Keep Drumming History Alive

Edited page from the transcript of my Fred Gruber interview.

SKF NOTE: Several decades ago there emerged political activists who said the teaching of US history prior to 1950 was irrelevant to modern students. Pre-1950 US history, they said, didn’t matter. If taught in classrooms at all, protested the activists, pre-1950 US history deserved brief mention.

I am not aware of any public calls to limit or ban teaching drum history prior to any past decade. But I am concerned, as time goes on, fewer young drummers will care about the development of the drumset; of the people who gave us the modern drumset, and the the language we use to play it.

Sometimes, in my darker moods, after spending hours reviewing my 1980s drummer interview tapes for excerpts to post, I think, “Does anybody care about this drummer or what he has to say about anything?”

But that’s not the point of preserving drum history. Maybe at the moment I’m digitizing an interview excerpt nobody does care about the drummer interviewed or what he has to say.

That’s not to say no one will ever care.

Plenty of times while researching for a writing project, I have spotted a jewel of information, a significant fact, buried in some obscure album or concert review, a letter-to-the-editor; an old drummer profile, or a decades old magazine editorial. It is, in a way, finding a missing piece that completes a jigsaw puzzle.

Perhaps it has always been the case that the percentage of drummers interested in drum history is small. Surely there is room for more. Until then, I trust those drummers interested now are sufficient to keep the history alive and moving forward.

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