Happy birthday Buddy Rich!

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Buddy Rich (September 30, 1917—April 2, 1987) was an American big band drum musician who got his start as a child prodigy on vaudeville. He performed in numerous bands and lead his own.

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Rich was born Bernard Rich in Brooklyn, New York to Bess and Robert Rich. His parents had been in vaudeville. His father noticed that Rich was able to keep a steady beat with spoons, and by the time Buddy was only a year and a half old, he was playing the drums on vaudeville stages. He was known as "Baby Traps, the Drum Wonder."

By the time he was 11 years old, he was already performing as a bandleader. It was reported that at a certain point in his career, he was the second-highest paid child performer in the world—he earned about $1,000 a week.BuddyRich

In 1937, Rich signed with bandleader Joe Marsala. He moved on over the next few years to work with Bunny Berigan and Artie Shaw. He appeared on his first major recording as part of the Vic Schoen Orchestra, which backed the Andrews Sisters. (Image source)

In 1938, while performing in Tommy Dorsey's orchestra, he met and performed with Frank Sinatra. He played in Dorsey's orchestra during 1939–1942, 1945, and 1954–1955. It was Sinatra who, following Rich's stint in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II, financially backed Rich's own band in its formation in 1946.

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Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Rich played with the likes of Benny Carter, Harry James, Les Brown, and Charlie Ventura.

As the big band trend faded over the next decades, Rich's career remained steadier than most. He continued to lead big bands that played in colleges and even high schools. A surge came later in his career when he appeared on the comeback records of Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong.

In 1966, Rich released a big band arrangement consisting of a medley of songs from the musical West Side Story. The recording depicted Rich's virtuosic talent, especially with regard to drum solos.

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In 1959, Rich suffered a heart attack. He continued performing despite his health. He reacted the same way after being charged with income tax evasion and was forced to declare bankruptcy in 1968.

He appeared on television a number of times, including on The Steve Allen Show, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, The Merv Griffin Show, and The Muppet Show. He continued to perform on and off until his death in 1987.

 

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Additional Info

  • Birthday Date: Tuesday, 30 September 2014
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