In high school, I decided to really study my rudiments.

I was very weak there. I tried to get a foundation together. Most of the cats I heard didn’t have their chops together. They were playing, swinging, looking pretty, and feeling pretty good about things. But they had no strong foundation. I joined the drum corps because it was cheaper than taking lessons from some drummer who was going to tell me how he played. The competitive element was much more important to me then. My father and I never got along very much, and I couldn’t stand being put under another whip. So I went on and joined the drum corps. It enlarged my viewpoint because I had a chance to compete and learn how to play with people.

Billy Cobham
Modern Drummer, August–September 1979