Tribute to Drummer Charles Perry
I had the pleasure and the privilege to have studied with Charles Perry in the early to mid 1970’s. This post is a tribute to him.
For those of you in the drum community who don’t know Charles Perry, he is best known as the author of some of the most seminal instructional drum books, such as:
- Rockin’ Bass Drum – Book 1 & 2
- Drum Solos in Triplets
- Introduction to the Drum Set – Vol 1 & 2
- 8 Men in Search of a Drummer – Music Minus One Book and CD
During World War II, Charles (Charlie) Perry was the official United States Coast Guard Band. He played in the Concert Band and was the First Drummer in the Swing Band, radio and Show Band.
More importantly, Charlie Perry played with Benny Goodman, Stan Kenton, Buddy Morrow, Skitch Henderson, Alvino Rey, Stan Getz, Al Haig, and Woody Herman.
He has played in some well known small modern jazz groups with the likes of Stan Getz, Kai Winding, Al Haig, and Bud Powell. While in Bud Powell’s the later groups, Charles played with Gene Ramey on Bass, Wardell Gray, and Sonny Stitt on tenors. Bud played piano.
Charlie Perry has also recorded for Capitol, Mercury, RCA Victor, and Columbia Records and played for artists on these records including Patti Page, Kitty Kalen, Teddi King, and many others. He has also made many jazz records with Stan Getz, Al Haig, Wardell Gray, Johnny LaPorta and other jazz stars of the day.
Charlie has studied with many teachers including Alfred Friese at the Manhattan School of Music, Billy Gladstone of Radio City Music Hall, and Henry Adler.
Sadly, Charles Perry died in 1998.
I was first introduced to Charles Perry by a fellow drummer and close high school friend of mine. He had studied with Charlie and mentioned that he would be good for me. I remember calling his home studio. He picked up the phone, we chatted a bit, and scheduled our first lesson together.
Charles Perry was my second private drum instructor. I began my first private lessons in 1966 when I was 11, after one year prior of drum lessons in public elementary school, where I was in the Orchestra.
When I started taking lessons from Charlie, I was older, more mature, and more focused as a drummer, and I certainly got a lot more out my time with him than my previous instructor.
I enjoyed many private lessons with Charles that were conducted in his home in Rockville Center, New York, located just off the Southern State Parkway on Long Island. His home was a typical Long Island house – a split level not unlike the one I grew up in a few miles away in East Meadow.
His drum studio was in the lower level of his home and consisted of his desk and his drum kit. It was pretty austere and bare bones by today’s standards. He had a stereo, sound system, and a couple of tape decks which included a 1/4″ reel-to-reel tape recorder. There was nothing extraordinary about the space. But it was Charlie Perry and that’s all that mattered to me.
He was always well-dressed and wore a sports jacket most of the time. His style of teaching was very structured and our lessons were very regimented. I think that was good for me since my previous instructor was so loosey-goosey. Charlie would introduce new concepts and figures to me and then I’d practice them in front of him. That was nerve wracking since I would get the occasional comment from him that my wrists were too tight or that I needed to slow down. He would annotate the books and he would write out special figures and concepts in my notebook that I still refer to today.
I invite anyone who has worked or studied with Charlie Perry to contribute this post by adding your comments below.