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Artist Profile: Buddy Rich

Published: Wed December 10, 2008  News Feed

buddy-rich-pic

Bernard “Buddy” Rich (September 30, 1917 – April 2, 1987) was an American jazz drummer, bandleader and former Marine. Rich was billed as “the world’s greatest drummer”   and was known for his virtuoso technique, power, and speed.

Rich’s technique has been one of the most standardized and coveted in drumming. His dexterity, speed and smooth execution are considered “holy grails” of drum technique. While Rich typically held his sticks using traditional grip, he was also a skilled “match grip” player, and was one of few drummers to master the one-handed roll on both hands. Some of his more spectacular moves are crossover riffs, where he would criss-cross his arms from one drum to another, sometimes over the arm, and even under the arm at great speed.

Here he is on the Sammy Davis Jr Show with Gene Krupa


He often used contrasting techniques to keep long drum solos from getting mundane. Aside from his energetic explosive displays, he would go into quieter passages. One passage he would use in most solos starts with a simple single-stroke roll on the snare picking up speed and power, then slowly moving his sticks closer to the rim as he gets quieter and then eventually playing on just the rim itself while still maintaining speed. Then he would reverse the effect and slowly move towards the center of the snare while increasing power.

Buddysoloing  featuring a fantastic sweater


Rich also demonstrated incredible skill at brush technique. On one album, Tatum Group Masterpieces No. 3 along with Lionel Hampton and Art Tatum, Rich plays brushes almost throughout with a mastery seldom achieved by any other drummer.

Another technique that few drummers have been able to perfect is the stick-trick where he does a fast roll just by slapping his two sticks together in a circular motion.

In 1942, Rich and drum teacher Henry Adler co-authored the instructional book Buddy Rich’s Modern Interpretation of Snare Drum Rudiments, regarded as one of the more popular snare-drum rudiment books written, mainly because of the Buddy Rich imprimatur.
Animal  Vs Buddy Rich

One of Adler’s former students introduced Adler to Rich. “The kid told me Buddy played better than [Gene] Krupa. 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 a 1985 interview, Adler clarified the extent of his teacher-student relationship to Rich and their collaboration on the instructional book:

“I had nothing to do with [the rumor that I taught Buddy how to play]. That was a result of Tommy Dorsey’s introduction to the Buddy Rich book,” Adler said. “I used to go around denying it, knowing that Buddy was a natural player. Sure, he studied with me, but he didn’t come to me to learn how to hold the drumsticks. I set out to teach Buddy to read. He’d take six lessons, go on the road for six weeks and come back. He didn’t have time to practice.”

“Tommy Dorsey wanted Buddy to write a book and he told him to get in touch with me. I did the book and Tommy wrote the foreword. Technically, I was Buddy’s teacher, but I came along after he had already acquired his technique.”

This is such a take , just watch his stick control

 
 
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