Rick Latham, Drummer, Composer, Writer, Producer. In a recent interview, Modern Drummer magazine, defined him as one to be considered among the very finest clinicians worldwide. More so, his book “Advanced Funk Studies” to be among the best 25 drum books ever published. And by the way… He performs with winning artist Juice Newton and shared the stage with BB King and Quincy Jones among others just to name a few… take a peak at his website www.ricklatham.com or anywhere on the web.
Rick: I’m originally from Columbia, South Carolina. When I was about 12 years old, my Brother (Bill, who is 4 years older) was just starting to be active in the local High School marching band (playing Sousaphone).
This particular School (Brookland Cayce High School) Marching Band just happened to be the State Champion Marching Band for at least 10 years or so and It was a real honor and privilege if you were in the band… very strict and High quality. Bill had many friends that played various instruments and they used to hang out at our house and often practice for the weeks upcoming halftime show, for the Friday Night Football Games. One of his friends happened to play drum and also piano and we began to jam together often at his place or ours This is where it all started…
Rick: My parents were super supportive!!!!!!! They were also into the whole team effort kind of thing that the Marching Band environment offered and I believe they could also see that I was totally dedicated and had a passion for drumming and music in general.
Photo by Neil Zlozower
Sergio: did you attend any music schools and if so which one?
Rick: after graduating High School and being deeply involved already in Marching Band, Concert Band, Symphonic Orchestra and Jazz Band. I attended East Carolina University (in Greenville North Carolina) for my Bachelors Degree and studied percussion under Harold A. Jones. Harold became a real mentor for me… This Man was incredible in every way… Musician, Person, Family Guy, etc, etc. I still cannot say enough about him. I studied Snare Drum, Tympani and Mallets. Also the Jazz Band director at ECU (George Broussard) was instrumental (pardon the pun) in my development as a jazz player.
George exposed use to all the standards, and contemporaries, at that time… Ellington, Basie, Kenton, Woody, Buddy, Louie, Kenton, Maynard, Don Ellis, etc. etc.
Then after ECU, I was granted a Full Scholarship and Teaching Assistantship position at North Texas State University (now University of North Texas) where I worked on my Masters Degree. At North Texas, I studied Percussion and Mallets with Robert Schietroma, Tympani and Drumset with Ron Fink and also Drumset with Jim Hall. Studying with all of the fine players really fine tuned my skills even more to feel comfortable in every and any musical situation. I was also actually teaching Percussion Ensemble, Snare Drum and Mallets to undergrads at this time as part of my teaching assistantship duties and performing in the famous Jazz Lab Bands, Symphony Orchestra, Concert Band, and Graduate Percussion Ensemble. As well as writing and teaching for the now infamous Drumline at UNT…
Rick: the first time I played out I was actually underage!!!!!! in my mid teens specifically and played with some local R&B and Soul Bands in Columbia, SC… I also played local Junior High and High School dances with my first Rock Band (The Hypertentious Amoeba) Had a revolving Christmas Tree light inside my bass drum and the whole deal… very cool at that time…Ha…!
Rick: of course, there are many musicians that have and continue to inspire me… if I had to name the most inspirational… (not in any particular order) they would be, Buddy Rich, Harold Jones, Louie Bellson, Joe Morello, Ed Shaughnessy, Steve Gadd, David Garibaldi, Eric Clapton, David Sanborn, Billy Cobham, Harvey Mason, Peter Erskine, James Taylor, Bob James, Jim Keltner, Tom Scott, John Guerin, Jeff Porcaro, Bernard Purdie, Greg Errico, Don Brewer, Chopin, Ron Bushy and many others.
Rick: I don’t really thing I changed styles so much over the year but more, refined my style. I always loved Soul, Funk and R&B music, growing up in the South and playing with many black musicians and listening to this style on the radio, but I have also always been in to Jazz, Big Band, BeBoop, Straight Ahead, etc. Fusion, Latin, etc; Funk, Soul and R&B are still my first love!
Rick: I really like Big Band music and don’t get to do that too often… I’m actually a great Big Band Drummer… I used to do a lot of that but don’t get a chance much anymore… except for an occasional studio date or live show or something…
I’m a very good reader and love the feeling of Kicking a Big Band…!
Rick: I think I first realized this in undergrad school at ECU. I started to play a lot of gigs with older musicians (as the new Hot Kid In Town) and I think it was then that I realized, this is what a professional musician does, play music for all sorts of things.
I then begin of thinking about playing, teaching, and performing for a living.
Rick: that is a great question and one I feel could be answered in several ways. However, the one thing that has always motivated me is the feeling that I get because I know that I am doing what I really have a passion to do and have a talent for doing and feel good every time I do it. I always say… “The Drums and Music Have Never Let Me Down” whenever I play music, I can truly tune out the rest of the world and life in general. It makes me feel good… and it makes other feel good…
I also have to remind my wife and kids… “I’m a Drummer, Not a Plumber”… That’s what I do… It’s always best to call a professional.
Rick: currently, I am living in Milano, Italy (which I really love) traveling, recording and playing with various artists all over Europe. I’m teaching locally here in Milano and have several very nice live projects that are getting considerable attention.
I am also always working on new instructional material… books and DVDs and writing and recording a new solo record that I hope will be released later this year or early 2016.
Rick: never give up! Whatever your choice might be, be sure to do it with heart and soul and to quote Ray Charles: “I don’t want to be famous, I want to be great”.