- RICH, BUDDY
- RICH, BUDDY (Bernard; 1917–1987); U.S. drummer, bandleader, tap dancer. The son of a vaudeville team (Wilson and Rich), he was on stage at the age of 18 months, or so the legend goes. He was definitely a professional entertainer by age four, playing drums and tap dancing in the Broadway show Pinwheel in 1921, and by the time he was 11, Rich had formed his own band. As soon as he looked old enough, he was sneaking into clubs and sitting in on the drums whenever he could. In 1937, Rich was hired by Joe Marsala, and he then moved on to gigs with Bunny Berigan, artie shaw , and Tommy Dorsey. His musical career was interrupted by military service during World War II, but he picked up where he had left off when he returned, rejoining Dorsey. According to a contemporary source, Rich was "cocky, rashly outspoken and brutally sarcastic." With a temper as explosive as his all-out playing style, he was also quick with his fists, fighting nearly everyone in the Dorsey band, including star singer Frank Sinatra. Yet when Rich left Dorsey to form his own band, Sinatra was one of his financial backers, so completely did he believe in the tempestuous drummer's talents. Although his sense of rhythm was exquisite, Rich's timing as an entrepreneur was less sterling; he blossomed as a big-band drummer just as the economic foundations of the Big Bands collapsed. He toured with Norman Granz's Jazz at the Philharmonic troupe, worked as a vocalist after a heart attack in the mid-1950s, then came roaring back with a new Big Band in 1966. That fire-breathing group stayed intact in one form or another for about a dozen years. A second heart attack in the mid-1970s forced Rich to pare the band down to a sextet, but he remained musically active and a frequent guest on such TV staples as The Tonight Show almost up to his death from a brain tumor. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: "Buddy Rich," in: Music Web Encyclopaedia of Popular Music, at: www.musicweb.uk.net ; B. Case and S. Britt, "Buddy Rich," in: The Illustrated Encylopedia of Jazz (1978); H. Siders, "Buddy Rich," in: Down Beat Magazine archives, at: www.downbeat.com ; G.T. Simon, The Big Bands (1981). (George Robinson (2nd ed.)
Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.