Fred Below: No Practicing Drums in the House Until You Could Play

SKF NOTE: This is the second excerpt from my interview with drummer Fred Below, arguably the father of Chicago electric blues drumming. Mr. Below recorded with Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson, the Aces, Little Walter, Chuck Berry, and other pivotal blues musicians.  The interview was published in Modern Drummer‘s September 9, 1983 issue as, “Fred Below: Magic Maker.”

I was at my MD desk in New Jersey using a suction cup mic and an audio cassette to record this interview. Mr. Below was at his Chicago home.

This is Fred Below talking about starting out playing on a practice pad. After graduating DuSable High School in 1944 Mr. Below went into the U.S. Army infantry. He practiced on helmets, boxes, and other things. Eventually, at Fort McClellan in Alabama, Mr. Below met jazz bassist Tommy Potter and saxophonist Lester Young and had opportunities to play music with them.

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