BY NICOLAS GRIZZLE
Drummers have long been sidemen and bandleaders in late night TV talk shows. Questlove, Max Weinberg, and Fred Armisen immediately come to mind. But what if the drummer was the host? And what if he also played drums on the show? And what if that drummer was Buddy Rich? Well it happened, and you now have a chance to see it.
In 1982, Rich filmed three pilot episodes for The Buddy Rich Show in the Statler Hotel in New York City. His big band filled much of the stage for each show, and played with Buddy and guests like Ray Charles, Lionel Hampton, Mel Torme, Stan Getz, Gerry Mulligan, and Woddy Herman in front of a live audience. Rich chatted with his guests between songs too. But the shows never aired—until now.
DrumChannel shelled out big bucks for the rights to the three episodes and plans to release a DVD of them. But they’ve still got to pay for the songwriting royalties, so the company and its founder, Don Lombardi, has launched an Indiegogo campaign to do just that, with memorabilia like signed drumheads, posters, limited edition DW drums, and, or course, pre-orders of the DVD set available for purchase. The DVD included more than 20 songs, including “Westside Story,” “Birdland,” “Love for Sale,” and others.
“The Buddy Rich Show was a real passion project for Buddy Rich and even though it has taken nearly 40 years to finally release it for the public in full, this is important historical footage both for drumming fans as well as fans of jazz and big band,” said Lombardi. “We’re proud to be a part of finally releasing it in full to the public.”
Drum! had a chance to preview some of the footage, which highlights Rich at the top of his game, going all-out on the kit (as he always did) and trading solos with his guests. He chats with the musicians, dripping with sweat from having just played under hot stage lights. His wit and personality shine through, and the retro camera technology and artistic cinematography make for enjoyable viewing.
It’s fun to imagine something taking place like this today. Who would be the drummer/host? Which guests would be mainstays? Leave your ideas in the comments below!
THE BUDDY RICH SHOW
Show 1 – February 16, 1982
“Bugle Call Rag,” Buddy Rich Band
“Down For Double,” Mel Torme
“Walkin’ Shoes,” Gerry Mulligan, Mel Torme, Buddy Rich
“Lady Be Good,” Gerry Mulligan, Mel Torme, Buddy Rich
“West Side Story,” Buddy Rich Band
“Walk On The Water,” Gerry Mulligan, Buddy Rich
“Soon It’s Gonna Rain,” Mel Torme, Gerry Mulligan, Buddy Rich
“Birdland”- Buddy Rich Band
Show 2 – February 17, 1982
“Greensleeves,” Buddy Rich Band
“Woodchopper’s Ball,” Woody Herman, Buddy Rich
“Sonny Boy,” Woody Herman, Buddy Rich
“Georgia On My Mind,” Ray Charles
“I’m Busted,” Ray Charles
“Cousins,” Woody Herman, Ray Charles, Buddy Rich
“Dancing Men,” Buddy Rich Band
Show 3 – February 18, 1982
“Birdland,” Buddy Rich Band
“The Dolphin,” Stan Getz, Buddy Rich
“Round Midnight,” Stan Getz, Buddy Rich
“Midnight Sun,” Lionel Hampton, Buddy Rich
“Hamp’s Boogie,” Lionel Hampton, Buddy Rich
“Love For Sale,” Buddy Rich Band