Buddy Rich: Navigating Strange Drumsets

SKF NOTE: Following up a clip posted where guitarist Les Paul is telling a club audience of the time Buddy Rich told Les he, Buddy, was going to get a guitar, become a folksinger, and give up drums. Here’s another clip, from Brett Rosenberg, Buddy Rich on In Melbourne Tonight, where Buddy performs mostly as a standup singer.

The segment closes when stage hands roll out onstage a drumset. Buddy sits down, counts off an uptempo riff blues, and away he goes. Buddy’s ability to sit down, burn, and navigate strange drumsets always impressed me, especially his adapting to strange snare drums.

This Melbourne Tonight clip is a case in point. The drums, I think, are Premier. To cut down on travel costs in those days, drummers sometimes traveled with their cymbals and maybe their own snare. Drummers also toured and made arrangements to use drums and cymbals along the way. (Here’s a post about Jimmy Madison rescuing a touring Joe Morello from a substandard snare drum.)

Buddy seems slightly uncomfortable with this snare drum tuning. (Buddy would say “tensioning.”) He’s also missing his two crash cymbals — which works to the advantage of drummers watching this performance. Both the overhead and side cameras provide fascinating closeups of Buddy’s hands, arms, and body motion.

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