would do it more if I weren’t so wrapped up in my leisure time,” he said.