Next to drumming baseball is one of
my favorite subjects. Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Hank Aaron, Ty
Cobb were the greatest of all time. The one player that stands out
among the best is Babe Ruth. I read that there will never be another
Babe Ruth, because he was the greatest. That's what I think Buddy
Rich is to the drumming world. Buddy is the Babe Ruth of drumming.
There are many technical drummers
with great touch and feel, but Buddy had a touch that we may never
witness again. The drums were a part of him. He could control a set
of drums to do things so precisely it was unbelievable. There's a
section of my site in “Influences” about Buddy that states I first
saw him in 1974. That was wrong, it was in the 60’s. I saw him often
in clubs and music stores and he was always a gentleman. I never
missed a concert he played in my area. When it was over I would walk
out of the theater talking to myself. I would say “HOW THE HELL DID
HE DO THAT?” Buddy had all the skills a drummer would want. It was
like the drums were made just for him. He's the only musician that
could say he's going to “cut” someone and go up there and do it. Get
him mad and watch out! He must have learned a lot from the pit
drummers that he was performing with when he was a kid.
There are tapes of Buddy
circulating around the Internet using choice words with one of his
band members. People should realize that Buddy just wanted his band
to perform 100% every night. I doubt he ever meant what he said.
This was Buddy's way of making sure the band performed their best.
It reminds me of another sports great, Knute Rockne, firing up his
men at half time. Most would be better musicians after playing for
Buddy. Some days it's harder to get things swinging then other days.
Buddy did not tolerate it.
It's amazing how Buddy, who was in
his 60's, could play like he was in his 30’s. Jim Chapin wrote
“Buddy played better 5 months before he died then he ever did.” He
was never satisfied with his playing and always wanted to improve.
He was just as critical and hard on himself as he was with his
musicians. All that screaming came from the heart. I don't believe
that a lot of the things he said on that tape he really meant.
I watched a lot of TV in the 70’s
and recorded several hours of Buddy on a Betamax video recorder.
Buddy made several appearances on The Tonight Show, Merv Griffin
with Mel Torme, and Regis Philbin. The picture isn't that good but I
still watch them and sometimes a tear comes to my eye thinking of
how great this man was.
Like Gene Krupa said “Buddy Rich
is the greatest drummer that ever drew breath. I'm sure every
drummer misses him very much.”
by Art Verdi