At 21, Rich participated in his first major recording with the Vic Schoen Orchestra (the band that backed the Andrews Sisters). In 1938, he was also hired to play in Tommy Dorsey's orchestra where Rich met and performed with Frank Sinatra. In 1942, Rich left the Dorsey band to join the United States Marine Corps. He rejoined the Dorsey group two years later after leaving the Marines. In 1946, Rich formed his own band with financial support from Sinatra and continued to lead different groups on and off until the early fifties.

In addition to Tommy Dorsey (1939–1942, 1945, 1954–1955), Rich also played with Benny Carter (1942), Harry James (1953-1956–1962, 1964, 1965), Les Brown, Charlie Ventura, and Jazz at the Philharmonic, as well as leading his own band and performing with all-star groups. In the early fifties Rich played with Dorsey and also began to perform with trumpeter Harry James, an association which lasted until 1966. In 1966, Rich left James in order to develop a new big band.

For most of the period from 1966 until his death, he led successful big bands in an era when the popularity of big bands had waned from their 1930s and 40s peak. In this later period, Rich continued to play clubs but he had stated in multiple interviews that the great majority of his big band's performances were at high schools, colleges and universities, with club performances done to a much lesser degree. Rich also served as the session drummer for many recordings, where his playing was often much more understated than in his own big-band performances. Especially notable were Rich's sessions for the late-career comeback recordings of Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, on which he worked with pianist Oscar Peterson and his famous trio featuring bassist Ray Brown and guitarist Herb Ellis.

He also appeared in such Hollywood films as Symphony of Swing (1939), Ship Ahoy (1942) and How's About It (1943).

Throughout the 1960s and 70s, Rich toured with his own bands and opened two nightclubs, Buddy's Place and Buddy's Place II. Both clubs were regularly filled to capacity by fans of the great master drummer. After opening Buddy's Place II, Rich introduced new tunes with elements of rock into his repertoire, demonstrating his ability to adapt to his audience's changing tastes and establishing himself as a great rock drummer.

In the 1950s, Rich was a frequent guest on The Steve Allen Show and other television variety shows. Known for his caustic humor, Rich was a favorite on several television talk shows including the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, the Mike Douglas Show, the Dick Cavett Show and the Merv Griffin Show. During these appearances, Rich entertained audiences through his constant sparring with the hosts and his slights of various pop singers. He appeared with his Big Band on British television, on Michael Parkinson's talk show Parkinson and on the Terry Wogan Show (the last on October 29, 1986, only a few months prior to his death). One of his most widely seen television performances was in a 1978 episode of The Muppet Show, where he engaged Muppet drummer "Animal" (played by Ronnie Verrell) in a drum battle. Rich also made a guest appearance on the TV show Here's Lucy.

This famed musician received outstanding recognition throughout his career. The Downbeat Magazine Hall of Fame Award, the Modern Drummer Magazine Hall of Fame Award and the Jazz Unlimited Immortals of Jazz Award are just a few of his numerous honors. Rich gained international attention for such master compositions as his 10-minute West Side Story medley. During his lengthy career, Rich toured around the globe, performing for millions of fans and several world leaders including the king of Thailand, the queen of England, Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Regan and King Hussein of Jordan.

On April 2, 1987, Rich died of heart failure following surgery for a malignant brain tumor. Long-time friend, Frank Sinatra, presented the eulogy at Rich's funeral. Today, Buddy Rich is remembered as one of history's greatest musicians. According to jazz legend Gene Krupa, Rich was "The greatest drummer ever to have drawn breath."
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Copyright. All rights reserved The Drum Dungeon, LLC and Jamdogs.Com

Drum Dungeon Bio - BUDDY RICH
Bernard "Buddy" Rich (September 30, 1917 – April 2, 1987) was an American jazz drummer and bandleader. Rich was billed as "the world's greatest drummer" and was known for his virtuosic technique, power, groove, and speed.

Arguably the greatest jazz drummer of all time, hailed as such by generations of drummers young and old, the legendary Buddy Rich exhibited his love for
music through the dedication of his life to the art. His was a career that spanned seven decades,
beginning when Rich was 18 months old and continuing until his death in 1987. Immensely
gifted, Rich could play with remarkable speed and dexterity despite the fact that he never
received a formal lesson and refused to practice outside of his performances.

Rich was born in Brooklyn, New York, to vaudevillians Robert and Bess Rich. His talent for rhythm was first noted by his father, who saw that Buddy could keep a steady beat with spoons at the age of one. He began playing drums in vaudeville when he was 18 months old, billed as "Traps the Drum Wonder."
For bio additions and interview requests with The Drum Dungeon, send your inquiries and requests to
At the peak of Rich's childhood career, he was reportedly the second-highest paid child entertainer in the world (after Jackie Coogan). At 11 he was performing as a bandleader. He received no formal drum instruction, and went so far as to claim that instruction would only degrade his musical talent. He also never admitted to practicing, claiming to play the drums only during performances and was not known to read music. He expressed great admiration for, and was influenced by, the playing of Chick Webb, Gene Krupa, Dave Tough, and Jo Jones, among others.

He first played jazz with a major group in 1937 with Joe Marsala and guitarist Jack Lemaire, then played with Bunny Berigan (1938) and Artie Shaw (1939). Rich even instructed a 14-year-old Mel Brooks in drumming for a short while when playing for Shaw.
The amazing Buddy Rich performing a drum solo in 1970.
Buddy Rich explains and demonstrates the difference between "Match Grip" and "Traditional Grip".
Buddy's acclaimed performance battling it out with Animal on the popular old time children's show "The Muppets"
Rich's technique has been one of the most standardized and coveted in drumming. His dexterity, musicality of playing style, speed and smooth execution are considered "holy grails" of drum technique and have been considered almost next to impossible to duplicate. While Rich typically held his sticks using traditional grip, he was also a skilled "match grip" player, and was one of few drummers to master the one-handed roll on both hands. Some of his more spectacular moves are crossover riffs, where he would criss-cross his arms from one drum to another, sometimes over the arm, and even under the arm at great speed.

He often used contrasting techniques to keep long drum solos from getting mundane. Aside from his energetic explosive displays, he would go into quieter passages. One passage he would use in most solos starts with a simple single-stroke roll on the snare picking up speed and power, then slowly moving his sticks closer to the rim as he gets quieter and then eventually playing on just the rim itself while still maintaining speed. Then he would reverse the effect and slowly move towards the center of the snare while increasing power.

Rich also demonstrated incredible skill at brush technique. On one album, Tatum Group Masterpieces No. 3 along with Lionel Hampton and Art Tatum, Rich plays brushes almost exclusively throughout.

Another technique that few drummers have been able to perfect is the stick-trick where he does a fast roll just by slapping his two sticks together in a circular motion. When performing a single-stroke roll, Rich could be clocked at up to 20 strokes per second, a feat now only being approached decades later by Mike Mangini, Jojo Mayer, Matt Smith and others.[8]

In 1942, Rich and drum teacher Henry Adler co-authored the instructional book Buddy Rich's Modern Interpretation of Snare Drum Rudiments, regarded as one of the more popular snare-drum rudiment books written, mainly because of the Buddy Rich imprimatur.
One of Adler's former students introduced Adler to Rich. "The kid told me Buddy played better than [Gene] Krupa. Buddy was only in his teens at the time and his friend was my first pupil. Buddy played and I watched his hands. Well, he knocked me right out. He did everything I wanted to do, and he did it with such ease. When I met his folks, I asked them who his teacher was. 'He never studied,' they told me. That made me feel very good. I realized that it was something physical, not only mental, that you had to have."

In a 1985 interview[citation needed], Adler clarified the extent of his teacher-student relationship to Rich and their collaboration on the instructional book:

"I had nothing to do with [the rumor that I taught Buddy how to play]. That was a result of Tommy Dorsey's introduction to the Buddy Rich book," Adler said. "I used to go around denying it, knowing that Buddy was a natural player. Sure, he studied with me, but he didn't come to me to learn how to hold the drumsticks. I set out to teach Buddy to read. He'd take six lessons, go on the road for six weeks and come back. He didn't have time to practice."[citation needed]

"Tommy Dorsey wanted Buddy to write a book and he told him to get in touch with me. I did the book and Tommy wrote the foreword. Technically, I was Buddy's teacher, but I came along after he had already acquired his technique."[citation needed]

When asked about Rich's ability to read music, Bobby Shew, lead trumpeter in Rich's mid-60s big band replied,

"No. He’d always have a drummer there during rehearsals to read and play the parts initially on new arrangements... He’d only have to listen to a chart once and he’d have it memorized. We'd run through it and he'd know exactly how it went, how many measures it ran and what he'd have to do to drive it... The guy had the most natural instincts."
Perhaps his most popular later performance was a big band arrangement of a medley derived from the Leonard Bernstein classic West Side Story, first released on the 1966 album Buddy Rich's Swingin' New Big Band

The West Side Story medley is a complex and difficult-to-perform big-band arrangement which highlights Rich's remarkable ability to blend the rhythm of his drumming into his band's playing of the musical chart. Penned by Bill Reddie, Rich received the West Side Story arrangement of Leonard Bernstein's melodies from the famed musical in the mid-1960s and found it to be very challenging even for him. It consists of many rapid-fire time changes and signatures and took almost a month of constant rehearsals to perfect. It since became a staple in all his performances, clocking in at various lengths from seven to fifteen minutes. Bernstein himself had nothing but praise for it.[citation needed] In 2002, a DVD was released called The Lost West Side Story Tapes that captured a 1985 performance of this along with other numbers.[10] These tapes had been previously thought to have been lost in a fire. Rich's ability to create spontaneous drum solos that matched and melded with the musical intricacies and intensity of big band scores was chief among his musical brilliance.

After the West Side Story Medley, Rich's most famous performance was the Channel One Suite by Bill Reddie. Like the West Side Story Medley, the Channel One Suite generally was a quite long performance ranging from about 12 minutes to about 26 minutes and usually contained 2 or 3 drum solos. Although 26 minute performances of the Channel One Suite were not incredibly common, they were not unheard of. A recording of one of his live performances was released in 2006 which contained a 26 minute Channel One Suite.

Best known as a Slingerland Radio King performer and endorser, Buddy switched to Ludwig drums for much of the 1970s to the early 1980s. While recovering from a heart attack in 1959, Rich was presented with an original Slingerland Radio King 5X14 wood snare drum completely reconditioned by the Eames drum company. Later, a mismatched Radio King set was completely refurbished for Rich and he used that set right up to his death in 1987. His typical setup included a 14"X26" bass drum, 9"X13" mounted tom, two 16"X16" floor toms (although he rarely used the second tom where he would simply place a towel on the surface), and a 5"X14" snare drum. His cymbals were typically Zildjian consisting of standard 14" hi hats, 20" ride, either a 6" or 8" splash, two 18" crashes, and a 20" swish.

Although Rich was usually helpful and friendly, he had a short temper. While he threatened many times to fire members of his band, he seldom did so, and for the most part he lauded his band members during television and print interviews.

Buddy Rich held a black belt in karate, as mentioned in a CNN television interview with Larry King, c. 1985.

In an episode of Michael Parkinson's British talk show, Parkinson kidded Rich about his Donny Osmond kick, by claiming that Rich was the president of The Osmonds' fan club. Reportedly, prior to heart surgery, when asked by a nurse if he was allergic to anything; he replied, "Yes, Country and Western music!"

1917 - Buddy Rich was born in Brooklyn NY.

1919 - At the tender age of 18 months, he was already featured in his parent's Vaudeville act
Wilson & Rich.

1921 - Buddy Rich made his Broardway debut in Raymond Hitchcock's pinwheel.

1923 - Buddy went with his parents to Australia where for 18 months, he presented a solo act
Traps The Drum Wonder

1928 - By the age of 11, Buddy Rich was the second highest paid child star in the world, after
Jackie Coogan, and he toured throughout the United States with his own showband.

1931 - His parents retired from Vaudeville and the Rich family settled in Brooklyn where
Buddy soon became a part of the flourishing New York jazz scene of the 1930's.

1938 - Buddy Rich's jazz career began seriously at the Hickory House in New York, where he
played with Joe Marsala.

1939 - Rich worked with Bunny Bergian and Artie Shaw.

1939-42 - Featured with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra before joining the U.S Marines.

1945-46 - Buddy Rich rejoined the Dorsey Orchestra and, by then, he was not only the
highest paid sideman in the world but indisputably regarded as the greatest drummer of his day.

1946 - Buddy Rich decided to form his own big band with excellent arrangements by writers
like Tadd Dameron and fine soloists like Zoot Sims, Al Kohn, Tony Scott and Johnny Mandell.

1947 - By this time the great days of the Big Band era were drawing to a close and Buddy
Rich decided to accept an offer from Norman Granz to join Jazz At The Philharmonic.
Between tours all over the world with JATP, Rich was one of the leading figures in the New
York Jazz scene, where he worked and recorded with pioneering bop musicians like Charlie
Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonius Monk , Al Haig, Dexter Gordon, and many other great jazz

1950's - Buddy Rich worked alternately with the Harry James and Tommy Dorsey Orchestra.

1961 - Back with the Harry James band and once again the driving force behind this excellent

1966 - Buddy Rich decided to take the plunge and form his own big band. He assembled
some of the leading players of the day, like Gene Quill and Pepper Adams. Over the next few
years, the personnel of the Rich Orchestra included outstanding musicians like Don Menza, Art
Pepper, Al Porcine, Pat LaBarbera and Steve Marcus.

1967 - Jackie Gleason selected the Buddy Rich Orchestra to feature on his summer TV series.
During the autumn, he toured with Frank Sinatra.

70's - 80's -Buddy Rich continued lead his big band, except for a brief spell in 1974 when he
formed a small group (featuring Sal Nistico, Sonny Fortune, Joe romano, Jack Wilkins, Kenny
Baron, and John Bunch) at a club he opened in New York called Buddy's Place.

1987 - Buddy continued to tour with his big band until his death on April the 2nd 1987.
Source: Drummers Unlimited
Buddy"s Life by Year: