Bill Bruford: Saying ‘I’m a Drummer’ is a Dangerous Privilege (1982)

SKF NOTE: This excerpt provides a look back at two views of the new LinnDrum which was brand new on the market in 1982, the year this Bill Bruford interview took place.

Bill Bruford was familiar with the Linn from his own use and from his network of musicians and music industry people.

As managing editor of Modern Drummer magazine at the time, I was hearing pros-and-cons from the same type of people, including MD readers.

Drummers’ big concern over the Linn was that it would put them out of work. Why hire an expensive human drummer when you can get what you want out of a drum machine?

Of course, as Bill Bruford and I discuss, if a drummer is really worried about being replaced by a LinnDrum, then it’s up to the drummer to rise to that challenge. “You can’t out-Linn a Linn,” says Bill Bruford, relating here ways in which he likes to use the Linn, and ways drummers can position themselves to be reasonably sure of work in the future.

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Bill Bruford – Using Hybrid Acoustic Simmons Drumset with King Crimson

SKF NOTE: I never met Bill Bruford in person. Our 1983 Modern Drummer interview was by phone. It was one of my rare MD interviews for which I wish I had been better prepared. Not that I was careless in setting out to interview Mr. Bruford. Once he and I were into the interview, I realized I was ill-prepared in a couple of areas. Most of all, I was woefully ignorant about Simmons drums.

I was aware of electronic drums. The first drummer to use electronic drums that I know of was Michael Shrieve. Maybe Syndrums? When I interviewed Bruford, I started out thinking of electronic drums as producing that early Star Wars laser gun effect – and nothing more. According to Wikepedia, Simmons introduced sound sampling in 1983.

I didn’t understand, really, sound sampling or the variety of sounds available with the latest Simmons drums. Bruford was, at the time, a member of King Crimson. The band’s latest albums were Discipline and Beat – which I studied prior to the interview. I confessed to Bruford in that MD interview, “Having no earlier audio reference, when I listened to Discipline and Beat, I didn’t hear anything that jumped out as sounding like the Simmons kit.”

In other words, I didn’t know how Simmons drums should sound.

Missing from the printed version of our interview is the silence following my confession. It lasted about five seconds, but felt as if it lasted five hours. Bill was very gracious in his response, and throughout the interview. But it was clear to us both: he was an electronic drum pioneer, and I was… woefully ignorant!

Rather than freaking out, I knew my Simmons ignorance put me with the majority of drummers. Why not use it as an opportunity? Which I did. For part of the Bruford interview I tailored my questions as a student speaking to a teacher. That gave me – and everyone else reading the interview – the pleasure of receiving Bill Bruford’s introductory to Simmons drums.



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Artimus Pyle Describes Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash, Rescue (1982)

SKF NOTE: I don’t have much to add to my written introduction to Artimus Pyle‘s Modern Drummer interview published in April 1983. This excerpt and the other Artimus Pyle excerpts on this blog are part of my interview with Art on June 23, 1982.

I didn’t ask Artimus about the Lynyrd Skynyrd plane crash. He was talking about automobile and motorcycle accidents from which he’d recovered. I was amazed he could have survived all that. “Did you ever wonder if maybe God’s trying to tell you something like, ‘Don’t call Me, I’ll call you?'”

In answering my question, Art spoke about the the Lynyrd Skynyrd plane crash, his role in the rescue, and one reason he thinks he survived.

Paul T. Riddle was rightfully credited in MD as co-interviewer. His friendship and history with Artimus were invaluable to this conversation. I’m sure Paul’s presence helped Art feel more relaxed during this interview. And Paul and Art could ask talk about subjects familiar to them, not me.

We three were sitting outdoors, on a sunny day, at a small circular table, probably somewhere in New Jersey at either Artimus’s hotel or at a nearby restaurant.

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Grieving Family Offers $2,000 for Return of Deceased Son’s Stolen Drumset


SKF NOTE: A sad state of affairs. No joy, no music will ever come from this drumset until it is returned to the Serna family and, ultimately, to the 13-year old boy who must be missing his father very much.

Thank you in advance to the person reading this blog post who helps solve this mystery.


Family offers reward for return of stolen drum set left behind by deceased relative
Aug 21, 2018
By Kate Nadolski

ALMA, MI (WNEM) – A family is pleading for the return of a beloved item.

The drum set was all that an Alma man left behind for his family when he died two weeks ago. The set was stolen just days after burying him.

“Kick you while you’re down. That’s how we feel,” said Rhonda Townsend, Ryan Serna’s sister.

She lost her brother to suicide about two weeks ago.

“We buried him on Friday and I get a call on Monday that someone broke into his garage and stole his drums,” Townsend said.

She is talking about a red Pearl brand drum set.

Ryan’s last wish was for the drums to be passed down to his 13-year-old son Riley.

The family…believe the thief knew Ryan, knew the drums were in the garage and knew Ryan had recently passed away.

The family [is] offering a $2,000 reward for anyone who can help find the drum set.

Full story

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Freddie Gruber – Greatest Disservice: Drum Teacher to Student

SKF NOTE: Here’s the back story on my interview with Freddie Gruber.

In this part of the interview I ask Freddie, “What do you think is the greatest disservice a teacher can do to a drum student?” And Freddie gives a direct answer.

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James Black on his Drums, Cymbals, Tuning

SKF NOTE: The full back story on this interview is posted on my blog here.

James Black is speaking here from his New Orleans home. I was in my Modern Drummer office. In this excerpt Mr. Black is answering my questions about this 1960s vintage Rogers drumset, his cymbals, and his drum tuning preferences.

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James Black on Playing Brushes

SKF NOTE: The full back story on this interview is posted on my blog here.

In brief, my James Black interview appeared in the December 1982 Modern Drummer. The first person to get me excited about James Black’s drumming was Jaimoe.

Later, Jim Keltner called me from New Orleans where he was touring with Bob Dylan. Jim said James Black was one of the first persons he called when he was there. James attended the Dylan concert, then he and Jim stayed up until the wee hours talking drums.

James tended to give brief first answers to my questions. I would wait for James to finish his thought. Then I would ask for a more detailed answer.

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