Buddy has the distinction of being the first person I can think of that changed me in a profound way. I was around 4 years old when I saw him perform on television. He blew my mind. Here was a guy wailing away on a drum kit, very flashy, very fast, arms flailing, smacking cymbals, drumming with one hand, I was transfixed. I decided to go to the kitchen and pull out some pots and pans and wooden spoons and start banging away. I was hooked. I started tapping on anything and everything constantly. It drove the people around me crazy but I was obsessed. I took lessons for awhile when I was seven and finally got a real drum set when I was 11. The Beatles had come along in the meantime and solidified my love of rock drumming.
Buddy was quite a phenom and had an amazing career and at one time was billed as “The World’s Greatest Drummer” I found out more about him years later. His father said he could hold a beat by the time he was one years old and began playing drums in vaudeville when he was only 18 months old. He was the second highest paid child entertainer in the world (after Jackie Coogan) and at 11 he was performing as a band leader. He never took lessons and claimed to never practice, only playing at performances.
I ran into him at a music shop in Manhattan testing out cymbals and sheepishly said to him he was the reason I play the drums. He was gracious and funny all the while still hitting a cymbal with one drum stick that left me in awe of his precision.