Las Vegas Sun

October 18, 2019

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Drummer’s daughter talks about the return of the Buddy Rich Memorial Concert

By Jerry Fink

Las Vegas Sun

The long-dormant Buddy Rich Memorial Concert, featuring the Buddy Rich Band, returns to the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City Friday.

“Ten years have passed since the last one,” says his daughter, Cathy Rich, a Las Vegas resident for the past six years.

Something has been added to this year’s production that wasn’t available when the concert was last held – streaming television. The show will be streamed live globally by and recorded in high definition for worldwide release. (The show can be heard at 3:30 p.m. PDT Friday.)

Until the popular concerts ended they were an annual event since 1989, two years after legendary drummer Rich died in Los Angeles of a heart attack during surgery for a brain tumor.

“This last January I got a little tap on my shoulder from the great beyond and my dad said to me, ‘I think it’s time to another show’ and here we are,” Rich says.

She’s been working on reviving the concert ever since.

Nick Rich, her son and Buddy’s grandson, will be among the featured drummers. The 24 year scion of one of the world’s greatest and most recognized drummers spent years avoiding his legacy.

“This will be his first time on the show,” Cathy Rich says. “He’s brilliant but he always steered clear of jazz and big bands for the sake of not being compared to Buddy. But this year he stepped up and said he wanted to do this. He will be sitting in with Buddy’s band and I’ll be crying my eyes out.”

Nick Rich is a session drummer as well as a performer in many bands, including his Vegas group Opium Alibi.

“I think the concert will pretty much rock his world,” Cathy Rich says.

The lineup of performers at the concert includes:

Terry Bozzio, longtime drummer with Frank Zappa’s band and now head of his own band, Missing Persons.

John Blackwell who was with Prince’s band and most recently toured the world with Justin Timberlake.

Chad Smith, the Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer.

Tommy Igoe, New York drumming icon, leader of the Birdland Big Band and in demand session and Broadway drummer.

Neil Peart, drummer for Rush.

Will Lee, a bass player for David Letterman.

In years past the concert featured guest performers playing jazz and Big Band music with Buddy’s band. This year, in addition to performing three or four Buddy Rich numbers guests will perform big band arrangements of other music. For example, Bozzio will perform a Zappa tune and Smith will do a Rolling Stones number.

Buddy Rich, who would be 91, performed with some of the world’s top bands, including those led by Artie Shaw, Tommy Dorsey, Harry James and Les Brown.

Cathy Rich says she often gets asked about living in her father’s shadow.

“I don’t look at it that way,” she says. “It was such an amazing life, and still is.”

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