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Buddy Rich, Disneyland 02 Sept 1986
Original poster image kindly supplied by Dave Brown
Original photos copyright Pete Merrett
Click drum for Buddy Rich
collection listing
Original work tour schedule copyright Jay Craig, Buddy’s baritone from 1984

From a musician  on the Florida West Coast.

Here is a COOL story about Buddy Rich and his band when I saw him on  tour about 25 years ago:
Just before his final number in the concert (about 2000 people were in the audience), a person from the seats yelled, "Hey Buddy, I challenge you to a drum duel!"  Half stunned, have amused, Buddy yelled back, "Well get your ass up here and give it your best shot."  The crowd went nuts, screaming all sorts of unkind things at this 20-something upstart who dared to insult Buddy. As he walked on stage, people were throwing programs at him and telling him to sit down and to make love with himself (or something to that effect).  Even the band members were showing their disgust with such behaviour by showing a collective "middle finger salute" as the challenger approached them.
Rich was un-fazed.  "OK, a--- hole, what's your problem", he said.  The guy spoke, "I challenge you to listen to what I play and then play it back, beat for beat! I bet you cannot do it."  While the audience
was now looking for torches to burn and a rope, Rich calmly said, "That's it? Go for it."
At that point, after some adjusting of the huge array of percussion equipment on stage, the challenger flailed away.  As he neared the end of about a 5 minute wild, pounding drum solo full of nearly impossible drumming strokes, cymbal work, etc., he finished with a long, slow, two stroke drum roll that ended in an absolutely perfect "buzz" roll that would have been the envy of even Haskell Harr (the famous drummer and method book author).  In near exhaustion, this guy finally
finishes, sweat pouring down and obviously elated with his work.  The crowd now went nuts for another reason.  This guy was GREAT.  Enter Rich.
Buddy looks at him smiling and says, "So I have to play exactly what you did, huh?  Even that roll at the end?"  "Yep," said the challenger.  "Fine" said Rich and at that point, he readjusted a few
cymbals and started.  Without a flinch, Rich began and flawlessly duplicated the entire solo, with the challenger looking over a score of it he brought with him to make certain Rich did not miss a rhythm. 
Finally, at the end, Rich started the long, slow to super fast, two stroke drum roll.  As the speed increased, Rich, looking bored and with not such much as a single bead of sweat on his brow, continued the roll as it got tighter and tighter and finally ended with the same
fabulous "buzz roll" that sounded more like a high pitched jet engine than a vibrating drum head.
When he finally finished, the crowd jumped to their feet, hooting, hollering and generally acknowledging what they just heard as pretty close to the second coming.  The challenger shook his head in disbelief as he threw his score of the "impossible drum solo" into the air declaring that indeed, Rich had duplicated the entire solo perfectly.  He walked back on stage, dropped to his knees and paid homage to the real master of the drum set.
Now, with Rich's phenomenal skills, perhaps the above was not so big a deal, with one exception.  You see, while the challenger used every trick in the book and every drum at his disposal, I forgot to mention that halfway through the long ending drum roll, Buddy Rich simply took one drum stick and placed it between his teeth and completed the roll with just ONE stick!  He signed the other one and gave it to the challenger. True story, because I saw it with my own eyes!


Thanks for contacting me.  Yes, indeed, I was in attendance and what I related took place.

The actual concert took place in the Civic Arena in a suburb just outside of Cleveland, Ohio, sometime either in the late fall of 1973 or spring of 1974.  I was teaching high school band at that time and one of our band members LOVED Buddy Rich, bought tickets and took me and a few other students and teachers. 

The place held around 2500 people and was rather full.  A lot of high schools in the area brought students and there was a big gathering.  Near the end of the concert, this young guy (I remember him being blond and a small build, but that is about it) stood up from his seat near the front left side of the stage and simply yelled, "Hey Buddy, I challenge you to a duel!"  As I noted in my previous message, the place was NOT HAPPY to have Buddy so treated and they tried to shout down the man and tell him to sit down.  One audience member actually yelled, "Hey Buddy, you don't have to take that S-H-I-T from him!"  Buddy would have nothing to do with that.  The remainder of the story was as you were mailed.

I recall that the band Buddy brought with him seemed very young, but they were all incredibly talented. During the concert, one of the trumpet players cracked ONE extremely high note during a unison section.  When the piece was over, Rich took the mike, and turned to the band and asked, "OK, who screwed up (or something similar to that)?"  When the young trumpet player sheepishly raised his hand to admit it was he, Rich yelled out, "Well, you're fired!"  The player just hung his head and kept shaking his head back and forth. 

At the end of the concert, we all stayed near the stage area to get a little more up close to Buddy, his amazing drum set up and the band members (they actually looked even younger from that close up).  The challenger stayed around as well.  Rich saw him on the side and motioned for him to come over.  The man came over to Rich who grabbed one of his sticks, took a pen or pencil and scribbled something (I assume his autograph) on one of the man's sticks. I recall he looked at it, smiled and just walked away.  No one knew who he was (neither did I and I had a reputation for knowing just about everyone in the music field in Cleveland at that time) and no one called him by name so that is lost to history.  A pretty wild night.

Feel free to use my little story if you like.  I have a very detailed memory history and can remember the evening as though it were yesterday.  It was also the first and last time I heard Buddy play.  My gain.  My loss.

Dr. Louis Alan Zagar
Click here to visit Dave Cooper's website
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Hello Colin,

Yes you can use my recollection of the gig.

I recently talked it over with another drummer who was there as well and he believes it was in 1976.  May be a different gig.  Possibly Buddy had a lot of challengers from Ohio! 

I recall at the gig in Cleveland that the drummer guy's friends said his name was "Fast Eddie" and I also recall that as the guy was playing, Buddy reached down from the stage and helped the guy's girlfriend get up onto the stage, so she could take photos of the guy playing Buddy's drums.  Buddy was very cordial and after the guy got finished Buddy said "you sure have got a lot of lick."

Bill Basil.