The curious case of Thomas Pridgen

The music business is strange, i know. Most of the times it's just a matter of being in the right place at the right time, but when musicians of the caliber of Thomas Pridgen are forced to play with shitty bands to make a living it's pretty sad. He can play every kind of musical genre, i don't know why he's like dead for "jazz world"...a genre where he has nothing to envy to the major drummers in the game. Maybe Pridgen is an amazing drummer but is difficult to get along with him as a person? I don't know him personally, but from what i've seen over the years pretty much everybody loves him....so why he has been marginalized from the artists and the music that matters?
What do you think about it?
 

gdmoore28

Gold Member
Pridgen is a killer drummer, but I'm unaware of any of the observations you've made concerning his being blacklisted by the musical community. Could you give some specifics that will illustrate your case?

GeeDeeEmm
 

Eggman

Member
I haven't followed what Pridgen is up to lately, but I know there was some interpersonal drama when he was in The Mars Volta which eventually lead to his dismissal. According to Juan (TMV bass player), Pridgen just wasn't a mature/professional guy. Apparently there was one incident where Pridgen got drunk after a show and peed all over the tour bus. Pridgen has also badmouthed Cedric (TMV vocalist) to the press and on social media since being kicked out of the band. Plus, there's this: https://np.reddit.com/r/drums/comments/4r7fp1/my_bad_experience_with_thomas_pridgen/

Don't get me wrong, he's an amazing drummer, and some of these anecdotal stories may be exaggerated. But I think most pro-level bands would much rather have a merely "pretty good" drummer who has a pro attitude & work ethic vs an amazing drummer who is difficult to get along with and not always reliable.
 
I haven't followed what Pridgen is up to lately, but I know there was some interpersonal drama when he was in The Mars Volta which eventually lead to his dismissal. According to Juan (TMV bass player), Pridgen just wasn't a mature/professional guy. Apparently there was one incident where Pridgen got drunk after a show and peed all over the tour bus. Pridgen has also badmouthed Cedric (TMV vocalist) to the press and on social media since being kicked out of the band. Plus, there's this: https://np.reddit.com/r/drums/comments/4r7fp1/my_bad_experience_with_thomas_pridgen/

Don't get me wrong, he's an amazing drummer, and some of these anecdotal stories may be exaggerated. But I think most pro-level bands would much rather have a merely "pretty good" drummer who has a pro attitude & work ethic vs an amazing drummer who is difficult to get along with and not always reliable.
He had problems with Cedric or Omar in The Mars Volta, i know nothing about the stories you mentioned....Cedric has always been high as a kite for the majority of the early TMV shows (and even most of the shows where Pridgen was their drummer), i don't think a single band member was behaving professionally ater the shows....even the hardcore TMV fans knows how difficult was being in the band, and they changed a lot of drummers because Omar was a dictator in studio and Cedric a dickhead in general.

My post wasn't about the TMV era though :))
 
Pridgen is a killer drummer, but I'm unaware of any of the observations you've made concerning his being blacklisted by the musical community. Could you give some specifics that will illustrate your case?

GeeDeeEmm
Uhm...to make a living he's playing with a latin band (Residente) and nobody "relevant" in the jazz/funk/soul/r&b scene has hired him in YEARS...in a community where drummers rotate frequently, it's odd for a drummer of his level to be out of their radar for so long.
 

J-Boogie

Gold Member
I haven't followed what Pridgen is up to lately, but I know there was some interpersonal drama when he was in The Mars Volta which eventually lead to his dismissal. According to Juan (TMV bass player), Pridgen just wasn't a mature/professional guy. Apparently there was one incident where Pridgen got drunk after a show and peed all over the tour bus. Pridgen has also badmouthed Cedric (TMV vocalist) to the press and on social media since being kicked out of the band. Plus, there's this: https://np.reddit.com/r/drums/comments/4r7fp1/my_bad_experience_with_thomas_pridgen/

Don't get me wrong, he's an amazing drummer, and some of these anecdotal stories may be exaggerated. But I think most pro-level bands would much rather have a merely "pretty good" drummer who has a pro attitude & work ethic vs an amazing drummer who is difficult to get along with and not always reliable.
I think Eggman might have nailed it here, based on what Ive seen and read.
 

Eggman

Member
He had problems with Cedric or Omar in The Mars Volta, i know nothing about the stories you mentioned....Cedric has always been high as a kite for the majority of the early TMV shows (and even most of the shows where Pridgen was their drummer), i don't think a single band member was behaving professionally ater the shows....even the hardcore TMV fans knows how difficult was being in the band, and they changed a lot of drummers because Omar was a dictator in studio and Cedric a dickhead in general.

My post wasn't about the TMV era though :))
I hear you. I don't think it's any secret that Omar & Cedric were not easy to work under. Pridgen was also way younger than any of the other guys in the band, so I cut him some slack for maybe acting a bit less mature back then.

If you're interested in hearing more, I highly recommend listening to Dean Delray's Let There Be Talk podcast. He interviews Juan, Cedric (twice), Jon, and Omar at length. I think Juan's interview is where I heard most of the Pridgen stories, but I really enjoyed Jon and Cedric's interviews. They both talk very candidly about the Mars Volta days and how things might have worked out differently if they were all more open and communicative with each other.
 

Richard.Awesome

Senior Member
Could some of the blame lie on his lack of solid management on his end? I don't know why he's not out there in higher profile gigs, but he may be making a comfortable living teaching?

Again, I don't know - but as talented as he is it would seem that there's something that are keeping people away.
 

BertTheDrummer

Gold Member
Is he forced to go with what you call lesser groups? or is he choosing to go with those groups?

I really haven't followed his work post TMV or read any interviews or anything. So I don't really know. I wouldn't doubt it if he went with groups where he feels like he can exert more creative control, than being told what to do. Sometimes that might mean he doesn't end up with a top notch band where everything is controlled by a certain member or producer or whatever.
 

opentune

Platinum Member
I don't follow him in detail but always thought he made a living mostly as a 'clinician', in a vein to Benny Greb or Jojo Mayer. Also, not everybody is out to work with majors and headliners.
 
Is he forced to go with what you call lesser groups? or is he choosing to go with those groups?
I don't know him personally, but i guess he choosing to go with lesser groups for a lack of better offers.

I wouldn't doubt it if he went with groups where he feels like he can exert more creative control, than being told what to do. Sometimes that might mean he doesn't end up with a top notch band where everything is controlled by a certain member or producer or whatever.
This could be the reason, but i doubt the others drummers and musicians are controlled or treated like puppets by certain band leaders or producers.
He has enough connections in the music industry to be able to work again with top notch musicians, there must be something more than just bad reputation....because with his skills he could play with anyone from Herbie Hancock to Chick Corea, Robert Glasper to Chris Potter ecc.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
The music business... to make a living... "jazz world"...
These words are key. Once you leave the rehearsal room, music is a business. Making money at it depends on who will pay to hear that music, not necessarily how talented the players are. Jazz is a perfect example of a genre where it's extremely difficult to make a living*, because the paying audience just isn't there in big enough numbers (except for a handful of artists.)

Whether the comments about Thomas are true or not, I don't know. I met Thomas when he was maybe 12, his mom took him around the NAMM show and they were both very nice. I think he was kind of an Al fan, so he knew my name. I see him walk by at NAMM now and then and he still comes over and says hi and has been nice, no weirdness or attitude. Maybe he just respects his elders! :O

Bermuda

* Obviously there was a time when jazz was more mainstream, and embraced by larger audiences. In the scheme of things, the appreciation for the genre has shrunk over the last 40+ years, while other genres have expanded, and new ones have emerged (hip-hop, rap, techno, dance-wave, etc.)
 

BertTheDrummer

Gold Member
These words are key. Once you leave the rehearsal room, music is a business. Making money at it depends on who will pay to hear that music, not necessarily how talented the players are. Jazz is a perfect example of a genre where it's extremely difficult to make a living*, because the paying audience just isn't there in big enough numbers (except for a handful of artists.)

Whether the comments about Thomas are true or not, I don't know. I met Thomas when he was maybe 12, his mom took him around the NAMM show and they were both very nice. I think he was kind of an Al fan, so he knew my name. I see him walk by at NAMM now and then and he still comes over and says hi and has been nice, no weirdness or attitude. Maybe he just respects his elders! :O

Bermuda

* Obviously there was a time when jazz was more mainstream, and embraced by larger audiences. In the scheme of things, the appreciation for the genre has shrunk over the last 40+ years, while other genres have expanded, and new ones have emerged (hip-hop, rap, techno, dance-wave, etc.)
Outside of the era where Jazz was the pop music of the day. Has any jazz performer outside of probably the top .01% of players made a living just playing jazz? I was just wondering, most jazz guys I know make their living teaching more so than actually playing jazz. That being said, they made their name from their playing, and the name is what allows them to make money teaching, so I guess it is all part of the whole business. I was thinking the amount of guys who actually just make their money just playing is probably pretty low.
 

T.L.

Senior Member
I know nothing of Pridgen's attitude, but on the issue of income and jazz musicians, these days there are very few (Harry Connick, Wynton, etc.) that can make a good living playing "jazz." Most world-class players (in Canada) I know of who don't play pop music on the side (to make cash) play jazz in the evenings a few nights a week if lucky, but make most of their income through their spouse or by teaching private lessons and/or at a college or university.


Making a good living in music is a tough go these days, and in a genre with such a small audience like jazz it's even tougher.
 
Making a good living in music is a tough go these days, and in a genre with such a small audience like jazz it's even tougher.
I know exactly the fees of some jazz artists, and i can tell you for example that artists like Robert Glasper, Christian Scott, Ambrose Akinmusire (just to name the first 3 that come to my mind) makes good money.
Glasper for a gig with his band ask something like 15k, while Christian Scott and Ambrose 5k...if they don't live in expensive penthouses over central park to me they're living good
 

oldskoolsoul

Silver Member
..Glasper for a gig with his band ask something like 15k..

Not sure if they also exist in the US, but in my country we have such popular 'artists' who play live with only a tape for like 30 minutes and thats exactly the amount that some of them get..Paid cash and sometimes they have 3 of such 'shows' on an evening and that 3 times a week..

The only costs they have on such an evening are the driver of the car, who in most cases is also the tech/sound guy, and the fuel..

And then realise that Robert Glasper can be considered a top-class act, but i think an avarage jazz band actually almost plays for free and that those bandmembers are very happy when they leave the place with $50-100 each..

Last year i saw Omar Hakim with his band in a club and the audience was literally not even 80 people..
 
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