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Buddy Rich
Neil Peart
John Bonham
Steve Gadd
Ringo Starr
Keith Moon
Carl Palmer
Gene Krupa
Max Roach
Elvin Jones
Ginger Baker
Billy Cobham
Stewart Copeland
Dennis Chambers
Jaki Leibezeit
Terry Bozzio
Bill Bruford
Hal Blaine
Mike Portnoy

Drummer Database

Buddy Rich

Name - Buddy | Born - 09/1917 | Nationality - American | Genre - Jazz

Buddy rocks

Buddy is widley regarded to be the greatest Jazz drummer of all time. That's a pretty amazing statement! But even more amazing is the fact that a lot of people consider him to the greatest drummer ever in any genre. When you see Buddy in action it's hard to argue.

With impeccable technique, taste and flair, Buddy took virtuosity on the drum set to a whole new level. He was the heart of many great bands such as the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra and his own the group The Buddy Rich Orchestra.

Perhaps the most memorable aspect of his playing were his truly outstanding drum solos that became a feature of his live performances.

Aside from his amazing talent, Buddy was known for his sometimes hot headed temper and his insistance on perfection when it came to music. He could be a sharp character at times, and had been known to shout at his band in an intense rage and threaten to fire them. But, he also entertained audiences with the lighter, more humourous side of his personality in tv interviews and during gigs.

Decades after his death, Buddy is still massively respected all over the world for his playing. Suprisingly he never had any formal training on the drum set, and later in his career he said that he never even practiced outside of live performances.

The huge list of names Buddy has played with includes Tommy Dorsey, Frank Sinatra, and Charlie Parker, to Dizzy Gillespie and Louis Armstrong. And there's the great music he produced with his own group too.

Drumming legend Gene Krupa once said that Buddy was "The greatest drummer ever to have drawn breath." Need I say more.


A selection of live perfomances, drum solos, drum battles, and interviews.


Buddy was born on september 30, 1917 in Brooklyn, New York to Bess and Robert Rich. His musical career started very early at the age of 1 when his father noticed his son's rhythmic ability when playing the spoons.


When he was a little older at 18 months, Buddy started to perform in the Wilson & Rich Vaudeville act alongside his parents.

With his parents guiding him, Buddy started to develop some technique, and a couple of years later he travelled with them to Australia where he performed as a solo act. He was billed as 'Traps the Drum Wonder'.

His progression as a performer picked up pace rapidly as he was playing night after night. By the age of 11, he was a remarkable talent who was now touring the United States as bandleader with his own showband. At the height of his childhood career, Buddy was reported to be the second highest paid child star in the world, earning $1000 a week.

Buddy had achieved so much at a young age, due in no small part to a little known fact that only came to light after his death - Buddy was beaten by his father as a child. Buddy's brother and sisters believed that this had a huge influence on him, and in part molded him into the driven, difficult, and sometimes very bad tempered man he later became.

By 1931, Buddy's parents retired from Vaundeville and the family settled in Brooklyn, New York. Here Buddy soon became a part of the active Jazz scene, and started playing with many of the local musicians. Buddy has said that some of his influences at the time included Gene Krupa, Chick Webb, Jo Jones, and Dave Tough. He has commented how they all had there own style, and how this had influenced him to find his own playing style.


Buddy's career as a Jazz drummer started seriously in 1937 when he took the drum seat in Joe Marsala's group playing at the Hickory House in New York.

A year later in 1938 he played with Bunny Berigan, and then Artie Shaw in 1939. His playing skills where already astounding, but the experience he gained over these years helped further craft Buddy into a Jazz powerhouse.

Late on in 1939, Buddy joined the hugley popular Tommy Dorsey Orchestra where he stayed for 3 years until 1942. Buddy was featured in the band along with a young singer called Frank Sinatra.

They were both big personalities and apparently clashed many times, but they still became very good friends, and even roomed together on tour.

Buddy also made it to the big screen in 1939, appearing in the movie Symphony of Swing. During 1942 after leaving Tommy Dorsey, Buddy went on to play with Benny Carter for a while, and appeared in another movie Ship Ahoy. He also appeared in the movie How's About It in 1943.

However, later on in 1943, Buddy gave up his performing career and went into the US Marines Corp where he served just two years before being discharged for medical reasons. On his return in 1945, Buddy picked up were he left off and rejoined the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, having further success with the group. By now Buddy was the highest paid sideman in the world and was undisputably the greatest drummer of his time.


Buddy continued to perform with Tommy Dorsey until 1946, when he decided to form his own big band. Allegedly, a year or so earlier at the Paramount Theater, Buddy had mentioned to Frank Sinatra that he was thinking of starting his own band. So, Frank wrote him a check for $40,000 and said "Good luck. This'll get you started".

Some of the musical arrangements for Buddy's band were written by Tadd Dameron, and the band included excellent soloists like Tony Scott, Al Kohn, Zoot Sims, and Johnny Mandell. The band performed with Buddy as the main attraction, impressing audiences with his phenomenal solos and swinging grooves.

Unfortunately, the group didn't last though, not because anyone left or they weren't any good, but because of money problems. As Buddy put it, "In two years, I was flat broke.", but he also said "[the band] went down swinging and it went down in one piece."

By 1947, the popularity of big band music was starting to decline, so Buddy accepted an offer from Norman Granz to join Jazz at the Philharmonic. Performances with the group were renowned for there 'drum battles' were two drummers would try and out play each other. Buddy didn't like to lose and won most of the time.

He toured with the group all over the world, but also found time in between tours to work and record with pioneering bop musicians such as Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonius Monk, Al Haig, Dexter Gordon, and more.

Throughout the 1950's, Buddy performed alternately with The Harry James Band and The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. He also tried again in 1950 to start his own band, but failed again. In 1957, he put his singing talent to good use and released an album, but he never really pursued a singing career seriously. Towards the end of the decade in 1959, Buddy had some health problems and suffered a heart attack, but this didn't stop him for long and he was playing again after a short break. Unfortunately, his heart condition would cause him problems again in the future.


During the early 1960's, Buddy went back to perform with the excellent Harry James Band untill 1965. And in 1966, He decided to form his own big band again - The Buddy Orchestra.

This time, against the odds, he suceeded. The group embarked on huge tours and had great success during a time when big band music wasn't particularly popular.

Bands like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and, The Beach Boys were the 'In' thing, but Buddy's group still had sell out tours all the way up until his death in the late 1980's.

In 1967, Buddy's orchestra appeared on Jackie Gleason's summer TV series which gave them even greater exposure, and Buddy also toured with his old friend Frank Sinatra in the autumn of that year.

During 1968, The Orchestra recorded two of their best albums - Take It Away and Mercy, Mercy. Buddy was really on fire now that he had his own band and could do things his way. Combined with the superb performance of his orchestra, the result was some fantastic music.

Through the 1970's, Buddy's group continued to go from strength to strength recording albums and touring the world. Buddy also continued to be a popular, in-demand character and he made many appearances as a guest on talk shows like the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Audiences loved his quick wit and awkward humour, as well as his spectacular performances.


In 1971, Buddy signed a record deal with RCA and went on to record some Jazz-Rock style albums which showed his ability as a rock/fusion player too.

A few years later in 1974, he took a break from playing and opened his own club in New York - Buddy's Place. He formed a small group who played there briefly, before he continued to play with The Buddy Orchestra.

During the 1980's, Buddy carried on touring and releasing albums, but he was now in his 60's. In 1983, he suffered another serious heart attack which resulted in him having open heart surgery. He was not about to call it a day though, and after two months he was back on the road again.

Buddy pushed himself and toured for 4 more years, but in 1987, he was taken into hospital to have a malignant brain tumor surgically removed. Sadly on April 2nd at age 70, he died from a heart attack after the surgery. He was interred in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles, California.

From the time he was old enough to hold drum sticks, Buddy amazed people all over the world with his talent, right up until his death. He is regarded as one of very best drummers the world has ever seen, if not the greatest drummer of all time. He has been recognised and celebrated by many world class players past and present, and years later, he is still a much loved and respected musician.


Following his death, there have been many memorial concerts held in his honour, one of the most notable being the Buddy Memorial Concert held in 1989.

Some of the world's best drummers performed including Neil Peart, Dennis Chambers, Dave Weckl, Steve Gadd, Louie Bellson, Gregg Bissonette, Vinnie Colaiuta, Marvin 'Smitty' Smith, Steve Smith, Omar Hakim and Will Calhoun.

Other tributes include the album Burning for Buddy, and awards such as the The Downbeat Magazine Hall of Fame Award, the Modern Drummer Magazine Hall of Fame Award, and the Jazz Unlimited Immortals of Jazz Award.

Buddy was a truly great talent, a great character, and a master of his craft. He is one of history's greatest ever musicians.


Drums - Various, but mostly Slingerland | Cymbals - Zildjian

drum set up

Buddy Rich's set-up changed very little throughout his career. The drum sizes generally stayed the same but the brand of kit he used changed a few times. The brands included Vox, Rogers, Ludwig, and most commonly Slingerland.

The set included a 24"x14" bass drum, 13"x9" tom mounted on a 'Set-O-Matic' holder, two 16"x16" floor toms, a 14"x5" Fibes snare drum, a chrome cowbell, and a Ludwig Speed King bass drum pedal with a wooden beater.

Buddy used Zildjian cymbals including 14" New Beat hi-hats (medium top, heavy bottom), 18" thin crash, 18" medium thin crash, 8" splash, and a 20" medium ride. Towards the end of his career he also added a 22" swish cymbal on the far right hand side.


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Selected Discography

* Swinging Count (1952)

* Buddy Swinging (1954)

* Swingin' Buddy (1955)

* Buddy And Sweets (1955)

* Hampton-Tatum-Rich Trio (1955)

* Sing And Swing With Buddy (1955)

* Wailing Buddy (1955)

* This One's For Basie (1956)

* Just Sings (1957)

* Rich Versus Roach (1959)

* Richcraft (1959)

* Voice Is Rich (1959)

* Blues Caravan (1961)

* Playmates (1961)

* Swingin' New Band (1966)

* Big Band Shout (1967)

* Big Swing Face (1967)

* New One! (1967)

* Mercy, Mercy (1968)

* Rich Ala Rahka (1968)

* Buddy And Soul (1969)

* Super Rich (1969)

* Keep The Customer Satisfied (1970)

* Different Drummer (1971)

* Time Being (1972)

* Stick It (1972)

* Roar Of '74 (1973)

* Last Blues Album, Vol 1 (1974)

* Transition (1974)

* Big Band Machine (1975)

* Speak No Evil (1976)

* Class OF '78 (1977)

* Europe '77 (1977)

* Lionel Hampton Presents... (1977)

* Sound Of Jazz (1977)

* Mr. Drums (1978)

* Zoot Sims: Air Mail Special (1978)

* No Jive (1979)

* Live At Ronnie Scott's (1980)

* Tuff Dude (1984)

* Groove Merchant (1990)

* Rags To Riches (1991)

* At The Hollywood Palladium (2000)

* Poor Little Rich Bud (2002)

* Live Concert Form Buddy's Place (2004)

* No Funny Hats (2004)

* Man From Planet Jazz (2007)

* Time Out (2007)

Books and Dvd's

* Modern Interpretation Of The Snare Drum Rudiments (Book)

* The Torment Of Buddy: A Biography (Book)

* The Lost Tapes: Buddy (Dvd)

* Buddy Rich Memorial Concert (Dvd)

* Jazz Legend: Buddy (Dvd)

* Classic Drum Solos And Drum Battles (Dvd)

* Traps: The Drum Wonder (Book)

* Jazz Icons: Buddy Live in '78 (Dvd)

* Buddy Live At The 1982 Montreal Jazz Festival (Dvd)

* Buddy At The Top (Dvd)

* The Making Of Burning For Buddy (Dvd)

* A Salute To Buddy (Dvd)

Buddy Has Played With...

* Louis Armstrong

* Count Basie

* Dorsey Brothers

* Tommy Dorsey

* Frank Sinatra

* Roy Eldridge

* Duke Ellington

* Bunny Berigan

* Norman Granz

* Herb Ellis

* Flip Phillips

* Bill Reddie

* Don Piestrup

* Oliver Nelson

* Irving Berlin

* Benny Carter

* Nat King Cole

* Miles Davis

* Ella Fitzgerald

* Helen Forrest

* Stan Getz

* Dizzy Gillespie

* Benny Goodman

* Dusty Springfield

* Max Roach

* Peppe merolla

* Maynard Ferguson

* Lionel Hampton

* Woody Herman

* Harry James

* Stan Kenton

* Gene Krupa

* Billy Kyle

* Kpe arsaöa

* Jimmy McGriff

* The Metronome All-Stars

* The Original Mambo Kings

* Charlie Parker

* Art Pepper

* Teddy Wilson

* Lester Young

* Ray Brown

* George Arus

* Barney Kessel

* Oscar Peterson

* Charlie Shavers

* Artie Shaw

* Bud Powell

* Mel Tormé

* Art Tatum

* Sid Weiss

* Louie Bellson

* Al Gray

* And More...



"Almost everything I've done, I've done through my own creativity. I don't think I ever had to listen to anyone else to learn how to play drums. I wish I could say that for about ten thousand other drummers."

"As far as music school goes. I walked through Berkeley one time to visit with some people I know."

"I think it's a fallacy that the harder you practice the better you get."

"I have the worst temper in the world. When I lose it...oh baby!"

"I consider every drummer that ever played before me an influence, in every way. There were so many individual styles thirty or forty years ago (in the 30's and 40's). Every drummer that had a name, had a name because of his individual playing. He didn't sound like anybody else, So everybody that I ever listened to, in some form, influenced my taste."

"There are only two types of music. Good and bad."

"If you have any requests. Keep them to yourselves. We don't play requests!"

"If you can play, you can play anything. I don't like classifications."

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"Meeting" Buddy Rich 
It was 1968, I had just finished my drum lesson with Henry Adler. I would hang out at Henry's drum shop after the lesson. Buddy Rich entered the store. …

My Love of Buddy Rich's Stage Presence 
I remember back when my bedtime may have been 8 or so, but whenever Buddy Rich was to appear on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, my parents would let …

Buddys Temperment and Getting High 
Back in 1977 Buddy Rich and his Band came to The Chateau de Ville Dinner Theater in East Windsor Ct. At that time I worked as Asst Manager/Bar Manager. …

Mr. Unique Individualist (Buddy Rich) Not rated yet
I was a drummer when I was was younger, and I gave it up (regrettably) when the last band I was in broke up, back in 1992. My single most greatest influence, …

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