Remembering Pat Torpey
Thank you for your article on the Nashville Drummers Jam tribute to the late Pat Torpey [July 2018 Modern Drummer]. For the longest time I felt like I was the only drummer who considered Pat to be a huge influence. When I first read about this show, I thought Pat very much deserved it. And as I read your article, I realized that I wasn’t alone. In the early and mid ’90s, I learned a lot from his playing, as he would play some great fills and unique parts. But I honestly felt like I came to know and love [Pat’s contributions through] the grooves that he would bring to the songs of Mr. Big. I was saddened when I read the news of Torpey’s passing. Perhaps many more drummers will now discover his drumming to see what a great player he was. He’s truly missed.
Las Cruces, NM
Learning to Read Music
I must disagree with the premise as presented in the May 2018 issue that learning to read is a question to debate. I’m a working drummer and instructor in the Long Island, New York, area who insists that all my students learn to read.
Not all drummers will back shows or perform in situations that require reading, as I do. However, all drummers will benefit from reading, for a multitude of reasons. The proliferation of great drum and method books as a source for the development of technique and rhythmic concepts is invaluable to drummers of all levels. The pad work for stamina and dexterity [presented in] rudimental books such as America’s N.A.R.D. [Drum] Solos and many others is priceless. Learning the new rhythms, styles, and exercises presented in every issue of Modern Drummer is an asset to all, regardless of level or style.
I always enjoy reading Modern Drummer, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading the June 2018 issue [1978: A Year in Transition] because it took me back to my youth when I was twelve years old and really starting to take drumming seriously. Stewart Copeland came on the scene during the late ’70s with some of the most memorable and influential drumming [of the time, which] still stands today. His mix of punk, reggae, ska, and world rhythms wasn’t that popular on mainstream radio and left many drummers shaking their heads, trying to figure out exactly what he was playing. I can’t wait to grab a copy of the new Gizmodrome record to hear him today.
There was so much great music during the ’70s, as shown in the articles on Russ Kunkel, Dennis Elliott, Peter Criss, Rick Marotta, Michael Derosier, and Bill Bruford. I also never knew that Rick Marotta played drums on the Jacksons’ “Blame It on the Boogie” or that Russ Kunkel played on Bill Withers’ “Lovely Day.” I always thought it was James Gadson on Withers’ tune.
And speaking of Gadson, Jim Riley’s Must-Know Grooves article on disco drumming was spot on. Every drummer should know how to play this groove. If it was good enough for Steve Gadd, James Gadson, and all the other drummers of that era, then it’s good enough for the rest of us. Kudos, MD!
I studied with Roy Burns in the early ’60s at Henry Adler’s Drum Shop in New York City. Roy was an amazing teacher, and at that time he was also a featured drummer in several prominent jazz clubs around the city. I saw him often at Manhattan’s Metropole Cafe and had the opportunity to hear him play with more than a few hard-blowing groups, including Si Zentner’s big band. Roy was a major-league drummer, no question.
We all know how important Roy’s contributions are to the drum industry. But his book Practical Method of Developing Finger Control [coauthored with Lewis Malin], is one of the most unbelievable hand methods that you can imagine. It explains a couple of different concepts, including the Moeller technique, and eventually combines them until they become one complete picture. However, unless you had Roy as a teacher or studied with someone who did, you’d need to pay close attention to the written instructions.
My drum instructor in Arizona, Don Bothwell, prepared me well for studying with Burns in New York. For a kid who lucked out with two great teachers early on in his career, I can only credit that to some divine intervention. One day I hope to publish explanations of Roy’s method, because there’s never been anything like it, then or now.
Roy Burns—a noted teacher, musician, businessman, big-time drummer, and exceptional individual!
The photos in Nate Smith’s cover story in the September issue show Remo drumheads on his kit. The heads he uses and endorses are in fact the Evans models listed in his gear sidebar.
August’s Inside Methods piece, “Home Studio Drum Recording with Blair Sinta,” was written by Ilya Stemkovsky, not Patrick Berkery.
In July’s Kit of the Month feature, the dimensions of the set should have been identified as 48×48, not four square feet.