Today we wish a very happy birthday to the legendary Buddy Rich, who was born September 30, 1917, and whom Gene Krupa called “the greatest drummer ever to have drawn breath.” Rich’s unrivaled technique, speed, performance charisma, and execution have become some of the most sought-after skills in the drum world.

And his influence is far- and wide-reaching, with Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham, Deep Purple’s Ian Paice, Black Sabbath’s Bill Ward, Queen’s Roger Taylor, and many others citing him as a lasting and inimitable inspiration. Rich passed away in 1987.

A childhood vaudeville performer (like his parents), Rich began drumming under the stage name “Baby Traps The Drum Wonder.” He was leading his own big band at age 11, and later worked with bandleaders such as Tommy Dorsey, Harry James, and Count Basie before going back to leading his own big band.

Celebrate the legend with some of his greatest clips. Above is Rich in 1982 at the Monterey Jazz Festival. (Who doesn’t love an epic cymbal solo?)


Rich performs a drum solo with the Harry James Orchestra.

Nine-Minute Drum Solo

How is this so beastly and yet so flawless?

Time Check

Though he was a helluva solo-er, Rich also encapsulates the big-band sound in the clip below.

The Best Drum Battle Ever Recorded

And for pure delight, here’s Rich having a drum-off with Animal from The Muppets, which was a character based on Keith Moon.

Want more Buddy Rich?

Feast your eyes and sticks on our extensive Buddy Rich coverage, which includes lessons on mastering Rich’s speed, his one-handed roll, his whipped-cream roll, accented triplets, and much more.

And for more Sunday Sounds, go here.