Artimus Pyle – How He Got the Lynyrd Skynyrd Gig (1982) 

SKF NOTE: In this second excerpt from Artimus Pyle’s June 23, 1982 interview for Modern Drummer, Artimus and Paul T. Riddle tell how, around 1972-1973, Artimus – with help from Marshall Tucker Band members, Charlie Daniels, and others who believed in him – helped him get an audition with Lynyrd Skynyrd. From there, Pyle’s personality and drumming skills secured him the gig.

The first voice heard is Artimus Pyle. Paul T. Riddle’s is the second voice. My voice is the third.

The photo of Artimus seated behind his yellow drumset was taken the day of this interview.

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Who Cares About Drum History?


SKF NOTE: There will always be drummers interested in drum history, and drummers who aren’t interested. That’s my conclusion after years concerned the who-cares-about-drum-history? side would bury the we-care-about-drum-history side.

Based on my experience, if the former prevails, important pieces of drum history won’t be preserved. Pieces of history considered old today will be ignored or, even worse, trashed. And once a piece of unique history is trashed — a letter, a photo, an autograph, a tape recording —it’s gone forever.

Just in the last decade or so a number of important albums were released because someone discovered or remembered old tape reels on a shelf or in a box. Here are three examples:

Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall
John Coltrane Quartet Live at the Half Note: One Down, One Up
Charles Mingus Jazz in Detroit / Strata Concert Gallery / 46 Selden

When the “who cares?” attitude prevails, today’s opportunities to hang onto historical drum artifacts and memories pass unattended.

In my life I’ve rescued excellent out-of-print albums from Goodwill and Salvation Army stores. When asked to reuse (tape over) my Modern Drummer interview cassettes, I kept them instead. From then on I bought my own blank cassettes to use for interviews.

The internet has become an amazing source of historic drum memorabilia. Free or very inexpensive platforms give drum fans — from novices to experts — a place to share all kinds of interesting drum memorabilia.

Some of my favorite web places for drum history are:

Four on the Floor
The Jo Jones Group
The Great Drummers Group

I am optimistic, right now, the preservation of drum history is alive and well. And I am hopeful, yet not fully convinced, a majority of up-and-coming drummers are taking advantage of this wealth of available information.

Have a majority of up-and-coming drummers ever taken advantage of available historic information? I don’t know. My best guess? Up-and-coming drummers with deep interest in drum history have always been a minority. A very dedicated minority.

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RIP Chester B. Fish Jr.


RIP Chester B. Fish Jr.
Scott K. Fish, Special to the Piscataquis Observer • March 30, 2019

My dad died six hours ago. His name was Chester B. Fish, Jr. At age 93, dad outlived my mom by two years. And among his parents and two brothers, dad was the last man standing.

Had you asked me if I have any of my father’s mannerisms, I would have answered an honest “no.” Then in 2003, as a part-time panelist on Maine Public Broadcasting’s “Public Opinion” tv show, I was shocked to see myself with my father’s facial expressions and body language.

Of his five children, I am the only one to follow in his journalism footsteps. Although that never crossed my mind until my mom mentioned it years ago when I was Modern Drummer magazine’s Managing Editor. My dad worked mostly as an Outdoor Life magazine editor, including as Editor-in-Chief.

Full story

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Will Calhoun – Drummers Studying Piano, Music Theory

SKF NOTE: Will Calhoun is among my favorite interviews. I am sorry it was never published. From reading my 1989 notes, this interview was meant to be published in Modern Drummer magazine‘s offshoot quarterly magazines — Modern Percussionist.

But before Will’s interview was published, Modern Percussionist ceased publication.

Will talks in this excerpt about two early influential teachers who encouraged him to add to his drumming a knowledge of keyboard and music theory.

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Hal Blaine – No Parties or Memorials When I Leave the Planet


SKF NOTE: This post is on Hal Blaine’s Facebook page.

Regarding funerals, memorials or celebrations, Hal said it better than we can. This is one of many emails he wrote along the same lines… and we will honor his wishes. —The Blaine family. Full post

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My 12 favorite drummers are Hal Blaine

My 12 favorite drummers are Hal Blaine
Scott K. Fish, Special to the Piscataquis Observer • March 16, 2019

Most of us know the sound of the 1960s. But very few of us can say we are a sound of the ‘60s. Drummer Hal Blaine, who died a few days ago at age 90, was one of those few. I worked with Hal (1980-83) when I was managing editor of Modern Drummer magazine.

In its obituary of Mr. Blaine, the New York Times describes him as “part of a loosely affiliated group of session musicians who in the early 1960s began dominating rock ’n’ roll recording in Los Angeles. Mr. Blaine played on thousands of recordings through the mid-1970s.”

Drummer Bruce Gary of The Knack said, “One of my biggest disappointments was finding out my twelve favorite drummers were Hal Blaine.”

What did Bruce Gary mean? // Full column

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Michael Shrieve – Musical Career Updater 1983

SKF NOTE: This exchange between Michael Shrieve and me, which survived on a cassette, shows how slow it was in 1983 for well-known drummers to get career updates to their fans on the page of a print magazine. In this case, Modern Drummer. Usually working three issues in varied states of readiness at one time, Michael Shrieve’s news would reach subscribers and the newsstands about 90-days after our conversation.

That’s not at all a criticism of MD. All print publications, pre-internet, were working under similar circumstances. Today updaters are posted 24/7/365 on blogs and social media.

Shrieve was quite busy when we spoke. His real or planned drumming activities included release of a jazz trio album, a solo percussion album; dates with Roger Hodgson, possibly Stomu Yamashta, Santana, and other projects.

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Tommy Aldridge – Not the Drummer on ‘Diary of a Madman’

SKF NOTE: This cassette, from my stint as Managing Editor at Modern Drummer, seems to have been a tape I used, circa 1982, for interview follow-ups with drummers. The tape has bits and pieces of different conversations and music.

Tommy Aldridge and I were speaking through a land line in my MD office. I was taping our conversation using my Radio Shack suction cup mic and an inexpensive cassette recorder. I had a few MD readers’ “Ask a Pro” column letters with questions for Tommy.

One reader wanted a second opinion on whether or not Tommy is the drummer on Ozzy Osbourne’s “Diary of a Madman” album. Tommy is, he says, not the “Madman” album drummer. Thirty-seven years after this conversation, this may be old news. But it is perhaps worthwhile to have Tommy Aldridge answering the question, in his own voice, for present and future reference.

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