Buddy Rich (September 30, 1917 - April 2, 1987) was an American jazz drummer and bandleader. Rich was billed as "the world's greatest drummer" and was known for his technique, power, speed and ability to improvise.
He was born to Jewish parents in Brooklyn, New York on September 30, 1917. It was his father who initially realized Buddy's talent for rhythm, when Buddy could keep a steady beat with a drumstick at the age of one. He began playing drums in vaudeville when he was 18 months old, billed as Traps the Drum Wonder. At 11 he was performing as a bandleader. He received no professional drum instruction.
In 1937 he entered jazz with Joe Marsala's group, then played with Bunny Berigan (1938), Artie Shaw (1939), Tommy Dorsey (1939-1942, 1945, 1954-1955), Benny Carter (1942), Harry James (1953-1956), Les Brown, Charlie Ventura, and Jazz at the Philharmonic, as well as leading his own band and performing with all-star groups. For most of the period from 1966 until his death, he led a successful big band in an era when the popularity of big bands had waned from its peak in the 1930s and 40s. His most popular performance was a big band arrangement of West Side Story. He was also known as a very short tempered and irritable bandleader.
Buddy Rich died April 2, 1987. Reportedly, among his last words prior to surgery when asked by a nurse if he was allergic to anything were, "Yes ... country music!" He is interred in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles, California.