Re: The Grand Master Buddy Rich
Most of us like to get along with our friends, and with our fellow musicians. That's admirable, and the world certainly could use more tolerance and diversity.
Many organizations, including bands, have allowed the quality of their product to suffer due to "not wanting to be rude", or "not wanting to offend anyone", or because "the trumpet player is a good friend", or whatever.
Buddy placed the quality of his product (both his personal playing, and his band's) first, and accepted nothing less than everyone's best effort. If their best effort wasn't good enough, in his opinion, then he would first try and get them some help, and if that didn't work, he would replace them. Most of us aren't that confrontational, and so we perceive these people as "jerks", or whatever other term you want to use.
But ask anyone who worked with Buddy successfully over a long period of time what kind of man he was, and they will praise him highly for his dedication to excellence. I am an audience member who sat in front of Buddy's bands on many occasions, thrilled with what I heard, and also became casual friends with several of his players. They reinforce these ideas. Buddy did this in the face of tough financial times, resistance from the music world in general, and health problems (back problems and heart trouble) that would have most of lying at home in bed.
Everyone in a successful and/or authoritative position will always be criticized as being a "tyrant". It's universal, and it's even what kids say about their own parents, when they're disciplined. See the many articles around the net by people like Steve Marcus, who worked with Buddy for over 10 years, and you'll find that these great musicians didn't think Buddy was a "jerk". They loved and respected him.
The music that Buddy and his bands left us is remarkable, and to my ears, the standard is so high that few have even come close since his passing. I respect and love the guy, as much as any fan can, and miss the spirit he provided greatly.
How many of us are strong enough to propel that kind of a band for that length of time? (even disregarding Buddy's personal talent) If such people existed today, we'd all be talking about them, instead of Buddy.