Words of friendship


Louie Belson: In this business, paying your dues is very important. Before Bud had his big band, I knew it was going to happen. It should have happened a lot sooner, but you just keep on going, working hard, and establish yourself to that point. Once you get it, great. Sure, I feel very comfortable with my big band—just like Buddy does.

Buddy Rich: We got to do some things over here.

L.B.: Buddy paved the way for us. We've done things to gether in the States that have just been highlights. When I get oh the bandstand with him, I feel very honoured and privileged, and I mean this. . .

B.R.: Ah, stop all this:. . !

L.B.: No — I speak the truth, man.

B.R.: Well, let me just say this—in all sincerity. Drums aside—and I want to put 'em aside at this moment and just talk about the man. He is a credit to the music business—he certainly is a credit to the art of drumming. As a person—and I've met a lot of persons in my life—he's the gentlest, kindest, warmest there is. I consider him a true friend—and that's better than saying he's one of the greatest drummers, aside from his musical ability. As a man, he's an all—time champion. I'll say it's an honour to have been his friend this long—and to continue on, for as long as it takes. Say goodnight, Gracie.

L.B.: Man! Well, when the IDA asked me to be there to make a presentation to Buddy, I said: "Absolutely." I would travel nine thousand miles to do it. When you say a friend—I go way back with this guy; not only him and I, but families, you know. I knew Mom and Pop very well, and vice versa. When you come from that kind of thing, and when you can maintain friendship for over thirty years. . . when I hear people say something about him—whatever it is—I say: "That's my friend". On or off the bandstand. I've said it many, many times, in articles; when guys asked me about Buddy Rich, I said: "He's a rarity". In his field, he is tops—there's nobody any better.

And, like I said at the drum club; I saw him do things like give Davey Tough his last few dollars—because in those days we all scuffled. I think he would do anything for a friend; he's a very deeply emotional man. For me to be his friend, and to be with him on the bandstand any time, is a great honour, and always will be. I love the man, I've always loved him, and till they bury me, I know that we can go down hands tight. And that means a lot, for me.

B.R.: It means it all.

L.B.: That's right. You know what that's like? Him and I, if I may be permitted to say so, are like Duke and Basie. When I say that, I don't mean to say that we're way up here. What I mean is: those two men had a charisma within one another; when you said "Duke" to Basie, he had a tear in his eye—he said: "That's the man". And when you mentioned Basie to Duke, he said: "That's the man". So they had a true love, on and off the bandstand—and I'm sure that's the way this man and I are. It's always been in my mind.

Copyright © 1967 Les Tomkins. All Rights Reserved.