Exclusive Interview with
Charlie Adams - chipritter.com
DRUM LESSON - If for some reason you donít know who Charlie Adams is, please read his Bio on his official website located HERE. www.charlieadams.com He is the Drummer with YANNI and was one of the very first in history to Rotate his drum kit in live drum solos. A spectacular showman, and musician as well as a friend and teacher to many. He is widely regarded as one of the best drummers in the World,
CR - Charlie how long have you been playing drums?
CA - Good question! Let me think about that oneÖ letís say 37 years.
CR - What were your early inspirations for drums/music?
CA - Well, the main reason I started playing drums was because I saw Buddy Rich playing on Johnny Carsonís Tonight Show. Of course there was also Ringo from the Beatles who inspired me, and I also grew up not only with Big Band Swing and Jazz in general but also grew up with Led Zeppelin, Emerson Lake and Palmer, Deep Purple, YES, great bands and all of them had great drummers.
CR - Some of your students include Jimmy Chamberlin of Smashing Pumpkins and Billy Mason of Tim McGraw. Do they still take lessons? Or is it more like chop talk on the phone?
CA - Billy still take lessons, and Jimmy is on the phone with me from time to time. Again, great drummers, in fact Jimmy just moved out to California and has a fusion project coming out soon on CD.
CR - WOW! That sure tells us allot about how important drumming is to them, I mean, if Billy Mason (Tim McGraw) and Jimmy Chamberlin (Smashing Pumpkins, and Independent) are still progressing, I know I sure need to keep taking lessons! Charlie, what advice would you give to younger drummers out there who may be just starting out?
CA - Well, besides practicing the fundamentals, you know, you canít be a great basketball player if you canít run! I would say if you donít have some rudimental basis and some reading basis, well then it is just going to be a hobby. John Paul Jones from Led Zeppelin said something very profound, he said ďget the best equipment possible, because the better you sound, the more you want to practiceĒ. Mainly my advice is to find out if itís something you have a passion for. If it happens to be in music and arts, great, if it happens to be in sports great, if you want to be a great accountant, doctor, lawyer that's great, just as long as you have a passion for what you do, thatís my best advice.
CR - Your drum set ups remind me of many of my inspirations, Gene Krupa, Buddy Rich etc..
When I first started to fly my Badge logo on the bass drum, I got and still get comments from both drummers who liked it and some who didnít. What is your take on why you fly the Badge Logo on your drumhead with your initials? And if possible, can you explain this for younger drummers as well who may not know where that comes from?
CA - Well, see thatís just something personal, you know, itís about my inspirations. I just liked that because itís so nostalgic, I thought that was cool because you know all the great drummers from the big band days had that on their bass drums with their initials on there. So besides maybe the artists your playing with it also gives it a personal touch, and besides having that CA on the bass drum, I also now display the Autism Ribbon.
CR - Autism Ribbon? Can you tell us some more about that?
CA - The Autism Ribbon is a ribbon with a variety of colors and itís also a puzzle. See, in the ribbon the pieces of the puzzle all connect, for example for a person who does have autism, the ribbon represents how he or she views reality and how we are trying to help them connect those peaces for them to help them to grasp reality. The movie Rainman with Dustin Hoffman was more of an extreme form of Autism. We are trying to help his/her brain to function more like a normal personís brain, sometimes they go into their own world, the Ribbon represents our efforts to help them put the pieces together, to help us communicate better and to help them function better.
CR - Thatís a great answer and leads me to my next question as a matter of fact, Charlie you have a Brand new DVD out released this year, which features live performances on the drum set and much more. please tell us how that DVD came about?
*note Charlie Adams DVD sales directly help children with Autism click here for Charlie's Official Website.
CA - The DVD was about a year in the making, and it was originally only about drumming and for drummers. Originally it was going to be called ďMy Love Affair with the DrumsĒ. Well as time went on the project went from just drumming to music in general, and we decided that we wanted to reach not just drummers but all musicians, Yanni fans as well and we especially wanted to include things for parents that have disabled children and so it became ďLifeís Journey through Music, Family and AutismĒ.
In the DVD besides it being a documentary I have included an entire section for drummers. And then there is also a section where I talk about Autism and show my two little boys in therapy at Vanderbilt Hospital. Weíre trying to give parents hope.
"We are not victims, we are survivors." - Charlie Adams - The Drummers View 2004
CA - My boys Sean and Jared, they have both been diagnosed with Autism.
But I am happy to say that through the therapy they have been receiving
They are not the same kids that they used to be a year ago. Communicating much better, responding etc. The thing that both experienced or were affected by the most, or to say the thing that stifled them the most because of Autism was speech, they didnít start speaking until they were four years old.
The best thing that happened with the DVD was that Jared bonded with the drums, it was literally a break through with Jared. Thatís the thing about music therapy with children.
When we saw that happen with Jared, my wife and I said ďyou know what, we donít care if we ever sold one DVD.Ē Honestly because that experience, watching our son respond like that, to us was worth the whole time an expense of putting it together for what it did for Jared. It really was, it was all worth it. If someone said ďhey Iíll give you a million dollars for the DVD or you can have Jared with a breakthrough, Iíd say Iíll take Jared with that breakthrough any day.
CR- thatís amazing!
CA - it really was Chip, I canít tell you how good it made us feel.
We canít get Jared off the drums now! He imitates everything I do!
He bonded with my sister Sue Bowles when he saw her on the DVD, the very next time she came to visit he wanted her to hold him. That blew us away as well. My sister was crying and so happy, and we all realized we had reached him through that. None of us expected that something like that would happen because of the DVD, it was fantastic.
CR - Do you think this may help other kids as well?
CA -Well they definitely respond to the visual, they not only have to hear it, they have to see it, especially with music, if they can watch it as well as hear it. They went nuts watching your appearance on David Letterman. We were watching your videos on your website and Jared kept grabbing the mouse and playing it again. (laughing)
CR- WOW! I know I say "wow" too much...sorry, But that is so cool!
Please tell Jared I said thank you and that I said HI JARED!!
CA - I will be sure to tell him that for you!
CR -Charlie, where can people learn more about Autism and music therapy for kids?
CA - Well I would say to learn more they should visit the
Autism Society of America's Website
CR - Cool. Charlie out of all the shows you have performed in the last 25 + years, which ones stand out in your mind and why?
CA - obviously the most exciting one for me was Live at the Acropolis. Playing in front of over 10,000 people every night, right below the Parthenon in Athens Greece. The thing that made it so exciting was it was the first time for Yanni to be playing at home in front of his fellow Greek citizens it made you feel warm in the heart for him.
And also I was playing a drum solo in front of a majority of people who did not speak English yet responded to my drums, I really felt that the drums communicated with them, you know. Like drumming and music is in fact an international language. A great experience that will stay with me the rest of my life.
* note - Charlieís drum solo and the entire Yanni concert he is speaking of can be seen on the DVD entitled (Yanni - Live at the Acropolis (1994)) Catch Charlie Adams live on Tour With Yanni 2004 details and tour dates available on http://www.yanni.com/
CR - please tell us about what drum set up you are using
CA - I use two kits on stage with Yanni, both made by Ludwig drums, I use Sabian cymbals, Wuhan Chinas and Gongs, Promark Drumsticks
Attack Drum Heads, Qwikstix Sticks Holders, Audio Technica microphones
Hart Dynamics Electronic Percussion, Gibraltar Hardware and Hansen Futz Practice Pedals.
CR- What goes through your mind when choosing your set up and placement of the drum kits? In other words, what are you looking for when you set up your drum set and why?
CA - The Elaborate kit is the same as my four piece with my other instruments surrounding me in the best way I can reach them. Buddy Rich, Gene Krupa basic set up theme. When I set up the drums I like the ride cymbal right in front of me mounted on the bass drum as well as having easy access to the toms. My first teacher taught me to set up and be able to use only my wrists pretty much to move from toms to cymbals etc on the four piece. I donít want to have to stretch too far or waste energy trying to reach any single piece of equipment.
I would say I look for a set up that enables me to comfortably reach everything.
CR- Who were your drum teachers?
CA- In Joliet IL it was Bill Mueller who used to always play at the Palmer house, And then when I went to Chicago I studied with Phil Stanger at Frankís Drum Shop on Wabash Ave. Chicago was home to many great drummers, even Gene Krupa at one time, and when I lived in Los Angeles I was honored to study with Ed Shaughnessy the great Big Band Swing drummer.
CR - I try to get all my students to at least know who Gene Krupa was, what he did for drumming. When I hear of a young drummer doesn't know who Gene Krupa was, it's sad to me, like a baseball player who never heard of Babe Ruth, would you agree with that statement?
CA - well yes of course, Gene Krupa was the father of the drum solo. He did for Jazz what John Bonham did for rock. Those drummers really pushed the envelope for us, I just got a wonderful compellation of the Decca CD with Chic Webb, just wonderful.
CR - ok cool! Charlie tell us why new drummers should find out who Chic Webb was?
CA - HA! well Chic Webb helped to start it all too, him and Baby Dodds were like the very first drummers, and they both helped inspire Gene Krupa. And without Krupa there would be no Buddy Rich.
*note - quote from Chick Webb Biography ďArt Blakey and Ellington both credit Webb with influencing their music. Krupa credited Webb with raising drummer awareness and paving the way for drummer-led bands, which Krupa would later employĒ Legendary quote ďBuddy Rich is the greatest drummer to ever draw breathĒ Ė Gene Krupa
CR - Charlie thank your inspiration and for your time
CA- it was my pleasure Chip, thank you!
CR - any parting words for new drummers out the there?
CA - well Iíd say that drumming is a great way to safely get your frustrations out,
I always say the reason I like drumming so much is I could hit them and they would never hit me back! You know I think drummers are the mellowest people in the world except when they are on the drums! (both laughing)
Special Thanks To
Autism Society of America's Website
For Tour Dates and DVD information
What Charlie Adams Means To Me by Drew, a current student of Mr. Adams!
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