Is Buddy Rich REALLY the greatest drummer of all time?

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
Well it's like watching Jeff Porcaro demonstrate his Roseanna shuffle-in the video he first does a Bonham and Purdie shuffle to demonstrate his developing his shuffle. Course he's got the mechanics of both-but it doesn't really sound like either. I often note those who sight read while they play-technically sound great but visually often seem lack luster. So I get where you are coming from. Tex listened to plenty of Buddy (I'm 62) and West Side Story-we did it in an orchestra I use to play so I listened to numerous versions by many including Buddy. Course the orchestra I was in didn't think the drum kit was front and center so it was always hold back. Like I said Buddy was a huge influence on me and I think he's a great drummer but "greatest" isn't terms I generally think. I was a scientist and I've never pondered who is the greatest scientist-it'd be what discipline, what question, what era, etc. Plenty of greats but "greatest" seems too subjective. It's difficult too cause drummers like Tony Williams, Elvin Jones, and others muddy the waters with great drumming. I'm a huge Tony Williams fan too-and not giving him a nod just seems wrong-then too he died relatively young while he was still an evolving drummer expanding drum horizons. But in general terms neither Tony or Elvin really had the name recognition and general popularity as Buddy so I see how people generally weigh the question-but if you start asking drummers then plenty of great drummers state Tony was the most phenomenal drummer they'd ever seen live. It would be interesting to do a scientific poll with categories of pointed questions to objectively measure "greatness" as defined by questionnaire. I bet the general population might say Buddy Rich, but asking musicians or drummers you will definitely run into differences I wager.
 
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Merlin5

Gold Member
I think the phrase "one of the greats" would be more appropriate in music.

In sports it's easy to say if someone is the greatest.

"He always came 1st in his races, he was the greatest". Bolt.

"He's the greatest swimmer that ever lived, he won more gold medals than anyone that ever lived." Phelps.

"He's the greatest racing driver, the only person to win 7 world championships." Schumacher.

All the above named the greatest are valid titles because they're based on unbeaten records.

How does one quantify that in music? You could argue that Hal Blaine is the greatest drummer that ever lived because his unbeaten record is actually the amount of records he played on. But it's not the same type of comparison as in sports.

With drumming or any instrument, does one translate "greatest" by technical ability, musicality, versatility? Buddy had great technical ability and of course swung really well. Was he versatile? As I think had been mentioned, he's an amazing big band drummer. But that's the only style of music he played, or that I know of.

Take someone like Jeff Porcaro who's revered by almost every drummer because of his feel and tastefully conceived and well placed fills. Because he's not flying around the kit like Buddy, does this mean he's not as great? Nope. He's playing in a way Buddy simply couldn't. Steve Gadd, Vinnie Colaiuta, incredibly versatile, musical and tons of chops. Not being flashy for the sake of it, but really saying something.
 

aydee

Platinum Member
I think the phrase "one of the greats" would be more appropriate in music.

In sports it's easy to say if someone is the greatest.

"He always came 1st in his races, he was the greatest". Bolt.

"He's the greatest swimmer that ever lived, he won more gold medals than anyone that ever lived." Phelps.

"He's the greatest racing driver, the only person to win 7 world championships." Schumacher.

All the above named the greatest are valid titles because they're based on unbeaten records.

How does one quantify that in music? You could argue that Hal Blaine is the greatest drummer that ever lived because his unbeaten record is actually the amount of records he played on. But it's not the same type of comparison as in sports.

With drumming or any instrument, does one translate "greatest" by technical ability, musicality, versatility? Buddy had great technical ability and of course swung really well. Was he versatile? As I think had been mentioned, he's an amazing big band drummer. But that's the only style of music he played, or that I know of.

Take someone like Jeff Porcaro who's revered by almost every drummer because of his feel and tastefully conceived and well placed fills. Because he's not flying around the kit like Buddy, does this mean he's not as great? Nope. He's playing in a way Buddy simply couldn't. Steve Gadd, Vinnie Colaiuta, incredibly versatile, musical and tons of chops. Not being flashy for the sake of it, but really saying something.
Agee. In reference to music, toss out the rulebook and put away that measuring tape.

I find maestro to be a good word to describe that nebulous, immortal stamp that some musicians put on their music. Maestro- Thats good enough. To describe Buddy, Mike Mangini, Jim Keltner, Gadd, Marco Minnieman, Tony Williams... yadada

For every apple called Buddy, there's an orange called Ringo.... or a strawberry called Gadd, a watermelon called Elvin n so on..

Kick back and enjoy what they had to say, not how they said it..


...
 

Tommy_D

Platinum Member
I think Buddy was a good showman and had very fast hands which lead to much of his fame at the time. His big mouth had a lot to do with his fame in the later years, but I digress. He was a very influential drummer, likely the most influential drummer of all time, but this doesn't make him "the best" in my book.

He's well known to John Q. Public (thanks to his many talk show appearances - as a guest and not part of the musical act) and I think this is why his status as "best of all time" is always brought up, because he is a good drummer and is popular. People who actually know drumming and know that there are other great drummers out there will know that Buddy was a one trick pony. Yes he was very good at what he did, but he was very limited to his specific style.
 
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Otto

Platinum Member
Much much better. If Buddy was session drummer in the 80's the radio would be a blast to listen to.
I have never heard Buddy do an interesting rock performance.

Maybe he didn't want to?

I do not think he would have come up with the composition we hear in Tom Sawyer....which is a large part of the brilliance of Peart's Performance...and I doubt what he would have composed would be interesting beyond a technical standpoint.
 

Texan

Member
I suspect that those who think BR was a one trick pony have never heard his brush work or his small combo recordings. I guess as the OP said that everyone from Peart to Weckl, plus others like John Bonham saying Buddy Rich is the greatest of all time just isn't good enough for some on this thread.
 

Texan

Member
Great article, especially Steve Smith suggesting albums that people could listen to and hear a different side of his playing where Rich is both a subtle and an explosive accompanist.
 
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Bo Eder

Platinum Member
I suspect that those who think BR was a one trick pony have never heard his brush work or his small combo recordings. I guess as the OP said that everyone from Peart to Weckl, plus others like John Bonham saying Buddy Rich is the greatest of all time just isn't good enough for some on this thread.
^^Agreed.

Sometimes the internet just blows my mind with attitudes about people who have worked hard to become bonafide masters. On Facebook, someone commented on the death of Ndugu Chancellor saying that anyone could have played the drums on Michael Jackson's Billie Jean. The best response to that from someone was (paraphrased) "He got the call, and he did it. You didn't. And not anyone could have done it".

This is the same case here (and any other discussion of people we may hold in high esteem. They did the work to get there. You didn't, and by nature of this, they got there first. It's not just technique and mastery of your instrument that gets you places (and we keep discussing that here). It's who you know, how you get along with them, and the interaction of the musicians you work with.

Does it matter that he couldn't have composed Tom Sawyer? Does it matter that his feet aren't what Mike Mangini's are? The fact is, Buddy became a bonafide drum star by being able to cut it with his contemporaries, and by being sociable enough to make lifelong career friends. This seems like a lot more than working hard to be a bedroom Youtube drummer, no? Which, by the way, is the majority of people you meet at NAMM. All those products? Being sold to the dreamers who dream about making it bigger than where they currently are.

I think it's cool that people have opinions, but it would be cooler if those people would look in the mirror first about where they're at before espousing an opinion on someone who made their music career the first thing in their lives, and to try to push along their craft. In fact, I've often noticed that people who are always working, are not on internet forums complaining about others. They're too busy working and playing music with other musicians.

This has happened in the past - remember when everyone complained about Hannah Ford? You know, the musician who got the gig playing for PRINCE? I'm pretty sure she wasn't busy worrying about what was said about her on Drummerworld. Heck, people say mean things about Lars Ulrich (still) or (insert any drummer you don't like). But you know, they're out there doing what they do. As we should all be doing. I'm going out right now.
 

Hummada

Senior Member
Buddy is one the greatest musicians ever born. He deserves way more credit! If he would have played another instrument full time, it would be the greatest at that instrument. You can sit here and dig on his attitude or chops and say he over played or he was an asshole. Those people that say that have clearly not done their homework about Buddy. You have no clue what you're saying and are getting your information from ignorance. That's ok, because maybe these people will one day figure that out and learn how to actually listen to his music and learn to research. Also, read some articles from his family and friends and tell me he was an asshole.

Yes ..listening to music and being able to point out certain things in time, what the drummer is doing in relationship to the band, is something you learn over time in your life. Please take your time and listen. Go get some Buddy Rich albums and videos and watch, listen, and learn. Do it even if you don't like the music! It took me a lot of time to begin to HEAR what Buddy was doing and it wasn't chops!! It's nothing but pure emotion and in the zone. He took drumming to a level beyond anyone ever whether you like it or not.

On that note, some of his albums he put out were very simple drum parts and disco. Yeah buddy did an almost disco album. Or you could call it porn music.

I wish I was older and grew up with Buddy and the great players back then. What we have these days is shit. No substance, no music, and no feel. The great players these days are not in the spotlight. What does that tell you?-this is a major subject!

I also would like to ask why there are no drummers in the spotlight like Buddy? Why is there no other drummer in the world since Buddy that gets to that level? We have more tech, opportunity, and there is no draft! Where is the greatest? If you research his life and playing you will find the answers. Not YouTube bullshit
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
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.
Are you saying that the ambiguous imaginary construct by which we declare our favorite idols superior to others is not.... an ambiguous imaginary construct?

Who would have guessed?!

O¿O
 

Hummada

Senior Member
Are you saying that the ambiguous imaginary construct by which we declare our favorite idols superior to others is not.... an ambiguous imaginary construct?

Who would have guessed?!

O¿O
Those are some big words but what would Jeff Indyke say?
 

TK-421

Senior Member
Wow, some of these Buddy Rich accolades are starting to sound like a certain beer commercial.

He's one the greatest musicians ever born.
He could play 600 strokes per minute continuously with his left hand--cleanly.
If he would have played another instrument, he would be the greatest at that instrument.
He could play anything in front of him, in any genre, without practice. He just looked, listened and played.
He once wowed a packed house with nothing more than two bass drums.
He famously played a complete set with NO SPRING on his pedal.
His version of Tom Sawyer would have made Neil Peart cry tears of joy.

He is... the most interesting drummer in the world.

Buddy: "I don't always play drums. But when I do, I play the shit out of them."


(Note that I paraphrased or combined some of these responses for effect)
 
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Bernhard

Founder Drummerworld
Staff member
Buddy Rich is the greatest Drummer of all time...

..and now we go down in our practice room

Bernhard
 

Merlin5

Gold Member
^^Agreed.

Sometimes the internet just blows my mind with attitudes about people who have worked hard to become bonafide masters. On Facebook, someone commented on the death of Ndugu Chancellor saying that anyone could have played the drums on Michael Jackson's Billie Jean. The best response to that from someone was (paraphrased) "He got the call, and he did it. You didn't. And not anyone could have done it".

This is the same case here (and any other discussion of people we may hold in high esteem. They did the work to get there. You didn't, and by nature of this, they got there first. It's not just technique and mastery of your instrument that gets you places (and we keep discussing that here). It's who you know, how you get along with them, and the interaction of the musicians you work with.

Does it matter that he couldn't have composed Tom Sawyer? Does it matter that his feet aren't what Mike Mangini's are? The fact is, Buddy became a bonafide drum star by being able to cut it with his contemporaries, and by being sociable enough to make lifelong career friends. This seems like a lot more than working hard to be a bedroom Youtube drummer, no? Which, by the way, is the majority of people you meet at NAMM. All those products? Being sold to the dreamers who dream about making it bigger than where they currently are.

I think it's cool that people have opinions, but it would be cooler if those people would look in the mirror first about where they're at before espousing an opinion on someone who made their music career the first thing in their lives, and to try to push along their craft. In fact, I've often noticed that people who are always working, are not on internet forums complaining about others. They're too busy working and playing music with other musicians.

This has happened in the past - remember when everyone complained about Hannah Ford? You know, the musician who got the gig playing for PRINCE? I'm pretty sure she wasn't busy worrying about what was said about her on Drummerworld. Heck, people say mean things about Lars Ulrich (still) or (insert any drummer you don't like). But you know, they're out there doing what they do. As we should all be doing. I'm going out right now.
I agree with what you say, and certainly not anyone could have played Billy Jean the way Ndugu did. But I think you might have gotten off topic a little. Noone in this thread is putting Buddy Rich down or acting like an armchair critic where they should need to look at themselves before passing judgement. Everyone here knows Rich was an amazing drummer, a child prodigy, and certainly someone who I have admired and been inspired by for nearly 50 years. This thread is just about people's opinions as to whether he, or anyone drummer for that matter, is, can or should be labelled the greatest of all time.

Just because Peart, Bonham and other famous drummers say he was is to be fair, just their opinion, although I'll grant you that given their status and abilities, it certainty adds weight to their claim! :)
 
I would put Gene Krupa above Buddy, not for technique or expertise, but for his feel and groove.

If you want speed, go with Rich; if you want "musicality", go with Krupa.

Edit- Krupa also brought more to the drumming world.
 
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