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Buddy Rich

When it came to technique, speed, power, and the ability to put together incredible drum solos, Buddy Rich lived up to the billing of "the world's greatest drummer." Although some other drummers were more innovative, in reality none were in his league even during the early days. A genius, Buddy Rich started playing drums in vaudeville as "Traps, the Drum Wonder" when he was only 18 months old; he was completely self-taught. Rich performed in vaudeville throughout his childhood and developed into a decent singer and a fine tap dancer. But drumming was his purpose in life, and by 1938 he had discovered jazz and was playing with Joe Marsala's combo. Rich was soon propelling Bunny Berigan's orchestra, he spent most of 1939 with Artie Shaw (at a time when the clarinetist had the most popular band in swing), and then from 1939-1945 (except for a stint in the military) he was making history with Tommy Dorsey. During this era it became obvious that Buddy Rich was the king of drummers, easily dethroning his friend Gene Krupa. Rich had a bop-ish band during 1945-1947 that did not catch on, toured with Jazz at the Philharmonic, recorded with a countless number of all-stars in the 1950s for Verve (including Charlie Parker, Lester Young, Art Tatum, and Lionel Hampton), and worked with Les Brown, Charlie Ventura, Tommy Dorsey (1954-1955), and Harry James (off and on during 1953-1966). A heart attack in 1959 only slowed him down briefly and, although he contemplated becoming a full-time vocalist, Rich never gave up the drums.

In 1966, Buddy Rich beat the odds and put together a successful big band that would be his main outlet for his final 20 years. His heart began giving him trouble starting in 1983, but Rich never gave his music less than 100 percent and was still pushing himself at the end. A perfectionist who expected the same from his sidemen (some of whom he treated cruelly), Buddy Rich is definitively documented in Mel Tormé's book Traps the Drum Wonder. His incredible playing can be viewed on several readily available videotapes, although surprisingly few of his later big band albums have been made available yet on CD. ~ Scott Yanow
full bio

Selected Discography


Track List: Time Out

1. Goodbye Yesterday

2. Machine

3. Bouncin' With Bud

4. Readymix

5. Senator Sam

6. Party Time

7. Joy Spring

8. Funk City-Ola

9. Loose

10. Time Out

11. Chicago


Track List: The Chronological Classics: Buddy Rich 1950 - 1955

1. Carnegie Blues (Airmail Special)

2. Let's Fall In Love

3. Me & My Jaguar

4. Just Blues

6. Bongo Bass & Guitar

9. Everything Happens To Me

10. Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams

11. Sure Thing

12. Glad To Be Unhappy

13. Sunday

14. The Monster


Track List: The Best Of Buddy Rich

Disc 1

1. Nutville

2. Kilimanjaro Cookout

3. Big Mac

4. Backwoods Sideman

5. Time Check

6. Prelude To A Kiss

7. Waltz Of The Mushroom Hunters

8. Senator Sam

Disc 2

1. Chameleon (live)

2. Jumpin' At The Woodside

3. Sierra Lonely

4. Cardin Blue

5. Nica's Dream

Disc 3

1. Three Day Sucker

2. Tommy Medley

3. On Broadway

4. Pieces Of Dreams

5. Ease On Down The Road

6. West Side Story Medley

7. Playhouse

8. Lush Life


Track List: Time Being

1. Paul's Tune

2. Buddy Rich

3. Straight No Chaser

4. Dancing Men

5. Little Train

6. Two Bass Hit

7. Time Being

8. Best Coast

9. Space Shuttle

10. Sassy Strut


Track List: Swingin' New Big Band

1. Readymix

2. Basically Blues

3. Critic's Choice

4. My Man's Gone Now (Live)

5. Up Tight (Everything's Alright)

6. Sister Sadie

7. More Soul

8. West Side Story Medley: A) Overture / B) Cool / C) Something's Coming / D) Somewhere

9. What'd I Say

10. Hoe Down

11. Step Right Up

12. Apples (Aka Gino)

13. Chicago

14. In A Mellotone (Live)

15. Never Will I Marry

16. Lament For Lester

17. Naptown Blues


Track List: Blues Caravan

1. Blowin' The Blues Away

2. BR Blues

3. Late Date

4. Caravan

5. Young Blood

6. I Remember Clifford


Track List: This One's For Basie

1. Blue And Sentimental

2. Down For Double

3. Jump For Me

4. Blues For Basie

5. Jumping At The Woodside

6. Ain't It The Truth

7. Shorty George

8. 920 Special


Track List: Birdland

1. Mexicali Nose

2. Birdland

3. Milestones

4. Just Friends

5. CTA

6. God Bless The Child

7. Moment's Notice

8. I Hear A Rhapsody

9. Three Day Suckers

10. Parthenia

11. Keep The Customer Satisfied


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My brother, also a drummer, knew Buddy and some of the musicians in his late 60's band. Buddy tried to emulate Tommy Dorsey when it came to handling his band - but there was only one Tommy Dorsey! I had the pleasure of meeting him once and he was very nice, One great drummer, who could really drive a band.
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Buddy was my idol - no sports plays - just buddy - mister sticks-
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Yes, he was very, very good...oh yes!
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Saw him live in 71 and around 78(?). Got to (with a friend) hold him up after his solo when he shook our hands at the end. No question he was the most influential drummer...ev e r .
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"Tommy Medley..." Wow. Just wow. Speechless. He was my drummer grandfather' s favorite and no wonder. RIP both.
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Best drummer ever,,ask Neil pert,,,
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Buddy could do more with two brushes than two drummers with four sticks.
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Buddy Rich was simply the greatest known drummer in history. I would encourage those who appreciate world-class drumming talent to check out Dave Weckl, who I consider to be the 2nd best. (Sorry, Neil Peart fans!)
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Louie Belson-Skin Deep via Ellington. My fav. 2 minutes and 45 seconds kicking 2 basses!
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pure dynamo. nuclear reactor. best live. unstoppable, unlimited energy.
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garammasala1 9 6 8
My grandfather was a drummer and Buddy was his favorite. Love Buddy and the memories!
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My old man played jazz drums and was working as a 19 yo gopher at MGM studios in Culver City in 1939 when he got to hang out and sit in with the big name bands coming through LA in those days. He knew Buddy, Gene, Benny and others who, in their music, kept his spirit after coming back from Iwo Jima and other gigs in Hell. Beyond any other musician it was Buddy who made my old man happy, and he passed that along to me. Thanks dad, and thanks Buddy!
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Just saw the Buddy Rich Big Band Alumni Tribute Concert here in Albuquerque last weekend. Steve Smith took over the drum chair...the stage was on fire! The Buddy Rich stories told by each alumnus before the performance was worth the price of admission alone. SMOKIN!
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The drum battle with Gene and Buddy at Jazz at the Phil was unbelievable - - m u s t have been 60+ years ago but I recall it easily.
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dilligaf1962 4
I saw Buddy at Marriot's Great America amusement park, San Jose California in 84 or 85 can't remember witch but it doesn't matter because I know I got the chance to see the best and I will never forget it!!!
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Saw Buddy Live at Great American music Hall in SF just before he passed away. Got to go back stage and meet him. He signed my Big Swing Face album. It's framed in my house. Need I say more.
Mr Stan K.
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hands down the best drummer that ever lived
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Nobody could swing a band like Buddy Rich! However, I've heard the infamous "bus tape". Wow! We all have warts... Garvin Bushell
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You don't have to be a jerk to succeed. He was an amazing musician, who could disagree.
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Saw him at Lennies on the Turpike on numerous occasions, what an incredible place to hear the full band in such a small venue. Wow.
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thunderjetge n e
CLAMS, CLAMS?!!!! Anybody here ever heard the famous "bus tape"?
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Near you
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This guy is amazing!!!!!
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Buddy Rich's signature is his sense of time. Nobody had better time than Buddy. Nowhere is that more evident than the 1955 recordings with Art Tatum/Lionel Hampton/Budd y Rich. Those three men's sense of time was in lock step and the music on those albums is a treat for anyone's ears.
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So Gene Krupa is inferior to Buddy Rich.Gene made some terrible mistake in not playing like Buddy.Why do we need two Buddy Rich's when we could have a Gene Krupa and a Buddy Rich.Now that Buddy is declared greatest they go after him.There are drummers more innovative than him. there goes the greatest drummer crown. Doesn't any body realize that each musician has their own unique creative instincts that they can only discover and express but can't deny. Judgements spoil listening enjoyment.
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grthomsonsme d c t r
...precision . I can't recall the drum instruction dvd that slowed down Buddy's movements to help teach his sticking techniques; but, it was amazing. His ability to play with speed; hand independence ; precision; dynamic volume; and "move" in front of, behind, or with big bands gives me goose bumps everytime I hear his work.
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grthomsonsme d c t r
Has anyone been to the BUDDY RICH ANNUAL REUNION CONCERT - as musician or audience member? Neil Peart (of RUSH fame) and Buddy's daughter helped bring it to fruition. Check out the YT vids. Peart mentions Buddy's techniques in a few of his DVD and books. Hope more of Buddy's recordings will make it to vinyl or cd soon. BTW, I never tire from listening to him in RICH V MAX ROACH or TIME IN. I play drums just enough to realize how amazing he was - multiple time signatures on each hand with such pr
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drummingdude 9

Did you seriously just compare Buddy Rich to Rob Bourdon?????
The guy wasn't even a stain in his mothers alternative rock undies when Buddy rich was working on his 43rd project , there's no way in hell you can even....just . . . r e a l l y man? ._.
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I came here to listen to and read about one of the greatest drummers to have ever lived. Period. Not hear about his drama. His personal life and his musical career (Given they DO go hand in hand) can not be compared, what he did for the Jazz/ Drumming community is worth so much more than what he did wrong by his band mates, its hard enough to follow up something like a solo of his, let alone keep up with him on stage. He demanded excellence, after all, he was REQUESTED for most of his bands no?
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Buddy was one of a kind. I don't k now how many times I made a point of getting out to see the band live. He knew he was good and expected his band members to perform. He was able to put some great bands together. I never saw a drummer who could out drum him. He never seemed to either. RIP we miss you Buddy.
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myerspercuss i o n
Every once in a while the Lord bestows unworldly talent in an individual. We can only look on in disbelief. Michelangelo . Shakespeare. Beethoven. Bernstein. Mahler. DaVinci. I would add Buddy Rich to that list. His speed, power, artistry and precision (never wasted a single note) were impeccable and unequalled. Only Joe Morello had more musicianship . In comparison, today's drummers need mammoth, inverted sets to make up for talent. Listen to A NIGHT IN TUNESIA for best solo EVER
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You have to be that jerk if you want to succeed and be the best the drummer is the key to all music and I don't know about anyone else but if my name is on the product I better be getting 110% from the people that I hire
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Outwardly, yes, perhaps he was a demanding jerk at times. He gave a 100% and he expected nothing less in return. He did not suffer fools. But many members of his band can attest to his behind-the-s c e n e s benevolence and generosity - not to mention their paychecks still came first during lean times.
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so he was a jerk, Bing Crosby beat his kids and Frank Sinatra was an ego freak. How many big talent guys weren't a jerk in some way? And when you drive for absolute perfection, you can come across as an arse
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So big talent allows one to treat others with disrespect ....what a d i c k
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Anybody who compares Linkin Park's drummer to Buddy Rich is an obvious retard if anything drummers now a days got inspired by what Buddy Rich has done
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Love the bass!
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I saw him play live about six times. Each time I sat in awe wondering how he did what he did. No one played drums like Buddy.
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The best Drummer in the World Alive or Dead He was the best !!!
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All comments are true. He was a four star A-hole. And he drove the best big band for decades.
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There is a difference between style and skill. when they collide, you get music, and that's what this is.
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To my ears, Buddy had the most exciting big band of all time. I love so many big bands, but Buddy's groups in the 60s-80s will always be my favorites.
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The only instrumental i s t s driven as hard as a drummer are in the trumpet section. Playing lead is all attitude. Technique is nice, but you gotta wanna lead the band!
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Perfection with an attitude !!!
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He came to our high school in manchester n.h.(west high)Back in the mid 70's,To play in our gymnasium.Th e place was full of kids to see him,myself included.Whe n he walked in,he "claimed it was to noisy"Then walked out.I don't care how great he was.He' was a jerk,and a bad person.None of us new about his crazy personality until much later in our lives!No role model should ever be able to act like that!
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Dear Drummingdude 9 : Is Linkin Park a drummer who I never heard of?? Any REAL drummingdude knows there is no comparison between Rich and ANYBODY.
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Gene Krupa was once asked who was the greatest drummer and he replied.." I am....and then there is Buddy" Even Krupa knew that Rich was the greatest then and probably for all time.
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just good drummin'
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He had kick-a** young players with him in his later years. He was difficult but his technique was outstanding.
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