He became known by some in the music world in the mid-1980s mostly thanks to the huge success of Peter Gabriel's 1986 album So and his subsequent work with Sting on the albums …Nothing Like the Sun and The Soul Cages. Since then he has been prominently featured in the pop, rock and world music scenes playing with numerous bands and artists, including Afro Celt Sound System, Jeff Beck, Al Di Meola, Tears For Fears,Eurythmics, Simple Minds, Dire Straits, Jan Garbarek, Manu Chao, Loreena McKennitt, Youssou N'Dour, Robbie Robertson, Joan Armatrading, Joe Satriani, Tori Amos, Richard Wright, Kyle Eastwood, Ryuichi Sakamoto and the aforementioned Peter Gabriel and Sting, with whom he has also toured extensively. Manu has also worked with Zlatan Stipišić Gibonni, a popular Croatian singer, on his albums Mirakul (2001) and Unca Fibre (2006), and has toured with Gibonni supporting the two albums.
He played drums on all tracks except one on Tracy Chapman's 1992 release Matters of the Heart.
From 1985 to 1988 he was in the band Preface, with guitar player Kamil Rustam.
In 1992, Katché released his first solo album, It's About Time, largely in the rock genre. His subsequent solo releases have all been jazz. He released his second solo album on September 12, 2005 entitled Neighbourhood, which features Jan Garbarek on saxophone, Tomasz Stanko on trumpet, Marcin Wasilewski on piano and Slawomir Kurkiewicz on double bass. His second ECM release, Playground was released in September 2007 (see below). In March 2010, Katché released Third Round, again on ECM.
From 2003 to 2007, along with producer Dove Attia, composer André Manoukian and singer Marianne James, he was one of the four judges in the TV-show Nouvelle Star, the French version ofIdol series. He was the most feared of them for his wit and his severe judgement about the groove and the rhythm of the singing contestants.
Since January 2008, Katché has hosted the monthly program One Shot Not on Arte.
In August 2011 the album Rock the Tabla was released, featuring Manu Katché, Billy Cobham, A.R. Rahman, Hossam Ramzy and Omar Faruk Tekbilek.