Today I was doing some research when I came upon something that caught my curiosity. It was the grave of Buddy Rich, or should I say the crypt of Buddy Rich that is buried in a mausoleum wall at the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles. It is a modest grave that simply says “One of a Kind.” Although this inscription is appropriate, the overall grave seems modest. It is classy nonetheless but I’m still curious as to why this burial approach was chosen. After all, he was arguably the greatest drummer of all-time and he toured the world, performing for millions of adoring fans.
It must be said that other celebrities like Marylin Monroe are buried in the same location and manner so perhaps this is appropriate for someone of Rich’s stature. A gravestone may have attracted too many visitors wanting to pay their respects and the result would have meant turning a sacred place into a tourist trap. In that case, I can understand completely why this approach was taken. Having tourists take selfies at a nameplate is less intrusive than having them tread on a plot.
If there was any question whether Rich was remarkable right up to his death, here is a performance shot in early 1987, two months before he died of heart failure following surgery for a brain tumor. Here is his version of “Hawaiian War Chant,” performed with the Tommy Dorsey Band, led by Buddy Morrow. Rich himself complimented this and every band he ever played with when he said, “I mean, I think I liked every band I ever played in because each band was different, each band had a different concept, and each band leader was different… different personalities and musical tastes.”