Although he was the main subject of a GMC piece five years ago, jazz legend Bernard ‘Buddy’ Rich is making another appearance today. But the famously fiery drummer, who died at age 69 in 1987, is not showing up here because of his drumsticks. He’s here because I thought I’d expose a secret about him — he was actually a pretty good singer.
Rich was rightfully celebrated for his skill with drums. (You can read more about his career in that earlier piece, and you can see a video of his drumming there too.) But from time to time he put down his sticks and became a crooner of sorts, and he wasn’t half bad, with a straight-ahead style and a strong, appealing voice.
It seems especially ironic when you consider that the volatile musician often feuded with — and even came to blows with — Frank Sinatra in the early days, but he did enough singing through the years to fill a couple of albums. It’s been said that he turned more to singing as his health deteriorated since it was easier on him than his manic drumming style, but it never became a really high priority and he continued to be mostly a drummer until the end.
And by the way, he eventually made his peace with Sinatra — or at least a show-biz type of peace, the kind that allowed the two to be friendly on stage.