cover image Traps, the Drum Wonder: The Life of Buddy Rich

Traps, the Drum Wonder: The Life of Buddy Rich

Mel Torme. Oxford University Press, USA, $21.95 (272pp) ISBN 978-0-19-507038-5

Singer/author Torme ( The Other Side of the Rainbow ) here tracks the career of his longtime friend, from the days when child prodigy Buddy Rich (called Traps, the Drum Wonder) amazed vaudeville audiences with his talent until his death from a brain tumor in 1987. One of the greatest drummers of all time, Rich had a complicated and abrasive personality, and even his 45-year friendship with the author had its ups and downs. Though Torme was often the butt of Rich's abuse and practical jokes, he apparently never wavered in his affection for him, and writes with sympathy and admiration. The book does not gloss over Rich's troubled relationships, however--battles with Frank Sinatra, Tommy Dorsey and other musicians, stormy marriage, disastrous financial affairs--and succeeds in capturing the drummer's complex personality as well as in characterizing his musical genius. Rich cooperated on the autobiography up until his death. in 1987. Photos not seen by PW. (Sept.)