Buddy Rich (September 30, 1917 – April 2, 1987)
Gene Krupa called him, "The greatest drummer to have drawn breath." Buddy Rich was one of the best-known drummers ever although he had no formal training on the drums and reportedly refused to practice outside performances. Born into a vaudeville family, Buddy joined his parents' act at the age of 4, billed as "Traps the Drum Wonder." He was the second highest-paid child entertainer in the world before switching to music for a career that spanned several decades. He joined Tommy Dorsey's band in 1939 and formed his own band in 1946, owned two nightclubs and became a rock drummer as well.
Rich often guested on TV shows like the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, the Mike Douglas Show, the Dick Cavett Show and the Merv Griffin Show. His many awards include The Downbeat Magazine Hall of Fame Award, the Modern Drummer Magazine Hall of Fame Award and the Jazz Unlimited Immortals of Jazz Award. Rich gained international attention for such master compositions as his 10-minute West Side Story medley. During his lengthy career, Rich toured around the globe, performing for millions of fans and several world leaders including the King of Thailand, King Hussein of Jordan, the Queen of England, and U.S. presidents Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan.
Rich reportedly smoked pot with Josephine Baker, and was presented with a "loving cup" full of pot by her. On May 3, 1974, he was fined $75 and ordered to forfeit $750 bail for possession of marijuana in Hobart, Tasmania. In 1973, US marijuana arrests had risen to a record high of 420,700, an increase of 43% over 1972's figures, despite the American Bar Association calling for decriminalization.