Is Buddy Rich REALLY the greatest drummer of all time?

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
That's true MattsDad about personality. Everyone always loved Johnny Carson but I understand he was also not so nice a person. Maybe that's why Johnny loved having Buddy on-two birds of a feather LOL. It doesn't really matter-James Watson had to resign from Cold Spring Harbor because of some comments deemed racially insensitive-yet he was a great scientist. Actually the more I think about it a lot of famed scientist are dicks-hey maybe that's why I never made it to famed scientist level LOL. Whether greatest or not it would be difficult to argue Buddy wasn't one of the most influential drummers of all times.
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
I was never a big fan of Buddy Rich and he wasn't a direct influence on me when I started playing drums. I didn't own an album and I didn't have any posters of him on my wall. I probably thought he was overrated 35 years ago.

But I feel now that he's probably more underrated by drummers today than overrated. He seems to have been reduced to the sum of his YouTube solos. I guess it's the combination of him being 30 years gone, the audio from those bus tapes and the videos of him playing all these solos.

Buddy Rich was a lot more than a soloist. He not only swung some of the greatest big bands, but he fronted some of them at a time when their popularity had waned. He pretty much carried them by sheer force of will. He's judged on how nice he is, which to my mind has no place in a discussion about his musicianship. Even if it did, he's being judged by people who never met him, which is silly.

He played all the styles that were around during his time. He jumped on two bass drums and was startlingly proficient 70 YEARS AGO, when Louis Bellson was the only drummer who even had a set. You think he wouldn't be one of the most astonishing double bass players today if he pursued that? He even dipped his toe into the rock and funk stuff later on.

Also, the idea that today's technicians are so much better really sells short how good Buddy's hands were. There are always specific techniques that someone can do better than another. I think it was Simon Phillips who said that when doing clinics, there's always someone in the audience who can do some given thing better than him. But Buddy had ridiculous hands overall. His power, speed and control were unmatched, and in some ways still are today. The heroes of today known for their incredible technique can do some amazing things, but if we're really being brutally honest, none of them approaches that single stroke roll Buddy would play across the whole dynamic spectrum. Yes, that includes your favorite drummer of today.

I'm no Buddy Rich fanboy, but some of this stuff has to be said.
 

Rattlin' Bones

Gold Member
Exactly!!!! Like I said before, before anyone puts down Buddy Rich, they gotta listen to Buddy from 30's 40's 50's playing in small ensembles with the likes of Charlie Parker, or some of his studio session gigs. He was a fantastic player with a great earned for what the rest of musicians were doing around him in the jazz, jazz band, big band genres of that time period.

Today's super-technicians with a zillion pieces of equipment and cymbals out the wazzo and elecrro-gizmos playing with a few live musicians and some auxillary background tracks to "fill in" the sound are not in the same league. It ain't about how you sound outside the ensemble; it's what your contributing to the 100% live ensemble.

I was never a big fan of Buddy Rich and he wasn't a direct influence on me when I started playing drums. I didn't own an album and I didn't have any posters of him on my wall. I probably thought he was overrated 35 years ago.

But I feel now that he's probably more underrated by drummers today than overrated. He seems to have been reduced to the sum of his YouTube solos. I guess it's the combination of him being 30 years gone, the audio from those bus tapes and the videos of him playing all these solos.

Buddy Rich was a lot more than a soloist. He not only swung some of the greatest big bands, but he fronted some of them at a time when their popularity had waned. He pretty much carried them by sheer force of will. He's judged on how nice he is, which to my mind has no place in a discussion about his musicianship. Even if it did, he's being judged by people who never met him, which is silly.

He played all the styles that were around during his time. He jumped on two bass drums and was startlingly proficient 70 YEARS AGO, when Louis Bellson was the only drummer who even had a set. You think he wouldn't be one of the most astonishing double bass players today if he pursued that? He even dipped his toe into the rock and funk stuff later on.

Also, the idea that today's technicians are so much better really sells short how good Buddy's hands were. There are always specific techniques that someone can do better than another. I think it was Simon Phillips who said that when doing clinics, there's always someone in the audience who can do some given thing better than him. But Buddy had ridiculous hands overall. His power, speed and control were unmatched, and in some ways still are today. The heroes of today known for their incredible technique can do some amazing things, but if we're really being brutally honest, none of them approaches that single stroke roll Buddy would play across the whole dynamic spectrum. Yes, that includes your favorite drummer of today.

I'm no Buddy Rich fanboy, but some of this stuff has to be said.
 

Hummada

Senior Member
He was the greatest in HIS time.
There's still no one that has his physical ability in drums. If you are going to name any top drummers of today then I know you haven't listened. Hell, there are many drummers back then, as mentioned in this thread and even Buddy, that are way beyond all the technical drummers of today.

Keep in mind of what today's music is if you can find it. You know that thing called " music"! Yeah
 

cbphoto

Gold Member
During that era, I think Joe Morello was a better drummer. Better in technique, tone, composition, accompanying, soloing, and attitude.

Why did Rich get all this attention? My guess is American TV media used his brash style to sell advertising, and something stuck.

From what I can find, Take Five sold far more albums and got much more radio play than anything Rich did.
 

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
During that era, I think Joe Morello was a better drummer. Better in technique, tone, composition, accompanying, soloing, and attitude.

Why did Rich get all this attention? My guess is American TV media used his brash style to sell advertising, and something stuck.

From what I can find, Take Five sold far more albums and got much more radio play than anything Rich did.
Agreed 100%. Buddy had an incredible buzz roll, and I’ve never seen Morello play a buzz roll, so I can’t compare on that area, but overall Morello is definitely more my idol than Buddy.
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
I agree with 8-Mile. Buddy either had the fastest single stroke snare roll or had a way of making the roll sound faster than any other I've heard except maybe Mike Mangini.


Just an observation, just think about these people for a moment - Papa Jo, Buddy, Elvin, Tony, and today, Vinnie, Steve Smith & Gadd, Simon Phillips, etc. They are clearly not human. This may be conclusive proof that Reptilians have long walked amongst us :)
 

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
I agree with 8-Mile. Buddy either had the fastest single stroke snare roll or had a way of making the roll sound faster than any other I've heard except maybe Mike Mangini.


Just an observation, just think about these people for a moment - Papa Jo, Buddy, Elvin, Tony, and today, Vinnie, Steve Smith & Gadd, Simon Phillips, etc. They are clearly not human. This may be conclusive proof that Reptilians have long walked amongst us :)
Buddy was undoubtedly the CLEANEST player ever, and that’s why he sounded so fast. But focusing that much on playing clean is going to slow you down a bit, so...
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
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.
How many threads like this exist here? Or how many discussions like this are there? Who's great? Who isn't great? I think you don't really have to agree with anyone on who's the greatest, just acknowledge that they were great.

You can argue about Buddy's hands or whatnot, but you cannot argue about how many people he reached with his drumming. That in and of itself is awesome. Who wouldn't want that chance to be playing to millions of people throughout their lifetime, and touching people in a way that nobody else does? You can say Krupa and Roach did it, but all those greats did it in a slightly different way. Buddy did it in his own way.

This is like asking if William Shatner is a good actor. You can say he sucks and if Star Trey didn't come along, nobody would know who he was, but you cannot argue about the career the man still has. He can't really walk the streets without everybody recognizing him. Buddy had that kind of career, who wouldn't want that? If people think he's not the greatest, you still have to admit what he accomplished is very cool.
 

J-Boogie

Gold Member
Id say he did the best drum solos, as far as the masses are concerned, of all time. He was a force of nature on and off the drums. I always wondered who the best smelling drummer of all time is? If I was a pro, Id be a contender, I smell terrific.
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
Many of the old heroes had far better technique than those who don't really know about them think.

As a drummer in his time few could match Buddy.

Talk about modern players in prog and metal makes little sense, but to comment. Few play dynamically and most can't swing worth shit. It's a completely different approach to playing and music.

Then, what meant by greatness?

In the music world he has a name everybody knows, like Jimi Hendrix. Not even Vinnie has that, only in musician circles.

Gene Krupa was a star, but again today, not a name one the common man's tongue.
 
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