Remembering Buddy Rich
You could say that Buddy Rich marched to his own beat. Considered by many to be "the world's greatest drummer"(as he was often billed), the big band and jazz legend had no formal instruction, claimed he never practiced and could barely (if at all) read music. Rich was a drumming wonder, who continues to influence percussionists long after his death on this day in 1987.
He was born Bernard Rich to a pair of vaudevillians, Robert and Bess, in Brooklyn in 1917. His rhythmic talents were noticeable as soon as he turned 1 – according to his father, Buddy could keep perfect time with a pair of spoons. By the time he was 18 months old, the little drummer boy was performing on vaudeville stages as "Traps the Drum Wonder." By age 11, he was serving as a bandleader.
At a young age, Rich began to make quite a name for himself in the music world. His natural talent made a huge impression on drum teacher Henry Adler, after one of Adler's students introduced them.
"The kid told me Buddy played better than [Gene] Krupa," Adler remembered later, in an interview for Modern Drummer. "Buddy was only in his teens at the time and his friend was my first pupil. Buddy played and I watched his hands. Well, he knocked me right out. He did everything I wanted to do, and he did it with such ease. When I met his folks, I asked them who his teacher was. 'He never studied,' they told me. That made me feel very good. I realized that it was something physical, not only mental, that you had to have."
In his late teens, he got into playing in jazz bands. And from there, Buddy embarked on a streak of collaborations that would include some of the most famous names in jazz and pop music. Among those he played with: Artie Shaw, Bunny Berigan, Vic Shoen Orchestra, the Andrews Sisters and Tommy Dorsey. While playing with Dorsey's orchestra, Buddy befriended Frank Sinatra, who was backed by the group. more on this story
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