Above is video clip of a drum solo by legendary jazz drummer & band leader Buddy Rich. As witnessed by this amazingly superfast drum solo, it is no surprise that Rich, who died back in 1987 at age 69, is still revered the world over by drummers and fans of drumming for his swift skills. In fact, back in his day he was commonly billed as "the world's greatest drummer." He is also one of the fastest, most skilled drummers of all time and got honored by Drum magazine for the "fastest drum solo ever" specifically for the song "Machine" off his 1967 album Big Swing Face.
And talk about taking to the drum at an early age! Reportedly Rich was just two years old when his father, who first noticed his baby son's keen sense of rhythm, enlisted (exploited?) him in vaudeville playing the drums, billing him as "Traps the Drum Wonder" and as such he was an extremely successful young artist. In fact by the time he reached the ripe old age of 11 he was already a band leader. Unlike a lot of child stars Rich didn't quit or burn out but rather continued playing throughout his teens, consistently honing his style and getting better and better at his art. It has been written that Rich is one of the few drummers to ever master the so-called "one-handed roll" on both hands.
It wasn't until he was twenty that Rich started playing jazz, when he joined Joe Marsala's group. This was followed by stints in many other bands with the likes of Artie Shaw, Tommy Dorsey, Harry James, Benny Carter, and Les Brown, among others. He also played with Frank Sinatra, who would have a major impact on his career after, in brief passing, he mentioned to ole blue eyes that he was thinking of starting his own band. With that, the story goes, Sinatra whipped out his check book, wrote a check for $40,000 (that was a lot of money back in the forties) and said something like "This should get you started!"
Despite his illustrious career, numerous recordings, and countless concerts, this highly admired drummer is probably most widely remembered for his appearance on The Muppet Show when he accepts a challenge to battle (on the drums) the character Animal.
In this 1981 television show recording, Rich naturally beats Animal and wins the battle. But his defeated opponent isn't a good loser -- as you can see at the very end of the great video clip below.
Look for Buddy RIch's legacy at Amoeba Music, not just on CD and vinyl but also in the DVD section.