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Buddy Rich

From Academic Kids

Bernard (Buddy) Rich (September 30 1917April 2 1987) was an American jazz drummer and bandleader. Rich was billed as the world's greatest drummer (a billing many consider to be fair), and was known for his technique, speed, and ability to improvise.

He was born in Brooklyn, NY, USA on either June 30 or September 30, 1917. Various biographies differ as to the date. He began playing drums in vaudeville when he was 18 months old, billed as Traps the Drum Wonder. At eleven he was performing as a bandleader. He received no professional drum instruction. In 1937 he entered jazz with Joe Marsala's group, then played with Bunny Berigan (1938), Artie Shaw (1939), Tommy Dorsey (1939–1942, 1945, 1954–1955), Benny Carter (1942), Harry James (1953–1956), Les Brown, Charlie Ventura, and Jazz at the Philharmonic, as well as leading his own band and performing with all-star groups. For most of the period from 1966 until his death, he led a successful big band in an era when big bands were nowhere nearly as popular as they'd been in the 1930's and 40's.

Always a perfectionist, Buddy was known to have a bad temper. Between gigs, he was notorious for screaming at band members on the tour bus, to the point where band members began surreptitiously tape-recording his outbursts. On one occasion, he got so angry at trombonist David Peneke that he fired him right on the bus -- going so far as to order the bus to pull over to drop him off right there on the highway. However, Buddy's outrageous temper was overlooked by most because of his undeniable skill as a musician and his reputation for being very accommodating for his fans.

Buddy Rich died April 2, 1987. Reportedly, his last words (replying to a nurse, who asked if anything was bothering him) were: "Yes ... country music!" He is interred in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles, California.

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