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  #1  
Old 02-06-2018, 01:57 AM
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Default Is Buddy Rich REALLY the greatest drummer of all time?

I've been playing drums since the early 80s, and that entire time it's been a "known fact" that Buddy Rich was the greatest drummer of all time. Ask any of the big name drummers who the greatest is, and everyone from Neil Peart to Weckl will all pretty much say the same thing.

But is he really the greatest of all time? Taken literally, that means he's the best drummer who has ever lived. But when I see the amazingly intricate polyrhythms and four-limb independence of drummers like Marco Minnemann and Thomas Lang, the extreme creativity of drummers like Gavin Harrison and Benny Greb, and the new crop of ultra-talented jazz virtuosos like Antonio Sanchez, Eric Harland and Keith Carlock, I can't help but think that drumming has really evolved to a whole new level since Buddy's days.

I've watched a lot of Buddy Rich videos, and while he was obviously great, I think his biggest strength was his showmanship. He had a very flashy way of playing that endeared him to audiences, yet to my ears he's a very busy player who relied mostly on his ultra-quick hands, and did little with his feet. Of course intricate double bass drumming didn't really begin to be a thing until years after his death, but to me that's kind of the point. Today's top drummers are doing things that Buddy and his contemporaries couldn't even conceive of back then. So yes, I think drumming has evolved, and perhaps Buddy isn't the greatest of all time.

Is he one of the greats? Of course. Is he the greatest of his time? While I prefer Elvin Jones and Joe Morello, I have no problem giving Buddy that title. I'd even be okay with calling him greatest big band drummer of all time (with apologies to Tommy Igoe). But greatest drummer of all time? I think that may have been the case at one point, but if you really think about it, probably no longer holds true.

A bit sacrilegious, I know.

Last edited by TK-421; 02-06-2018 at 02:29 AM.
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  #2  
Old 02-06-2018, 02:06 AM
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Default Re: Is Buddy Rich REALLY the greatest drummer of all time?

In the same way that Ali is "The Greatest" boxer of all time.

They managed to transcend their chosen fields and become so much more than just their vocation.

Did they have equals? Yeah. Have people come along since and raised the bar? Sure. But some people just seem to have that indefinable quality that puts them at the top of the heap.......in spite of the fact that there were others who could do it just as well.

Why some men shine so brightly over another of equal talent and ability, is God's own private mystery. But if you ever figure out the formula, be sure to come back and let me know.
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Old 02-06-2018, 02:15 AM
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Default Re: Is Buddy Rich REALLY the greatest drummer of all time?

Agree. He’s the greatest big band drummer, no question. Morello is the greatest small jazz combo player, and Papa Jo Jones gets props for innovating so much of the modern drumset setup.

As far as modern players go, I have my faves, like Johnny Rabb and Carter Beaufort, but it really is tough to compare the new to the old, simply because 4-limb independence and double bass work have really changed the game.

Buddy inspired a lot of people, though. He had that fire that very few have.
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Old 02-06-2018, 02:25 AM
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Default Re: Is Buddy Rich REALLY the greatest drummer of all time?

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Originally Posted by TK-421 View Post
..But when I see the amazingly intricate polyrhythms and four-limb independence of drummers like Marco Minnemann and Thomas Lang, the extreme creativity of drummers like Gavin Harrison and Benny Greb, and the new crop of ultra-talented jazz virtuosos like Antonio Sanchez, Eric Harland and Keith Carlock, I can't help but think that drumming has really evolved to a whole new level since Buddy's days..

The question is more if drumming would have evolved the same if he wouldnt have been there..And i think that would not have been the case..

Thats the reason why people like him belong to the best in history..

And besides that, i dare to doubt that those 'technique-guys' that you mention have the same level of hand-technique like Buddy Rich had..
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Old 02-06-2018, 02:51 AM
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Default Re: Is Buddy Rich REALLY the greatest drummer of all time?

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Originally Posted by TK-421 View Post

But is he really the greatest of all time?
Yes, he literally is.
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Old 02-06-2018, 02:57 AM
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Default Re: Is Buddy Rich REALLY the greatest drummer of all time?

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Originally Posted by oldskoolsoul View Post
The question is more if drumming would have evolved the same if he wouldnt have been there..And i think that would not have been the case..

Thats the reason why people like him belong to the best in history..

And besides that, i dare to doubt that those 'technique-guys' that you mention have the same level of hand-technique like Buddy Rich had..
You think Johnny Rabb couldn’t have beaten Buddy at hand technique? Or Mike Mangini?
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Old 02-06-2018, 03:06 AM
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Default Re: Is Buddy Rich REALLY the greatest drummer of all time?

My vote goes to Jeff Indyke.
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Old 02-06-2018, 03:18 AM
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Default Re: Is Buddy Rich REALLY the greatest drummer of all time?

I agree with Jeff Indyke
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  #9  
Old 02-06-2018, 03:18 AM
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Default Re: Is Buddy Rich REALLY the greatest drummer of all time?

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Originally Posted by Jeremy Bender View Post
My vote goes to Jeff Indyke.
I wish I could "Like" comments like on Facebook, because this one made me laugh!
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Old 02-06-2018, 03:28 AM
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Default Re: Is Buddy Rich REALLY the greatest drummer of all time?

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Originally Posted by Push pull stroke View Post
You think Johnny Rabb couldn’t have beaten Buddy at hand technique? Or Mike Mangini?
That's essentially the point I was trying to make. Drummers like that can match (if not exceed) Buddy's hand technique, yet are leaps and bounds better at foot technique. Combined, they're able to create new rhythmic possibilities that were unthinkable back then.

But more than just the insane polyrhythmic techniques some of today's top drummers possess, there's also a whole new level of creativity going on as well. Especially when it comes to drummers like Gavin Harrison and Benny Greb.

Of course, oldskoolsoul makes a valid point as well. Without Buddy, would there even be a Gavin or Benny? That's impossible to answer, but I can at least picture any of the current drummers I mentioned pulling off a decent Buddy Rich impression. I can't picture Buddy doing a decent Mangini impression.
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Old 02-06-2018, 03:40 AM
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Default Re: Is Buddy Rich REALLY the greatest drummer of all time?

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..You think Johnny Rabb couldn’t have beaten Buddy at hand technique? Or Mike Mangini?..

When you say 'beaten', that suggests that drumming is a competition, just like sports or something like that..And thats something that to me makes no sense..

That being said, ofcourse there are drummers at this moment who are maybe able to play faster or more complicated (if thats what you mean..), but thats not what i consider as having a higher [b]level[b/] of hand-technique..

And you also should consider that the reason why a lot of those guys are able to play like that, is because they studied Buddy Rich..

Which makes the circle round again..
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  #12  
Old 02-06-2018, 04:17 AM
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Default Re: Is Buddy Rich REALLY the greatest drummer of all time?

I think that drums are a really interesting instrument because it's relatively pretty young and new. Guitars and bass and violins and pianos and such have been around for hundreds of years, and throughout history there have been amazing musicians playing them. Drums aren't new obviously but the drum kit is only about 100 years old give or take?

What I'm getting to is that today in guys like Thomas pridgen and tony royster we are seeing what is actually possible on the drum kit. But buddy was doing stuff like that on an instrument which was pretty close to the same age as himself. He didn't have YouTube to learn good hand technique or see the new fills drummers are using up

Because of all that he kind of revolutionized and changed the drum kits role, and I don't even think he meant to. People saw how fast and perfect he played and then years later we have guys like Dennis chambers and Dave weckle etc
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  #13  
Old 02-06-2018, 04:22 AM
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Default Re: Is Buddy Rich REALLY the greatest drummer of all time?

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Originally Posted by drumming sort of person View Post
Yes, he literally is.
Yes, he literally is.
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  #14  
Old 02-06-2018, 05:08 AM
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Default Re: Is Buddy Rich REALLY the greatest drummer of all time?

Buddy was pretty good, but Ringo was better.
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  #15  
Old 02-06-2018, 06:12 AM
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Default Re: Is Buddy Rich REALLY the greatest drummer of all time?

I believe drum set playing has NOT evolved. You also need to remember guys like Alan Dawson. He could could do more technical things than Buddy, but didn't have the insane energy that Buddy had. Also I think Buddy could just look or listen to what someone does on a drum set (no matter how technical)and play it back immediately, but it will be way cleaner! Lol!

Look at all the guys that did a drum battle with him. It was one sided every time.

The crazy poly coordination thing was invented by those guys back then, and you can see that Buddy learned it from other drummers through his life and made it his own thing.

There's a ton of drummers I like just as much as Buddy for different reasons. Buddy just had that natural ability to do things without practice. He could just look, listen, and play. No one else has been able to do that or we would have heard about that person by now. I know I have to work a lot harder than a lot of the very talented drummers of today and can't imagine being able to step into a big band drummers shoes from back in the 40's-60's.

The top drummers of these days watch too much internet and are too perfect sounding in my opinion. Ha ha.. There's something missing these days that those guys had but I don't know what the word for it is. I don't know how to explain it. Does anyone else have the same feeling?
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Old 02-06-2018, 06:48 AM
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Default Re: Is Buddy Rich REALLY the greatest drummer of all time?

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Originally Posted by Push pull stroke View Post
Buddy inspired a lot of people, though. He had that fire that very few have.
I think that's why most drummers consider Buddy to be the greatest.
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  #17  
Old 02-06-2018, 06:56 AM
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Default Re: Is Buddy Rich REALLY the greatest drummer of all time?

People tend to forget that drums are a musical instrument. Playing for the song is a lot different than seeing how many notes you can play in under a minute. Any time I see one of these speed racers I think of what Buddy himself said about Chick Webb:" CH-the daddy of 'em all." They had lots of great drummers who were great musicians like Gene Krupa, Louis Bellson, Jo Jones. The list goes on forever. Another thing that Buddy said was: "You either swing a band or don't swing a band." Too much emphasis is being put on how fast you can play, not how musical. Another thing is that the equipment of today is miles ahead of what those folks had to deal with. Calf heads are great until the room starts to heat up and the air in the club gets more humid. I think back on how rickety the old bass drum pedals were and those damn railette tom holders! Listen to Joe Morello on "Take Five" if you want to hear pure technique being applied in a musical manner. He uses silence as a note. That's real drumming! Buddy was a great, natural drummer but he wasn't the best. No one was or is the best. We have really great drummers but they're all great in their own, unique way.
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Old 02-06-2018, 08:03 AM
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Default Re: Is Buddy Rich REALLY the greatest drummer of all time?

I don't know if I would ever say "he wasn't the greatest". I don't know enough to know if that were true. You have to consider the whole package: the man was a dancer, an actor, a comedian, a drummer, a band leader, a celebrity - from the era that you had to be the entire package. Not just good hands and good feet - which is why as incredible as today's drummers are, I'm not sure if they have everything to be a bonafide star. And that's what Buddy was.

Also, you have to consider how musicians carried themselves in that era too. Or maybe more specifically, all jazz musicians. It's a scary thing to see a number top jazz players walk on stage together and just start creating stuff out of thin air. I play in cover bands, and those guys still want to rehearse to make sure they have the material down. It takes a good amount of bravado to just sit down with musicians and do stuff on the spot like that. This kind of behavior really enhances the "greatness" factor to people who can't relate to booking a gig and just showing up the day of the gig.

So I would say, yeah, he's one of the greatest that ever lived, even if his hands and feet didn't move at mind-bending rates like they do today.
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Old 02-06-2018, 09:09 AM
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Default Re: Is Buddy Rich REALLY the greatest drummer of all time?

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Originally Posted by markdrum View Post
Buddy was a great, natural drummer but he wasn't the best. No one was or is the best. We have really great drummers but they're all great in their own, unique way.
I wholeheartedly agree with this.

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So I would say, yeah, he's one of the greatest that ever lived, even if his hands and feet didn't move at mind-bending rates like they do today.
Also in agreement. I don't dispute at all that Buddy was one of the greats. Of course he was, there's absolutely no denying that. And perhaps he did more to put drums in the spotlight than anyone else. Of course, the same may also be said about Ringo. Regardless, I think the point of my original post got lost: that calling someone--anyone--the greatest of all time is a bit of a misnomer. They may be head and shoulders above everyone else during their prime, but eventually others will catch up and even surpass the greats. This doesn't diminish our past heroes, it just means that labeling them as the greatest who ever lived can be a little misleading.

And I'm not just talking about drumming, as this also applies to sports, or anything else for that matter.
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Old 02-06-2018, 09:30 AM
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Default Re: Is Buddy Rich REALLY the greatest drummer of all time?

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Originally Posted by TK-421 View Post
I wholeheartedly agree with this.



".....it just means that labeling them as the greatest who ever lived can be a little misleading.
I must ask the question though, misleading from what? This is really just a bit of hero-worship, and there's nothing wrong with that. It's like politics, or religion, you either accept it or don't. But if you don't think so, and somebody else does, are you saying one of them is wrong? In instances like this, we can all be right, because it certainly doesn't change anything by believing one way or the other.
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Old 02-06-2018, 10:19 AM
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Default Re: Is Buddy Rich REALLY the greatest drummer of all time?

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Originally Posted by Bo Eder View Post
his hands didn't move at mind-bending rates like they do today.
Dave Weckl wouldn't agree with you..
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Old 02-06-2018, 10:32 AM
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Default Re: Is Buddy Rich REALLY the greatest drummer of all time?

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Originally Posted by Jeremy Bender View Post
My vote goes to Jeff Indyke.
Quote:
Originally Posted by GruntersDad View Post
I agree with Jeff Indyke

Yes Indyke, one of the great American originals.






Quote:
Originally Posted by markdrum View Post
People tend to forget that drums are a musical instrument. Playing for the song is a lot different than seeing how many notes you can play in under a minute. Any time I see one of these speed racers I think of what Buddy himself said about Chick Webb:" CH-the daddy of 'em all." They had lots of great drummers who were great musicians like Gene Krupa, Louis Bellson, Jo Jones. The list goes on forever. Another thing that Buddy said was: "You either swing a band or don't swing a band." Too much emphasis is being put on how fast you can play, not how musical. Another thing is that the equipment of today is miles ahead of what those folks had to deal with. Calf heads are great until the room starts to heat up and the air in the club gets more humid. I think back on how rickety the old bass drum pedals were and those damn railette tom holders! Listen to Joe Morello on "Take Five" if you want to hear pure technique being applied in a musical manner. He uses silence as a note. That's real drumming! Buddy was a great, natural drummer but he wasn't the best. No one was or is the best. We have really great drummers but they're all great in their own, unique way.

This ^




The OP asks

Quote:
But is he really the greatest of all time? Taken literally, that means he's the best drummer who has ever lived. But when I see the amazingly intricate polyrhythms and four-limb independence of drummers like Marco Minnemann and Thomas Lang, the extreme creativity of drummers like Gavin Harrison and Benny Greb, and the new crop of ultra-talented jazz virtuosos like Antonio Sanchez, Eric Harland and Keith Carlock, I can't help but think that drumming has really evolved to a whole new level since Buddy's days.

Any of the drummers mentioned above transported back in Buddy's prime time, playing with the greats he did, on his level of gear... would fall on their faces.

They even admit it, they admit BR is THE MAN! They're not being modest.


The difference is, a lot of todays so called 'greats' have spent thousands of hours not playing in the worlds greatest bands executing a myriad of styles (each night) to the new music of the time, what these modern day greats have spent thousands of hours doing (someone in another topic thread used the term 'masturbating' a drum kit) is regurgitate a bunch of random chops real fast, randomly arranged. The musicality between BR and todays so called greats is literally at right angles. Music vs exercise routines.


No one to this day is at BR's level of playing the level of music he played, that's obvious. Maybe some today could rehearse a chart of that music, but to go out night after night, own the band and sound as good as BR doing it.... there's nobody who could sound as good. BR was hungry to the end, he always played in the red, and no matter what he played everyone knew he owned it, in a suit and tie most of the time.
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Old 02-06-2018, 11:11 AM
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Default Re: Is Buddy Rich REALLY the greatest drummer of all time?

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Originally Posted by Push pull stroke View Post
You think Johnny Rabb couldn’t have beaten Buddy at hand technique? Or Mike Mangini?
Johnny Rabb and Mike Mangini are very fast but my god their playing is boring. There's no feel or taste. More to drumming than speed.

That's why Buddy was amazing, he did speed with feel and taste and drove a band with it hard. Buddy was the complete package in terms of sound too and on a 5 piece to boot.
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Old 02-06-2018, 12:06 PM
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Default Re: Is Buddy Rich REALLY the greatest drummer of all time?

One thing can be said:

Most of the greatest drummers we have had and have nowadays are inspired by Buddy Rich.

I think that would explain it all. ;)
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Old 02-06-2018, 12:19 PM
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Default Re: Is Buddy Rich REALLY the greatest drummer of all time?

With art, you can't win.

There is no "greatest drummer of all time."

I have my favorites, just like you have yours.
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Old 02-06-2018, 01:39 PM
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Default Re: Is Buddy Rich REALLY the greatest drummer of all time?

^^^^^^ This! Peace and goodwill.
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Old 02-06-2018, 02:02 PM
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Default Re: Is Buddy Rich REALLY the greatest drummer of all time?

It's like asking who is the "best artist", "best scientist", 'best singer", best musician, etc. It depends on when you ask. It's an evolving scene with evolving players. In 1900 there was some 1-2 billion people on earth, now over 7 billion-lot more people to pick from. So at one point people would say "Chick Webb" or "Gene Krupa"-mainly because of name recognition. The question gets more complicated with more people and a raising bar of excellence. You have to admit Buddy Rich has that name recognition that made him a great emissary for drums-but even he acknowledged all the players that influenced him ( Gene Krupa, Jo Jones, Chick Webb, Ray McKinley, Ray Bauduc and Sid Catlett ) during his era of jazz and big band music. Now there is even a greater pool of great drummers to choose from, and sometimes it's just a great performance.
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Old 02-06-2018, 02:32 PM
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Default Re: Is Buddy Rich REALLY the greatest drummer of all time?

I challenge anyone here to imitate Buddy's playing.

Get with a big band and try to sound like Buddy. Have audience members close their eyes and see if they can imagine Buddy being behind the set.

I guarantee nobody can do it.

Jojo Mayer tried to do a tribute in this way. He did OK, but he just couldn't capture Buddy's musicianship, especially during his solo.

Buddy was one of the fastest, arguably the cleanest, arguably the most musical, and certainly had the most stage presence of any drummer that's ever lived!

Buddy is the greatest.
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Old 02-06-2018, 04:20 PM
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Default Re: Is Buddy Rich REALLY the greatest drummer of all time?

Not really related to the question about the greatest drummer, but it does get me thinking about something I've been contemplating lately.

There aren't many physical feats that aren't surpassed over time. Athletes get faster and stronger. One of the few things in drumming that I feel has not really been done better would be Buddy's single-stroke roll. Another is Tony's ride cymbal playing, those crazy five-note groupings at blazing tempos. I guess it's not so shocking when you think about the relatively low demand for those particular skills in modern music. But still, they have stood the test of time.

For Buddy, the specific thing I'm amazed by is that single-stroke roll thing he did, where he starts slow and builds it up, moves it to the rim of the snare and then back, from pianissimo to forte. I don't think anyone has the technique to do that like him, even today. Play faster? Sure. But the power, control and speed combined needed to pull that off so cleanly across tempos and dynamics is what sets Buddy apart. I've watched Mangini, Jojo and others try it and I don't think they come all that close. The speed is there, but the gradual build-up, the power to go from a whisper to a roar, their techniques don't seem to quite work the same way. There are players who can play more notes in a minute, but the complete command of it is something I don't think has been done better in all the decades since.

Again, nothing to do with the topic of who the greatest drummer is. Just saying.
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Old 02-06-2018, 04:20 PM
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Default Re: Is Buddy Rich REALLY the greatest drummer of all time?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Les Ismore View Post
BR was hungry to the end, he always played in the red, and no matter what he played everyone knew he owned it, in a suit and tie most of the time.
It's this hunger that many of today are lacking. Sure, they go through the motions well and have more chops than a butcher shop, but if that hunger and absolute joy of playing isn't shown on stage, then you've still got work to do.
This IMO is what sets Buddy apart from many. He inspires others to be not only a good player, but a showman too.
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  #31  
Old 02-06-2018, 04:55 PM
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Default Re: Is Buddy Rich REALLY the greatest drummer of all time?

This argument has already been settled. Buddy Rich is the 15th best drummer of all time.
Source: Rolling Stone 100 Greatest Drummers of All Time, May 2016.
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  #32  
Old 02-06-2018, 05:02 PM
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Default Re: Is Buddy Rich REALLY the greatest drummer of all time?

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Originally Posted by Merlin5 View Post
Dave Weckl wouldn't agree with you..
I was giving a slight nod to the op about the youngin’s moving faster. Buddy’s facility is mind bending to me. When I look st the context of the music, you didn’t need to be “faster” than that. I’ve noticed in the metal drumming world, as the drums got faster, the music tempo gets slower, so they can fit in more notes. In jazz, the whole band plays faster.
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Old 02-06-2018, 05:05 PM
J-Boogie J-Boogie is offline
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Default Re: Is Buddy Rich REALLY the greatest drummer of all time?

Very interesting 8mile, good points. Dont know why but reading this thread a quote came to mind, 'if you cant do it better, do it faster." I dont subscribe to "greatests" but Buddy would sure be at the top of my list of greats.
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Old 02-06-2018, 05:54 PM
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wildbill wildbill is offline
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Default Re: Is Buddy Rich REALLY the greatest drummer of all time?

I think he (and Gene Krupa) were the best drummers of their time.

In their time, most everything revolved around hand work.

Today, there's much more balance between hand and foot work.

But yes - as others have alluded to - without specific objective parameters
and specifications, there is no 'best'.
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Old 02-06-2018, 05:55 PM
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Peppermint_Sanders Peppermint_Sanders is offline
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Default Re: Is Buddy Rich REALLY the greatest drummer of all time?

It's art, and it's subjective. There is no way to prove, even if he was still living, if Buddy was better than (insert drummer) is or was. His body of work is amazing, but if you grew up having never seen/heard him play (live or recorded) then what frame of reference are you drawing from? This is a ridiculous argument, and one that can't be proven wrong or right...not even in a Rolling Stone article.
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Old 02-06-2018, 06:28 PM
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Polska Polska is offline
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Default Re: Is Buddy Rich REALLY the greatest drummer of all time?

"Greatest" or "Top 5, 10, 25 etc" are absolutely ridiculous and impossible to measure. Change it to "favorite" and you have a discussion.

Sure, Peart can't swing the Buddy Rich Big Band - big deal. Rich absolutely wouldn't have been able to sit in on Tom Sawyer. Who cares??

There's just no point to these types of comparisons. Rich, Williams, Ringo, Bonham influenced hundreds of young kids to play. Now there are dozens of players influencing the next generation. Maybe not with the same impact, but it's not the same world it was.

Recognize and respect who the good players were and leave it at that. And by "good" I mean who contributed as a drummer to the band(s) they are/were in and left an impression on anyone.
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Old 02-06-2018, 07:08 PM
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Dr_Watso Dr_Watso is offline
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Default Re: Is Buddy Rich REALLY the greatest drummer of all time?

Meg white puts all these idiots to shame, anyway.
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Old 02-06-2018, 07:15 PM
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TheElectricCompany TheElectricCompany is offline
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Default Re: Is Buddy Rich REALLY the greatest drummer of all time?

Buddy Rich didn't need to play in two different time signatures across four limbs, he needed to be the engine of the music. He needed people to dance, to feel something. His musicianship reached people all around the world- not just other drummers- and he made his chops, his ooh-and-aw moments, fit into that musicianship. He didn't need people to decode his playing because it was an extension of the music. It was that simple, but it took immense talent. He was one of very few drummers in history who made mainstream music unique because of the drummer, and he did it in every group he played with.

Drumming doesn't exist in a vacuum. Deciding that today's musical gymnastics surpass what people did fifty years ago is a disservice to what people of that day accomplished. Today's top-level technical players are still influenced by Buddy, even if their playing doesn't reflect it, but just because they're pushing the boundaries in areas that weren't yet thought of during Buddy's time doesn't mean they've surpassed him. Not in the slightest.
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Old 02-06-2018, 07:57 PM
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Default Re: Is Buddy Rich REALLY the greatest drummer of all time?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Peppermint_Sanders View Post
It's art, and it's subjective. There is no way to prove, even if he was still living, if Buddy was better than (insert drummer) is or was. His body of work is amazing, but if you grew up having never seen/heard him play (live or recorded) then what frame of reference are you drawing from? This is a ridiculous argument, and one that can't be proven wrong or right...not even in a Rolling Stone article.
...and does it really matter??? Actually he was the 2nd best drummer. They are still looking for the best!!!!
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Old 02-06-2018, 08:00 PM
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philrudd philrudd is offline
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Default Re: Is Buddy Rich REALLY the greatest drummer of all time?

Well, he's no Travis Barker. I don't know if Buddy had even ONE tattoo.
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