Travis Brant | American Drummer & Composer

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Who Was Buddy Rich

Who was Buddy Rich

Buddy Rich was a legendary jazz drummer who had a career that spanned over 70 years. He was born on September 30, 1917, in New York City and began playing drums at the age of two. He was a child prodigy and by the age of four, he was already performing in vaudeville shows with his parents.

Rich's professional career began at the age of 18, when he joined the band of drummer Joe Marsala. He quickly made a name for himself as a virtuoso drummer, and in the following years, he played with some of the biggest names in jazz, including Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, and Harry James.

In the 1940s, Rich formed his own band, which quickly became one of the most popular and successful big bands of the era. He led the band for over four decades, and it was known for its high-energy performances and its virtuosic musicians. Rich's band was also known for its relentless touring schedule, and they performed hundreds of shows each year.

Throughout his career, Rich was known for his incredible speed, precision, and power on the drums. He was also known for his ability to play a wide range of styles, from swing and bebop to funk and fusion. He was considered one of the greatest drummers of all time, and his influence can be heard in the playing of countless drummers who came after him.

In addition to his work as a drummer, Rich was also an accomplished bandleader and arranger. He wrote many of the charts for his band and was known for his ability to bring out the best in his musicians. He was also a gifted teacher and mentor, and he passed on his knowledge and experience to countless young drummers.

Despite his success, Rich had a reputation for being a demanding bandleader who could be difficult to work with. He was known for his fiery temper, and he could be quite critical of his musicians. However, he was also deeply respected by his bandmates and many of them remained loyal to him throughout his career.

Who was Buddy Rich
Legendary drummer Buddy Rich

Rich's health began to decline in the 1980s, and he was forced to retire from performing in 1986. He died on April 2, 1987, at the age of 69. Despite his death, his legacy lives on through his music, and he continues to be remembered as one of the greatest drummers of all time.

Buddy Rich's life was a shining example of a true musician who dedicated his life to the art of drumming and band leading, his virtuosity, speed, precision and power on the drums, and his ability to play a wide range of styles, made him one of the greatest drummers of all time. His influence can still be heard in the playing of countless drummers who came after him. His legacy will live forever through his music and his teachings. He will always be remembered as a true legend of jazz drumming.


The following is a partial discography showcasing Buddy Rich's work as a leader / co-leader.

1946: The Lester Young Buddy Rich Trio with Lester Young (Norgran, 1955)
1952–53: The Flip Phillips Buddy Rich Trio (Clef, 1953)
1953–54: The Swinging Buddy Rich (Norgran, 1954)
1955: Sing and Swing with Buddy Rich (Norgran, 1955)
1955: Buddy and Sweets (Norgran, 1955)
1955: The Wailing Buddy Rich (Norgran, 1955)
1955: Krupa and Rich (Clef, 1956)
1955: The Lionel Hampton Art Tatum Buddy Rich Trio (Clef, 1955)
1956: Buddy Rich Sings Johnny Mercer (Verve, 1956)
1956: This One's for Basie (Verve, 1957) – re-issued as Big Band Shout (1967)[3]
1957: Buddy Rich Just Sings (Verve, 1957)
1957: Buddy Rich in Miami (Verve, 1958) – live
1959: Richcraft (Mercury, 1959) – also The Rich Rebellion (Wing)
1959: Rich Versus Roach (Mercury, 1959)
1959: The Voice is Rich (Mercury, 1959)
1960: The Driver (EmArcy, 1960)
1960: Playtime (Argo, 1961)
1961: Blues Caravan (Verve, 1962)
1962: Burnin' Beat with Gene Krupa (Verve, 1962)
1965: Are You Ready for This? (Roost, 1971)
1966: Swingin' New Big Band (Pacific Jazz/Liberty, 1966) – live
1966: The Sounds of '66 with Sammy Davis, Jr. (Reprise, 1966) – live
1967: Big Swing Face (Pacific Jazz, 1967) – live
1967: The New One! (Pacific Jazz, 1968) – a.k.a. Take it Away in UK
1968: Rich à la Rakha (World Pacific, 1968)
1968: Mercy, Mercy (Pacific Jazz, 1968) – live recorded at Caesars Palace
1969: Buddy & Soul (Pacific Jazz, 1969) – live recorded at the Whisky a Go Go
1970: Keep the Customer Satisfied (Liberty, 1970) – live
1971: A Different Drummer (RCA, 1971) – a.k.a. Superstar in UK
1971: Rich in London (RCA, 1972) – live. expanded UK release – Buddy Rich: Very Alive at Ronnie Scott's (RCA (UK)).
1971: Conversations (EMI-Parlophone, 1972)
1972: Stick It (RCA, 1972)
1973: The Roar of '74 (Groove Merchant, 1974)
1974: Very Live at Buddy's Place (Groove Merchant, 1974) – live
1974: Transition with Lionel Hampton (Groove Merchant, 1974)
1974: The Last Blues Album Volume 1 (Groove Merchant, 1974)
1975?: Big Band Machine (Groove Merchant, 1975)
1976?: Speak No Evil (RCA, 1976)
1977?: Buddy Rich Plays and Plays and Plays (RCA, 1977)
1977: Lionel Hampton Presents Buddy Rich (Who's Who in Jazz, 1977) – a.k.a. Buddy's Cherokee... also released as The Sound of Jazz, Vol 10
1977: Class of '78 (The Great American Gramophone Company, 1977) – also released as The Greatest Drummer That Ever Lived with "The Best Band I Ever Had" (1990)
1978: Together Again: For the First Time with Mel Tormé (Gryphon/Century, 1978) – a.k.a. When I Found You (1999)
1980: Live at Ronnie Scott's (DRG, 1980) – live at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club. a.k.a. The Man from Planet Jazz
1981?: Buddy Rich Band (MCA, 1981)
1982: Live at the 1982 Montreal Jazz Festival (Hudson Music, 1982)[DVD-Video +CD] – live
1983?: Rich and Famous (Amway, 1983) – a.k.a. The Magic of Buddy Rich, a.k.a. Buddy Rich – The Man
1985: Mr. Drums: ... Live on King Street, San Francisco (Cafe, 1986)[3LP] – live