If you perform a YouTube search of “Billy Gladstone Technique” you end up with an amazing 622 results. Even more amazing, only one of the videos is by a person who is actually qualified to discuss Gladstone technique...Morris “Arnie” Lang. As many of you know, Lang was a student of Billy Gladstone for many years and shares his experiences in his Hudson Music video “The Gladstone Technique.” The remaining videos are by those whose experiences rely solely on speculation and/or hearsay...neither of which is valid in a drummer/technique discussion. Two of the greatest drummers in history did not agree on Gladstone's technique and both of them scrupulously studied his performances. I am speaking of Louie Bellson and Buddy Rich.
From the book Billy Gladstone by some guy named Chet Falzerano; Louie Bellson, “I can recall one time going to hear Billy at Radio City (Music Hall in New York City) and he did something I never saw a drummer do and probably will never see again. The Rockettes were onstage, when suddenly Billy did one of those great sforzando rolls that was so magnificent that the attention of the entire theatre audience was literally drawn from the stage over to Billy’s corner of the orchestra pit. Something like that happens once in a hundred years and it demonstrates the kind of drumming magic this guy had. He was the epitome of a snare drum player. I only wish the kids of today had a chance to hear Billy Gladstone play. I first heard about Billy Gladstone while I was studying with Murray Spivack. Guys have always associated that finger technique with me because they’ve seen me do it. But actually, I got it from Murray and Billy Gladstone, who in turn got their concepts of finger technique from the French and Swiss drummers. But Murray always used to say that Billy was the real master and the leading exponent of the finger system.”
Buddy Rich, “My roll is probably the best roll in the world outside of one other drummer and I’m not modest. The greatest drummer that I have heard in my life as far as rudiments and the roll is concerned is Billy Gladstone.” From the December 1980 Modern Drummer article “Buddy Rich Revisited" by Cheech Iro; Buddy Rich, “Billy Gladstone’s concept was totally legitimate. He was a great snare drum artist. Great wrists! I’m opposed to all that talk about finger control and all that nonsense. I heard him play Ravel’s Bolero one time and he was phenomenal. I used to sit in the last seat in the last row of the balcony at Radio City Music Hall and listen to him articulate off the snare drum. Every stroke was like an arrow, and he used a wrist motion. He had his drums very high and flat, because he was a showman and he would raise his hands, but the actual playing was done more from a forearm and wrist motion rather than the whole arm.”
I mean, if Louie Bellson and Buddy Rich cannot agree on Billy Gladstone's technique...