SKF NOTE: Fred Below was always on my short list of drummers to interview, who, as far as I knew, had never shared their stories for posterity. My first chance to right that wrong came while I was at Modern Drummer. The short version of how this interview happened is posted here.
In this part of our interview, Fred Below was answering my question about drummers backing singers. One of Mr. Below’s trademarks is his ability to, using his own word, “blend” with other band members. In answering my question, Below gives a mini-history of drummers working with popular music groups. First, he says, popular vocal groups like The Mills Brothers, relied strictly on a “strong guitar” for rhythm. When these vocal groups recorded with drummers — it was an adjustment for everyone.
Later on, Below recalls, small rhythm sections became part of Rhythm & Blues groups, and then Rock ‘n Roll bands.