[Dixielandjazz] Johnny Carson & Buddy Rich

Steve barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Tue Jan 25 07:06:08 PST 2005

Posted earlier on the Stan Kenton Chat List.

Steve Barbone

Hello Everyone, 

I just wanted to add a story about Johnny Carson and Buddy Rich, even
though it has nothing to do with Kenton, it will be show what kind of
guys they both really were. Sure, Buddy had a reputation for being a
pain, and Johnny had one for being a little stand offish, but I
think this might show a side to both of them that people rarely got a
chance to see.

This was told in an article about Buddy for Modern Drummer by his

As we all know, Johnny played the drums, and you saw him do that more
in his earlier shows, but it pretty much tapered off as time went on.
He would just play at home with records or whatever for his own
entertainment. Well one day, one of the fellows who worked on the
show, who was also a weekend drummer with a local band, came to work
and told everyone about having his drums stolen out of the back of
his car, and how he didn't have a set to play for his gigs coming up.
Johnny heard about this, and the next day, he showed up at the studio
with his drums all packed up and gave them to the guy who worked on
the show. Told him, I don't play these much anymore, and I think you
will get more use out of them...That's the kind of guy Johnny was...

Fast forward to Johnny's next birthday. Buddy Rich heard the story
and knew that Johnny didn't have a set to play any more, and how he
missed being able to "woodshed" once in a while. So, Buddy calls
either Slingerland or Ludwig, I forget which company he was with at
the time, and asks them for an exact duplicate of his own set for
Johnny. They send out the drums, and Buddy calls Ed McMahon who in
turn calls Johnny's wife, and they arrange for her to get Johnny out
of the house on his birthday, then the two of then sneak over to the
house and set the drums up in a special room he used to like to play
in that was a gorgeous spot on a cliff with huge windows overlooking
Malibu beach. They waited for Johnny to get home, and...Surprise!
>From what I understand, he spent the rest of the day in there...lol

I am sure that the guy on the show never forgot the day that Johnny
gave up his drums to help out a fellow musician in need, and I am
also sure that Johnny never forgot that very special Birthday
surprise, and I will never forget that deep down inside, both of
these guys really had a heart of gold, even if Buddy used to leave it
in LA when he went on tour...lol

I hope this little story added something new to the 15 overplayed
clips we all keep seeing on TV this week. I started to miss Johnny
the day after he left, and took the band with him!

Here's to a lot of drum solos and laughs in the Great Beyond...

Cheers, Johnny...

John Akal

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