Originally Posted by onemat
Matt replies: I have to preface what I'm about to write with this: I loved Buddy Rich. Loved his playing, his technique, loved many or his records. In my humble opinion, Buddy had issues in the people skills department. He could be very negative one minute and warm and funny the next. How he acted, what he said was inconsistent. I've read accounts of him being a sweet guy who would do anything for his pals, musicians, and especially children. And then there was the other side of Buddy's personality, the ego driven, perfectionist side. He knew he was great and he often would let people know he was the best. When asked about Bonzo, his answer came directly from his own ego. That's a shame when any musician slams another. Fortunately, the comment did not stop John Bonham from reaching the stratosphere of rock drumming. When asked about Danny Seraphine he was very positive. Perhaps Buddy picked up on the jazz chops Danny had and did not relate to Bonzo's drumming. Buddy's temper is well documented as well. I'm not a doctor but I know chemical inbalance when I see it, and in my opinion Buddy could have used the happy pills. My father was very much like him, and I've had the same problem. Medication works great. So being both a major fan of Bonzo and of Buddy, I'll take Buddy's comments with a grain of the old salt.
This is a good post, and I agree with every bit of it.
I saw both sides of him and still loved the guy. When I was young, he treated me great. Rich supposedly hired Matt Smith's dad three times and fired him twice. Tom once said that had he on one ocassion moved an inch to the left, the guy behind him would have been fired instead. Still, he still evaluates Rich as one would perceive a god. In other words, he disliked the guy but deferrred to the talent. I do not believe that is so hard to understand.
I see a lot of commentary about the negative side of Rich's personality, as if being nice to people shares an interrelationship with talent. We must first understand Rich's own upbringing. He was required to submit product when most of us are still in diapers. He learned his initial lessons from notorious taskmasters like Tommy Dorsey and Artie Shaw...men who never asked nor gave any quarter. Then he watched first hand how disciplinary lapses wiped out performing colleagues and friends like Charlie Parker, Charlie Ventura and Art Pepper. In the case of Ventura, he tried to help him several times, only to have Charlie acuse him of stealing his band, when nothing could have been farther from the truth.
Sure he was a jerk. But he grew up in an era when anything less than your best was not enough. I am certain he would be appalled by this recently evolved incessant need to stroke fellow musicians whether they deserve it or not. Of course he went too far, and Matt is right. Prozac would have helped, but it also would have taken some edge off his playing. I applaud the perfectionist tendencies, although I can never condone the approach. Still, these guys would take the abuse and keep coming back for more. That alone speaks volumes.