Dylan wants to make a movie about Buddy Rich, the jazz drummer

November 18, 1991|By Los Angeles Times

HOLLYWOOD -- Bob Dylan wants to make a movie about a musician, but it's not Woody Guthrie, Hank Williams or any of the other folk, country or rock figures that have been associated with him. The musician whose story Dylan wants to see on the screen: the late jazz drummer Buddy Rich.

"Ever see Buddy Rich?" Dylan asked during a recent interview. "To me, he was the essence of rhythm -- and he [led] an interesting life, a kind of a 'Raging Bull' character. A lot of people couldn't understand him . . . a lot were put off by his strong personality."

Rich, who was 69 when he died in 1987 after suffering a seizure while recuperating from brain surgery, was known both for his brilliant drumming and for his volatile, gregarious and cocky personality.

A child prodigy, he made his debut in his parents' vaudeville act by singing, dancing and playing the drums. By the time he was 6, he had taken over the act and was known as "Baby Traps." He later toured with the Artie Shaw and Tommy Dorsey bands before forming the first of his many bands after World War II. Frank Sinatra was one of his biggest boosters.

No, Dylan's not thinking about playing Rich -- or even acting in the film. He has obtained the rights to Mel Torme's recent, critically acclaimed biography -- "Traps the Drum Wonder: The Life of Buddy Rich" -- and would serve as executive producer of the film.

"It's an exciting movie to make because here's someone who was beating out drummers who were in their 20s and 30s when he was 2 years old," he added. "You've also got a story that [stretches] through the '20s, '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s. My objective is just to see that it is done properly. Someone's already working on an outline and a script, so all that needs to be done is get the money for it."

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