Buddy Harman

Born: December 23, 1928 in Nashville, Tennessee

Died: August 21, 2008 in Nashville, Tennessee

Buddy Harman is one drummer who can make that rare claim of being an originator, of creating something where there was nothing before him. As the man who literally invented the style of country drumming, Harman played on some of the most important hits of the 1950s and ’60s, and was a primary influence on generations of drummers who picked up the style in his wake.

A native of Nashville, Tennessee, the drum-obsessed Harman spent his early years listening to jazz and big bands (country music did not yet incorporate his instrument). After a stint in the military, he took advantage of the G.I. Bill to study at the legendary Roy C. Knapp School of Percussion in Chicago, where he befriended another future studio legend, Hal Blaine.Returning to Nashville in the early 1950s, Harman found a music industry on the verge of some big changes. Record producers were just beginning to warm to the idea of using drums, and with his empathic and subtle style, Harman became their man of choice. In just a few years, he established his place as a core member of Nashville’s now legendary “A-Team.” This group of session elites played on literally hundreds of hits, not only from country acts like Patsy Cline, Ray Price, and Brenda Lee, but also with seminal rockabilly and rock’n’roll artists like Roy Orbison, the Everly Brothers, and Simon & Garfunkel.In all, Harman played on more than eighteen thousand sessions (including the soundtracks to all thirty-three Elvis movies), and broke other barriers in the world of country drumming (he was, for example, the first house drummer allowed on the “Grand Ole Opry”). Many of the legendary beats he created—from the stomping intro on Roy Orbison’s “Pretty Woman” to the march of Johnny Horton’s “The Battle of New Orleans” and the signature one-brush/one-stick shuffle that graces Tammy Wynette’s “Stand By Your Man”—are still broadcast the world over on a daily basis.