Is Buddy Rich REALLY the greatest drummer of all time?

Texan

Member
Evidently, many of those who do not believe BR is the greatest drummer of all time don't have the proper perspective. Most of those who have commented above who don't believe BR is the greatest have only seen YouTube videos of him in his 70s when he was just a shadow of himself compared to his prime. I suggest that these people get the album "Swingin' New Big Band" that was recorded live when Rich was 50 years old and still in his prime. Those who commented that he didn't have foot work like the chops masters of today need only listen to "West Side Story Medley" where they will hear polyrhythms and time signature changes. Also, there is a YouTube recording made in the 40s in which Rich comes out on stage where there were only two bass drums set up. He proceeds to play double bass patterns to show that the whole Louis Bellson double bass drum thing was no big deal.

BR had an idetic memory and when his new big band was rehearsing, a drummer was brought in to play the songs using the charts on the initial play through, after which Rich would have the whole song down.

Buddy Rich could play 600 strokes per minute continuously with his left hand--cleanly.

The speed drummers of today playing very fast compared to how Rich played in the context of a song or a solo is like comparing the kids who can do all kinds of dazzling dunks to Michael Jordan dunking against a couple of 6'11" NBA players during an NBA game.

Anyone who knows anything about jazz knows that it is significantly more complex than rock--even progressive rock (example Take Five by Dave Brubeck Quartet). Rich could play anything in front of him of any genre.

There are those who maintain that John Bonham is the greatest rock drummer. Guess who John Bonham thought was the greatest drummer and was a huge influence--Buddy Rich.

How many drummers have fronted his own band for decades?

I could go on, but I rest my case.
 
Last edited:

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
Maybe. Actually, the one thing I’ve never seen anyone do as well is his buzz roll. Buddy himself said Billy Gladstone had a better buzz roll, but I’ve never seen video of Gladstone’s playing.
He also said he admired Chick Webb. Imagine how incredible that guy was if Buddy held him in high-esteem.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
I like the greatest "of all time" part. Yes Buddy Rich is the greatest and no one will ever be better. From now until eternity.


.
 

Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
Many names thrown about in this thread. Sure some of them have the ability. Many may have him licked in technical facility. Some may even have it over him as far as a broader application of their musicality is concerned.

But which one of them has stood taller?

Go and ask the average man on the street who Steve Gadd, or Hal Blaine, or Gavin Harrison, or Mike Mangini are. You'll draw a blank. But there was a time where everyone knew Buddy.

Like I said in the very first response. Much like Ali, his greatness lies as much in the profile he managed to raise and the attention he was able to bring to to his craft, as it was actually plying that craft. He transcended the actual act of playing drums and became a focal point for the entire craft.

He was a giant. None have stood taller or shone brighter. That's not subjective. That's just cold hard fact. And for that reason alone, rightly or wrongly, he'll continue to top "best ever" lists.
 
D

drumming sort of person

Guest
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.
Seriously? Do your homework dude. Buddy played a complete set once with NO SPRING on his pedal. Give that a shot.
 

mikel

Platinum Member
Chick Webb was way ahead of his time, probably more so than Buddy was during his era. And he was a nice, modest and encouraging guy.
 

Traditional Grip

Senior Member
Of course someone can emulate Buddy Rich-as posted here on DW. http://www.drummerworld.com/drummers/Eric_Fischer.html. Pretty dang impressive of Eric.
Impressive indeed!

However, this is a careful note-by-note transcription, study, and remake of a selected solo. Anyone with the notation know-how and chops could pull this off.

Put this guy in Buddy's Big Bang, have him drive the songs and improvise several solos on the spot. I don't think anyone with their eyes closed would think it was really Buddy.

Not digging this wonderful accomplishment in any way, as it is very impressive. I'm just saying that to emulate Buddy, you have to be able to do several of these on the spot and drive the band in the way he did. I've yet to see that happen.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
Chick Webb was way ahead of his time, probably more so than Buddy was during his era. And he was a nice, modest and encouraging guy.
Well... here's Art Blakey's account of his lessons with Webb:

He came in wearing a camel-hair coat and a cap, and brought Ella Fitzgerald and a chihuahua with him. He said, 'Make a roll, kid,' and I started rolling—what I thought was a roll. He walked to the door with Ella, pushed her out, turned around, looked at me, went 'Sheeeeeeeeeet,' slammed the door and walked away.

Another time I went to see him, and I thought I'd hang out with him all night. Instead, he put me upstairs with a metronome, made that damn thing go at the slowest tempo you ever heard, and said, 'Roll to a hundred, and if you stop, I'll come upstairs and break your skull.'
(h/t Chip Stern)
 

Polska

Member
Evidently, many of those who do not believe BR is the greatest drummer of all time don't have the proper perspective. Most of those who have commented above who don't believe BR is the greatest have only seen YouTube videos of him in his 70s when he was just a shadow of himself compared to his prime. I suggest that these people get the album "Swingin' New Big Band" that was recorded live when Rich was 50 years old and still in his prime. Those who commented that he didn't have foot work like the chops masters of today need only listen to "West Side Story Medley" where they will hear polyrhythms and time signature changes. Also, there is a YouTube recording made in the 40s in which Rich comes out on stage where there were only two bass drums set up. He proceeds to play double bass patterns to show that the whole Louis Bellson double bass drum thing was no big deal.

BR had an idetic memory and when his new big band was rehearsing, a drummer was brought in to play the songs using the charts on the initial play through, after which Rich would have the whole song down.

Buddy Rich could play 600 strokes continuously with his left hand--cleanly.

The speed drummers of today playing very fast compared to how Rich played in the context of a song or a solo is like comparing the kids who can do all kinds of dazzling dunks to Michael Jordan dunking against a couple of 6'11" NBA players during an NBA game.

Anyone who knows anything about jazz knows that it is significantly more complex than rock--even progressive rock (example Take Five by Dave Brubeck Quartet). Rich could play anything in front of him of any genre.

There are those who maintain that John Bonham is the greatest rock drummer. Guess who John Bonham thought was the greatest drummer and was a huge influence--Buddy Rich.

How many drummers have fronted his own band for decades?

I could go on, but I rest my case.
Wow....yeah....600 you say....wow. All of this is just....wow.

"anyone who knows anything about jazz knows that it is significantly more complex than rock--even progressive rock"....wow, dummy me. May as well stop listening to both jazz and prog for all the good it's done me over the years. Apparently I've learned much less than I thought over the decades.

Whelp - you've convinced me.
 

Signals

Senior Member
Whoa, let's back up for a second. I thought I just read that Jeff Indyke is not the greatest drummer ever...? ...this cannot be correct...
 

TripleStroke

Senior Member
Extremely easy question to hear, difficult to answer to

I was gonna chime in but answers I got through reading this thread got me nodding. That's all
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
600 strokes per minute?? Isn't the record something like 1,200 strokes per minute by Mike Mangini and Tom Grosset? Anyways I am a huge Buddy Rich fan-I vividly remember him on Johnny Carson-another drummer, and he was always entertaining on the kit and off in conversation-the drum battles were fun too. He was also into martial arts and so was I at the time. He definitely has the name recognition and has inspired generations of drummers. Even with Buddy's huge ego I'm sure he hopes others will continue and surpass his efforts though-as he carried the torch so long as a great emissary for drumming. So yeah Buddy's the greatest but that's like I wink and tell each of my daughters each is my favorite. Which they are.
 

Texan

Member
The 600 strokes per minute continuously were with his left hand only, not both hands. He had a single stroke roll that was faster than 1200 strokes per minute rate. I just refer you to West Side Story on Swingin New Big Band where you will hear an incredible single stroke short burst as a fill that also changes dynamics during that fill. You simply have to hear it.
 

bud7h4

Silver Member
With art, you can't win.

There is no "greatest drummer of all time."

I have my favorites, just like you have yours.
I disagree for a couple of reasons.

Reason 1: Not all art can be equally measured for talent. Some art is purely an expression, requiring no actual technical ability (Yoko Ono "performance").
There can be no "best" expression, but there can be better/worse technical performances.

Painting and drumming are both art, but beyond a certain level, drumming requires tremendous physical ability similar to sports, and the mental training to do several things at once (and that's an understatement).

Reason 2: Just because we can't all agree on who the "best" is, doesn't mean that there is no best. We'll never know who the best is, that's true, but it's not because there is no best. It's because our opinions and tastes, among other factors, won't allow for a consensus.

Consider this: who is the better drummer, Jojo or me? (Obvious answer)
And if one can be better, then one can be the best.

Edit: Important to note that comparing drummers of different musical styles and genres can be futile. It's simply apples and oranges in many cases. What they're playing can be so different from one another that you might as well be comparing a guitarist to a bassist.
 
Last edited:

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
I disagree for a couple of reasons.

Reason 1: Not all art can be equally measured for talent. Some art is purely an expression, requiring no actual technical ability (Yoko Ono "performance").
There can be no "best" expression, but there can be better/worse technical performances.

Painting and drumming are both art, but beyond a certain level, drumming requires tremendous physical ability similar to sports, and the mental training to do several things at once (and that's an understatement).

Reason 2: Just because we can't all agree on who the "best" is, doesn't mean that there is no best. We'll never know who the best is, that's true, but it's not because there is no best. It's because our opinions and tastes, among other factors, won't allow for a consensus.

Consider this: who is the better drummer, Jojo or me? (Obvious answer)
And if one can be better, then one can be the best.

Edit: Important to note that comparing drummers of different musical styles and genres can be futile. It's simply apples and oranges in many cases. What they're playing can be so different from one another that you might as well be comparing a guitarist to a bassist.

I think from my point of view, I'm perfectly comfortable with the idea that music isn't competitive. For example, maybe by a lot of people's standards Jojo may be a "better" drummer than you; however, you may play in such a way that I would much rather listen to you than Jojo. Maybe I like your style better, the way you construct fills, the way your stick comes off the snare. See, I don't care for jazz (you can take the boy out of the country...), and I don't really like drum solos either (maybe there are a couple of exceptions, but I don't know). I don't care for speed or weird time signatures. I like solid groove. Please keep in mind that I really do lack a lot of refinement.

If you want to consider him "the best," then awesome. If a lot of pros consider him "the best," then even better. Do I? Nope. Because I simply don't think that way. If a lot of people believe "a thing," this doesn't mean I have to...even if these people are influential in my life.
It's hard to measure "best" with anything relatively artistic. Speed and timing could be measured; however, it's difficult (if not impossible) to measure other things that have to do with music (well, in my opinion anyways).

I'm really glad that you are passionate about Buddy Rich, and I'm glad you enjoy listening to him. I really appreciate your input as well! You've given me a lot to think about.
 
Last edited:

CommanderRoss

Silver Member
Of course someone can emulate Buddy Rich-as posted here on DW. http://www.drummerworld.com/drummers/Eric_Fischer.html. Pretty dang impressive of Eric.
I watched the side-by-side comparison vid of Trombone Man and while he's 100% skilled and phenomenally impressive, Eric lacks the showmanship Buddy did. Eric looked bored to be honest while Buddy was "putting on the show" for those watching.

That to me is the difference between what Buddy did & how everyone else does it.
 
Top