Is Buddy Rich REALLY the greatest drummer of all time?

Dr_Watso

Platinum 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)
I'm so into this response. Right on.
 

TK-421

Senior Member
I'm so into this response. Right on.
Thanks, Watso. Obviously Buddy was an amazing drummer, and I hope no one thinks I was trying to put him down or anything like that. But you have to admit, some of these over-the-top accolades begin to sound more like "legend" than reality. Of course, I know a few of these were meant to be funny.

Just for the record, my two favorite drummers are Vinnie Colaiuta and Gavin Harrison. I can watch either of them for hours on end. But every time I watch a Buddy Rich video, after 5 minutes I've had enough. That's not to say that he's not a great drummer, it's just that his style of playing doesn't really resonate with me. If he resonates with anyone here, great. By all means, watch him and say how great he is to your heart's content. Everyone is going to have a different favorite drummer, and everyone is entitled to their favorites.

I guess what irks me is the notion that Buddy is, was, and will always be the greatest of all time, period. That kind of thinking is very closed minded, like you're just supposed to "accept" that as fact, and anyone who questions it be damned. I'm the kind of person who likes to question things and come up with my own conclusions.

And my conclusion is that there isn't a greatest of all time. No one, not Buddy, not Vinnie, not Neil, not Gavin, nor anyone else can claim that title. As others have mentioned (and as I've alluded to), there's really no way to objectively measure who's the greatest, so no one really can be.

But if anyone wants to say that Buddy was the GOAT, I'm not going to argue with you or try to talk you out of it. Just as I'm entitled to my opinion, you are entitled to yours.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
Thanks, Watso. Obviously Buddy was an amazing drummer, and I hope no one thinks I was trying to put him down or anything like that. But you have to admit, some of these over-the-top accolades begin to sound more like "legend" than reality. Of course, I know a few of these were meant to be funny.

Just for the record, my two favorite drummers are Vinnie Colaiuta and Gavin Harrison. I can watch either of them for hours on end. But every time I watch a Buddy Rich video, after 5 minutes I've had enough. That's not to say that he's not a great drummer, it's just that his style of playing doesn't really resonate with me. If he resonates with anyone here, great. By all means, watch him and say how great he is to your heart's content. Everyone is going to have a different favorite drummer, and everyone is entitled to their favorites.

I guess what irks me is the notion that Buddy is, was, and will always be the greatest of all time, period. That kind of thinking is very closed minded, like you're just supposed to "accept" that as fact, and anyone who questions it be damned. I'm the kind of person who likes to question things and come up with my own conclusions.

And my conclusion is that there isn't a greatest of all time. No one, not Buddy, not Vinnie, not Neil, not Gavin, nor anyone else can claim that title. As others have mentioned (and as I've alluded to), there's really no way to objectively measure who's the greatest, so no one really can be.

But if anyone wants to say that Buddy was the GOAT, I'm not going to argue with you or try to talk you out of it. Just as I'm entitled to my opinion, you are entitled to yours.
Stop being so logical. We are having a discussion about an art form here.





(I love watching Buddy play, but I do agree with you.)


.
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
I would put Gene Krupa above Buddy

Edit- Krupa also brought more to the drumming world.
I credit Krupa for getting people to pick up the sticks, whereas I credit Rich for showing drummers what they could do with them after their third year playing.

Funny related anecdote...

I was talking to Jay Boon about Guitar Center circa 1999 and how they were eating mom&pop shops and asked what he thought. He said that he loved GC, because they sold thousands of $300 trash instruments, and one in a thousand of their customers would eventually learn to play guitar.... At which point they would come to him.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
I guess what irks me is the notion that Buddy is, was, and will always be the greatest of all time, period. That kind of thinking is very closed minded, like you're just supposed to "accept" that as fact, and anyone who questions it be damned. I'm the kind of person who likes to question things and come up with my own conclusions.
If you think that's bad you should have seen the guys saying the same about Travis Barker.
 

TK-421

Senior Member
If you think that's bad you should have seen the guys saying the same about Travis Barker.
Oh, THAT. Yeah, I remember the whole Travis Barker thing. But I think that was mostly trolling, rather than people who actually believed it.
 

Hummada

Senior Member
Yes when I was born, Buddy came to the hospital and nighted me. He cut my shoulder, slapped my momma,and I have the scar to this day. It gave me a touch of his talent which I have yet to unleash on YouTube. But when I do, it will end all this nonsense.
 

drummer-russ

Gold Member
Lots of good points. I won't regurgitate all of the points but only a few to add to them.

First, the idea that any of the greats mentioned couldn't do a specific thing in a different era or genre is flawed thinking. Any of these drummers, given the interest or need to play a different style or genre would have assuredly worked on the skills and techniques needed.

Second, I usually don't go for greatest discussions. Too many variables and if you asked everyone the criteria for their proclamation I guarantee it would vary widely. It would be fun to develop a real list or criteria to then judge them on. Until then, no proclamation of greatest. One of the greats or my favorite, sure thing.

Third I agree with Tex, there can be a greatest given proper criteria.

Fourth, too many folks fail to properly value those that did it first compared to those that copied or added to. The idea that the Beach Boys or the Beatles or not great because people copy them with relative ease, but only accurate to a reasonable degree. They thought this stuff up and perfected without anyone to copy.

Finally I agree with a few that have given solid criteria about Buddy's playing that makes them think he is the greatest. To those that mention people like Mangini, sorry, but see my fourth point.
 
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Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
Just for the record, my....... favorite drummers are Vinnie Colaiuta ...........
Without a doubt the most "complete" drummer I've ever seen. He's convincing in any genre he's placed in. From rock, to pop, to jazz, to fusion, to metal. He plays it like he belongs. Like it's all he plays.
I think Vinnie's overall skill set, musical ability and the tastefulness to apply it, covers more ground than any other drummer I've laid eyes on. He was definitely an innovator.

If there really was a "best" then I'd vote Vinnie to top my list too. At least in terms of pure drumming ability. But despite his immeasurable musical talent, innovation, ability and expression, and at the risk of sounding like a broken record, he still doesn't stand as tall. Not in the court of wider public opinion. Why that is, may be a mystery. But so is the rest of the general public psyche at times I guess.
 

steadypocket

Gold Member
If we include fame and influence in the definition of “great,” then yeah I’ll call him the greatest. His name is synonymous with drums and is instantly recognizable by people who can’t even spell MUSIC. He’s influenced more drummers to pick up sticks than anyone other than perhaps Ringo. Like Babe Ruth, he was heads and shoulders better at his profession than almost all of his contemporaries. Few were in the same zip code. Good thing character isn’t a trait used to define greatness though. Like Ali, Buddy was an ass. We’re sadly a society that equates decency with fame. Best player? Hardly, for the reasons many have cited in this thread. Several drummers by 2018 have surpassed his musicality on a drum kit.
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
Gosh the thread is still going I thought it was settled Buddy was the greatest-yep Buddy Guy the Greatest Blues Guitarist. So it's settled. I'd like to see Chick Webb play-just listening to some sound tracks and this one video https://vimeo.com/66999761. can't really reflect this drum giant.
 

Mattsdad

Member
I've gotten to play with a lot of wonderful drummers, including Roach, Shaughnessy, Blakey, and quite often Louie Bellson. Early on, I discovered that top-line drummers produced a higher energy, even when playing softly. Over time, I came to accept this as a power derived from optimum coordination of man and instruments. You could watch Roach for just a few seconds and discern little if any, wasted energy. Then when he tacked on that absurdly high musicianship, you could feel a charge up your back.

That said, I never experienced anything like the voltage received from Buddy. It was on a different level and physically affected you. Comparatively, my first experience with Louie was very uplifting, remarkable in fact. But, my first time with Buddy was jarring. For most of set one, I could barely see notes for the involuntary purple dots. Then at break, I immediately ran for the bathroom, nor am I the only horn player to know that transformation. As for this greatness thing, I defer to other drummers. Roach and Rufus Jones were the only high enders I ever heard not speak of Buddy with something bordering on reverence. Jo Jones for example, used to make a wide path for him. So, who am I to disagree?
 

picautomaton

Junior Member
All I can say is that if Buddy Rich used sticks like the Vic Firth signature model he is definitely one of the strongest drummers ever. To be able to do all the stuff he did with those sticks (heavy / long) he must be an exceptionally strong drummer.
 

Alex Sanguinetti

Silver Member
I've gotten to play with a lot of wonderful drummers, including Roach, Shaughnessy, Blakey, and quite often Louie Bellson. Early on, I discovered that top-line drummers produced a higher energy, even when playing softly. Over time, I came to accept this as a power derived from optimum coordination of man and instruments. You could watch Roach for just a few seconds and discern little if any, wasted energy. Then when he tacked on that absurdly high musicianship, you could feel a charge up your back.

That said, I never experienced anything like the voltage received from Buddy. It was on a different level and physically affected you. Comparatively, my first experience with Louie was very uplifting, remarkable in fact. But, my first time with Buddy was jarring. For most of set one, I could barely see notes for the involuntary purple dots. Then at break, I immediately ran for the bathroom, nor am I the only horn player to know that transformation. As for this greatness thing, I defer to other drummers. Roach and Rufus Jones were the only high enders I ever heard not speak of Buddy with something bordering on reverence. Jo Jones for example, used to make a wide path for him. So, who am I to disagree?

Very interesting, and what´s your real name?

Best regards!
 

J-Boogie

Gold Member
Very interesting to say the least!!! Wow, what real world experience....with the gods of our instrument. Your input it truly appreciated Mattsdad, thank you.
 

no talent

Senior Member
Buddy during his time was on a different level. He couldn't keep up with today Portnoys or Manginis though. He was leaps and bounds ahead back then, but now there is a bunch of guys on a level above him.
 

J-Boogie

Gold Member
Yup, another vote for Portnoy. Buddy was great and all, but I feel like I never a heard a single quad and very little double bass except for that one audio file.

Gosh, I thought one was supposed to be less of a d#$& after a vacation, mine obviously didn't work, sure was nice tho...I gotta move to Florida
 

Rattlin' Bones

Gold Member
Buddy was much more of a musician that any modern drummer. All of those great big band/ big jazz band (there is a difference) jazz drummers were. In those genres the current contemporary jazz drummers still are.

Listen to old Blue Note, Pablo, and other classic jazz recordings. Those guys are at a different level. Bellson, Krupa, Roach, Morello, Elvin Jones. Music in an ensemble was and is a conversation with jazz. Not so much rock. Those dudes were musicians blending their instrument into the mix. Give a listen you'll hear it. Densmore was a jazz drummer before he started playing with The Doors. He's an incredible drummer. Same thing with Ginger Baker.
 
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