Gary Chester: I Want to Live My Personal Life

SKF NOTE: The full Gary Chester Modern Drummer interview is available here. In my view, many Gary Chester words of wisdom, because of space considerations, were left out of the MD interview. Fortunately, I can share them here.


Gary Chester / Photo by Rick Mattingly

Gary ChesterPeople all over the world were very good to me, man. That makes you feel like King Kong. That makes you feel like you’re really something. But meantime, you ain’t nobody.

But, there are all walks of people who thrive on knowing you because you write for a paper, a magazine. Or knowing me because I was with Burt Bacharach.

I feel sorry for those poor bastards. They don’t realize. You’re doing your job, I’m doing mine.

Now I want to live my personal life. I went to visit one guy and he said to me, “Did you bring your drums?” I said, “No. You’re a garbage collector. Did you bring any garbage?”

Why don’t people realize that the only way this world would work is: you’ve got to have bridge builders, you’ve got to have people who build big buildings, you got to have plumbers. You’ve got to have everything in the world. And everybody that’s doing what they’re doing is helping you look better!

Scott K Fish: It’s scary when people start finding their identity as a drummer, instead of a human being who plays drums.

GC: That’s the word. That’s the whole word.

I’ve had hundreds of offers to be interviewed. Down Beat wanted to interview me. Cash Box wanted to interview me. Newsweek caught me in Long Island. I was in a swimming pool. Newsweek interviewed me for Burt Bacharach.

I had all the offers. But at a very young age I realized, “Hey, man. That’s what I do. That’s what I do best. And that’s a very private thing. That’s for me. Now leave me alone. Let me live my life.”

That’s why I live here [rural upstate New York]. I’ve been here eight years. It took people at least six to find out what I was doing. They thought I was with the Mafia. I’m always home. I’m mowing the lawn. I’m picking goldilocks. I’m planting my tomatoes.

“Don’t you ever work?” I said, “No.” In the other house I told everybody I was a mailman. I’d leave the house at six o’clock in the morning. As soon as they found out who I was I couldn’t get rid of them.


About Scott K Fish
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