Approval Addiction and the Best Compliment Ever

John Ortberg in his book The Life You’ve Always Wanted writes “Psychiatrist David Burns notes that it is not another person’s compliment or approval that makes us feel good; rather it is our belief that there is validity to the compliment.”

As a drummer, I’m complimented somewhat regularly with “You’re a regular Gene Krupa” or “Nice job Buddy Rich” or something like that. John and Jane Q. Public know those two drummers, and so when they want to compliment a drummer, those names come up. Those compliments mean nothing to me. I don’t think my drumming is anything like Gene Krupa’s. He is not an influence in how I play. Buddy Rich? I’ve said before that I’m not a good enough drummer to carry his sweaty towels. He was a MONSTER player, but so far above me with his technique that there’s nothing in me that’s remotely sounding of Buddy.

One night I was playing a gig in Camden. It was a private party, a Christmas party I believe. BIG house. We played upstairs. At one point the host said to me “You sound like Shelly Manne.” Now THAT was a compliment. There was VALIDITY to that compliment. Shelly Manne I HAVE studied. Shelly’s name isn’t going to be dropped randomly like Gene or Buddy or Ringo. Obviously this guy knows a thing or two about Jazz and Jazz drumming , and has the ears to know that there is some Shelly Manne in my playing. There are things I do in my playing because of Shelly. He is an actual influence on my playing. And so, because of the credibility of that compliment, I remember it to this day. And it makes me feel good to know that at one point at least someone appreciated my drumming on a deeper level than say the way my Mom loves my drumming.

Not much spirituality in today’s post; it’s mostly about drumming. But hey, let’s praise Him with resounding cymbals. 🙂

One Comment


    Hi Billy–My uncle Bob Ramsey was the inventor of the Ghost Drum Pedal. I had read your postings sometime ago and just ran onto three newspaper articles I have from 1951, 1969 and about 1974-75. They may fill in a few blanks in your research. I am terrible at e-mailing but I could copy and mail them to you if you would like. I would love to share this information with you. Why the brochure said he first manufactured in the mid-west I cannot imagine. But he began in Eugene, Oregon and at one point did it from his home in Springfield, Oregon before moving to another commercial shop in Springfield which basically runs together with Eugene. My brother assembled pedals for him but he has passed away. These articles are fairly detailed and came from the Eugene-Springfield local newspapers. One has a picture of Cozy Cole–Louis Arrnstrong’s drummer at Bob’s home. Another has a picture of uncle Bob when he was 65. Please let me now if I can share them with you. Thanks for carrying on the legend! He worked hard for many years!!

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