Sunday, October 12, 2008

My Home Office: Behind the Drums

To back away from the recent serious tone of some of the posts, I thought I'd take the easy road with some YouTube clips. Recently I've been reaquainting myself with my drums, and in the process, no doubt, reaffirmed my elderly neighbors' disdain for them. Screw 'em. I bought the set the Spring after we moved into our house. It was torture for almost 8 years being without a true set of drums for my own, bouncing from apartment to apartment. Like most cool hobbies or toys in life, we can get bored with them. That's been the case for the past year with the drums. but I'm back at it. No goals or anything, just the therapeutic feeling of tuning everything else out and playing as sharp and as clean as I can. For those hours, only the music matters.

Something that made me rekindle this passion was an evening spent perusing old classic clips of a drummer for whom there is no equal. I had heard of Buddy Rich from a few adults when I was young. But I was a metalhead, swooned by the power chops of Alex Van Halen, Charlie Benante, Nicko McBrain, and the Rock Drum God himself, the reason I even picked up a drumstick, Rush's Neil Peart. I decided to buy a CD of Buddy's, Mercy Mercy, when I was in high school, and I was blown away. Problem was, I really needed to see it to believe it. I never really got the chance to see much at all of Buddy actually play the drums, until I started looking around on YouTube. I was hooked, and I was speechless. Buddy passed away in 1987, but I think any honest drummer will tell you that there has never been, still to this day, a better drummer than Buddy Rich. He's Beethoven, He's Michael Jordan, He's Tiger Woods, he's.....whatever. You don't have to be a fann of Jazz, swing, or big band to appreciate the gifts of Buddy. All you have to do is see it to believe it.

Apparently I missed the fact that he was a regular on the Tonight Show back in the 70's and 80's, as Johnny Carson was fascinated by Buddy, and they had developed a good friendship. These are a lot of the clips that you can find now, and it's all great stuff. I've picked out two clips that I think show Buddy at his ridiculous best. The first one is a solo of his from 1970, and from about the 3:10 mark to the end, his single-stroke roll is beyond human.

This is one of at least dozens of his appearances on the Tonight Show. Best I can figure this is from 1984 or 85. That puts him at 66 or 67 years old in this appearance. Unreal. You can also get an idea of his uber-confident & cool personality in the interview afterwards. There was absolutely nobody like him. Ever.

And I thought I could end this post without adding this one, but I can't. Here's Neil Peart, playing his stripped down jazz kit with the Buddy Rich Big Band. He even throws in his trademark cowbells, so there's no mistaking who he is. Well, If you've stayed with this blog post this long, you've pretty much learned 80% of Drum History getting schooled by these two.


Anonymous said...

There are two certainties when discussing Buddy Rich...

1. He's the greatest drummer of all time.

2. He's the biggest asshole of all time.


Dixon said...

I'd say that's pretty close to accurate. When you never had to work at it, which he didn't, you can become an asshole. His talent came naturally. He didn't practice, he didn't even have a set of drums in his house. He just got it. SOme of the biggest assholes in history are people with pure, natural talent.

There's a few clips of secret recordings that his band members made of rehearsals where Buddy goes off on a few of them. I don't hold much stock in Wikipedia most of the time, but aparently Seinfeld and Larry David were big fans of these recordings, and used a few quotes verbatim in a couple of Seinfeld episodes.

Anonymous said...


If your theory is correct, that would explain why Katie thinks I'm an asshole after sex.

That's pure, natural talent baby!