Legendary Drummers by David Barsalou
MICKEY ROKER (1932 - 2017)
Philadelphia native, Mickey Roker lost his battle with cancer and diabetes at the age of 84. Granville William Roker, Jr. was born in Miami, Florida on September 3, 1932. The hard driving drummer with a heart of gold is now in Jazz Heaven. His over forty-year reign on the music scene is legendary.
Mickey worked with some of the finest musicians in the business…Including Benny Carter, Dizzy Gillespie, Herbie Hancock, Milt Jackson, Sonny Rollins, Stanley Turrentine, The Modern Jazz Quartet, Nancy Wilson, Lee Morgan and numerous others.
"Somebody just reminded me of when I used to work with Oscar Brown Jr. He wanted fair treatment for all people knowing full well who was getting shafted the most, and of course this was his biggest concern. However he was inclusive when it came to brotherly love I can tell you that! He also knew how to play the stock market… On a side note he gave me a few good tips, and I made a little extra taste!"
Buddy. One word says it all. Icon, household name, a celebrity with a comics wit, a virtuoso unequaled. He was a force of nature to behold. He commanded the best out of his musicians because every time he sat down behind the kit he was the best in the world. Quite simply, no one drove a big band like he did. Beyond his soul shattering technique, it was just the time feel—the drive that he had that was like nobody else. His time felt like a cigarette boat with the front end hiked up in the air cruising on the water at a ferocious speed. At the same time utmost musically always prevailed and he could be just as sensitive too. His astonishing brush playing clearly demonstrated this.
I will say this: if Buddy could have read music he may have enjoyed staying in one place and making big money while staying in town (NY or LA) and being the house drummer for one of those late night tv shows. But (lucky for us) he had to move his band around a lot to keep it working all the time. This gave everybody, everywhere a chance to hear and enjoy Buddy Rich. (...and then again he probably wouldn’t have had it any other way)
So you think that state-of-the-art rack system you emptied your bank account for firmly puts you among the pinnacle of 22nd Century Drummers, right? After all, it is equipped with a remote cable Hi Hat, so it's the “Latest and Greatest.” Would you believe your great grandfather, the guy you got those drummin' genes from, beat you to the punch by nearly a hundred years?
I will be exhibiting and also giving lessons in booth 175 on the second level of the 2017 Chicago Drum Show, May 20 & 21.
Barry “Frosty” Smith died unexpectedly last night at home, but he’ll live on forever when locals discuss Austin’s greatest drummers. In truth, there’s little debate of Smith’s placement on that list.
Smith experienced a fatal episode in his backyard on Wednesday evening, according to friends. He’d suffered a stroke and a heart attack in 2015, which limited his ability to perform.
It was not until the mid-2000s that while surfing online I saw a pic of Vince Treanor (Former Doors road manager) pictured with the 14” floor tom that I knew was John’s. It was sometime in early 2016 when I learned that the drum had changed hands and was now in the hands of a new owner. I was able to contact that owner and was happy to find that he was very friendly and even happier when I realized that the drum was not terribly far from me and that I could go see it. Along with the owner, we were able to look at close up pics of John using the drum in the 60s and match up the color striations to authenticate it as the original drum.
Not So Modern Drummer continues to celebrate the legendary Buddy Rich in 2017. Recognizing the 100th anniversary of his birth… Providing their personal commentary on Buddy are Bob Girouard, Rob Gottfried, Jack Scarangella, and Gary Stevens.