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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, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

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!
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.
Jfan50
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!!!
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.
hands down the best drummer that ever lived
Nobody could swing a band like Buddy Rich! However, I've heard the infamous "bus tape". Wow! We all have warts... Garvin Bushell
You don't have to be a jerk to succeed. He was an amazing musician, who could disagree.
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.
thunderjetge n e
CLAMS, CLAMS?!!!! Anybody here ever heard the famous "bus tape"?
Near you
This guy is amazing!!!!!
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.
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.
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.
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
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? ._.
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?
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.
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
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
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.
troberts00
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
So big talent allows one to treat others with disrespect ....what a d i c k
HE WAS A WISE GUY AND A JERK ,BUT THE BEST I'VE EVER HEARD.
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
wdlampert3
Love the bass!
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.
The best Drummer in the World Alive or Dead He was the best !!!
All comments are true. He was a four star A-hole. And he drove the best big band for decades.
There is a difference between style and skill. when they collide, you get music, and that's what this is.
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.
gfplayer
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!
Perfection with an attitude !!!
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!
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.
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.
just good drummin'
He had kick-a** young players with him in his later years. He was difficult but his technique was outstanding.
Saw him twice as a kid with my parents in the 70's. Unbelievable drummer with flawless technique, but lived up to his reputation of being an A-hole. My father tried to introduce me ( I was about 12y/o and a drummer ) to Buddy when he was taking a break and he basically just brushed us off!. I met Louis Bellson a couple of years later and he was the most genuine nice guy....and also had unbelievable talent.
HEY mtneumann... . . . o f Course Herbie did it first he WROTE it!
Also a very funny man, his wit always requiring a victim. Remember him on Johnny Carson (a great jazz fan), skewering him like a hip Don Rickles.
If I remember he was with Stan Kenton. He had some wild beats and rem.. A great drummer..... B i l l Saw them in person around 1950. Bill Boucher
i shat my self i thought herbie hancock did chameleon first. I was wrong. Glad to find out who buddy rich was. awsome
No one matched his hard driving metronomic rhythms. He also had great personnel in his bands including great brass, Lin Biviano, Lyn Nichols, etc.
bodeenm
I saw him in Memphis...2 shows... he was great..10... b u c k s a session He was incrediable. . . g r e a t expiernce
I liked his brother Richie better?
He's ok. I think Linkin Park was a better guy though at drums.
drumminphil2 5
Buddy is legendary. He was what drumming is all about....pas s i o n and groove.
Buddy and his cast of virtuoso musicians assembled for one mind blowing experience.. . O h how we suffered when they were no longer around. Replaced by a bunch of shouting four cord guitar players and one damn good drummer...th e m we could have done without believe me.
Buddy Rich vs. Animal on youtube - classic!
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