Marcus Gilmore was incredibly nice, and treated me like an old friend when we first met.
JJ Johnson and Tyler Greenwell were super fun and welcoming.
But Stanton Moore was the king. I was working at a bar in Florida where his trio played in maybe 2007. We started talking about Katrina and musicians who lost all their gear. I had an old Tama Swingstar that I had been trying to donate to the Tipitina's relief charity, but I hadn't been able to get through to anyone. He told me to run home and grab the drums. He checked them out, threw them in their van, and then brought them back to donate himself. It was a three-piece 90s Swingstar with the wrap taken off. I probably couldn't have sold it for more than $150 dollars, but he thanked me like I had just given him a check for ten grand or something. Incredibly gracious and helpful in response to a very small gesture. Then he hung out late and chatted with the whole bar staff for a few hours. Great dude.
but meeting (actually working with) Jeff Porcaro was pretty cool
I always love being around Ralph Humphrey - such a huge influence on me... and such a intelligent, thoughtful player and person.
Years ago, Louis Bellson made a point of coming up to me after a concert with my crazy-ass odd meter fusion band at an outdoor venue that his band was playing at the next week - he was just so gracious and complimentary - every bit the quintessential gentleman that he so rightfully known for being.
But probably the coolest of Ed Shaughnessy. First time I met him, I witnessed him go way out of his way to make sure things went for a new kid on the first day of his first big gig. He was so great - and did it so hiply and subtly - but just totally giving in a situation where absolutely wouldn't have had to.
I remember it so well, because that kid was me and the gig was my first day with the Don Ellis band.
I've met a number of name drummers. Kenwood Dennard after his Brand X gig at The Iridium. He was signing CDs after his set and I was able to talk to him, telling him that I had been listening to him since his days of teaching at Drummer's Collective where I also took lessons and mentioned how we had seen all his gigs with his band Highlife at Seventh Avenue South in 1980. That got his attention. Really nice guy.
Elvin Jones from a show at The Village Vanguard. My friend and I got there super early so we could have really good seats. We ended up in the table directly in front of Elvin. He also showed up early so he could hammer some metal brackets into the riser in front of his bass drum spurs to stop it from creeping. During the set he knocked one of the brackets out of the riser and his bass drum started creeping. I was able to put my foot up and hold his bass drum for the remainder of the set. He was so grateful for helping him out. Just a super sweet guy.
Ted Reinhardt (original drummer for Sypro Gyra) RIP numerous times as I would go see him play in his band Taxi every Thursday during my sophmore year in Buffalo when I should have been studying. Every so often I'd get the nerve to talk to him and ask him about the amazing tone of his toms. He said he used timpani heads on his toms although I'm not sure how true that was since timpani heads don't come that small. But they were very thin and he said he has to change the heads after every set because he would put large divots in them so easily. Nice guy and a bit shy.
And lastly Narada Michael Walden after his gig with his band at The Iridium. Just like with Kenwood he was signing CDs after the set and I was with my son who was about 15 at the time. Someone asked if we wanted a picture and we said "Sure!!". So he stood in the middle with me and my son on either side of him. While the pictures were being taken I told him I had been listening to him since I was my son's age ever since hearing Visions of the Emerald Beyond. So they are snapping away and the next thing I know he turns and gives me a kiss on my cheek. I'm guessing that came from his Sri Chinmoy leanings. Just a really nice sweet guy as well. And I still haven't washed that side of my face since that show.
Bun E Carlos twice, once after they played at Mississippi Nights in St. Louis, probably in 1997 or 1998. Then again at the Chicago Vintage Drum Show in 2001 or 2002. He was very friendly both times, though after the show it was very brief. At the drum show, I asked about the Radio King set, which he said he still had and said he should get it out sometime. Again, didn't stick around to really bother him, he was trying to sell stuff.
The second is DJ Bonebrake from the band X. Spoken to him many times throughout the years. Always a friendly conversation.
I highly doubt either would remember me. LOL!
I met Buddy Rich when I was 18 or so. His band played at Salem NH high school and I went with one of my best friends. We were both in marching band and drum corps together.
At the end of the concert, we went to the back of the school and Buddy's tour bus was there with a line. He was seated just inside the bus and he was doing autographs. I got up there and he said (in a voice I'm sure you can imagine)
"you play drums kid?"
me: "yes sir"
Buddy: "you damn well better be practicing your ass off"
me: "I am sir"
I was a manufacturer's rep for 16 years and got to meet and hang with a lot of "famous" drummers. Some even spent many hours in my passenger seat as we went from town to town on mini clinic "tours."
It's funny how someone like, say, Dave Weckl, is instantly recognizable to any drummer, yet he can walk into any restaurant or gas station and no one knows him from Adam.
I'd like to think, by virtue of the instrument we play, that all drummers are cool people. But it's no different than any other cross-section of humanity. Some are really cool, some not so much. I certainly won't name names, but there were some guys I couldn't wait to be rid of. Others became close friends.
Having said all that, the coolest, most fun guy I had the pleasure of spending a lot of time with was Mike Mangini. All around great guy -- and obviously a fantastic player.
I opened for the Dave Matthews Band when they only had their first single on the radio. Carter and I talked about my gear: a charcoal pearl (Pearl made) Dixie, and my mid 60s 6.5 in Slingerland COB snare. Funny how talking gear is such a common denominator with drummers of all skill levels and ages. Nice guy. I played on his kit, but declined the chance to use it for my performance. Looking back, it was a wise choice so as to stick with familiarity and not be plagued with constant decisions to make throughout the entire show: what to hit next.
Michael Walden as a 22 year old drummer for MahavOrch II at Montreux '74. We spent the day of the concert together talking about music, e.g., Jaco who I hadn't heard of prior thereto, and messing around on a practice pad. Had a front row center seat courtesy of the all-access press pass I lied my way into procuring.
I devoted my own post to this last summer, but I will name Chris Stewart, the very first drummer with Genesis.
Chris easily qualifies as the “coolest” drummer I’ve met, famous or otherwise. He is the most charming, natural, breezy, funny, fascinating, self-deprecating storyteller you would ever want to meet. This was part of a walking tour through the Sierra Nevada foothills in Andalucia, Spain.
While he certainly realizes (perhaps a bit uncomfortably) his place in music history, what really counts for Chris is how giving and hospitable he is. Like, “come sit on my patio and let me serve you lunch” hospitable. A warm and wonderful man.
And by the way, a fantastic flamenco guitar player.
My wife and I just returned from a fantastic holiday in the south of Spain, hiking the Alpujarras for an entire week with Chris Stewart, the man who's been pictured in my avatar. Chris is most notably the writer of several wonderful books about his life as a British ex-pat making a hardscrabble...