SCOTT MUZZEY DRUM BIOGRAPHY

My name is Scott Muzzey and I am a drummer.

When I was in the 4th grade, we had the opportunity to join either the band or the orchestra. So off we went to the introduction they had at my school, to sign people up for musical training. Initially, I was to play the coronet, as we already had one. However, I was not really happy about playing the coronet. I wanted to play the drums, as I remember always watching Buddy Rich on the Johnny Carson Show. The drums excited me.

The people at the introduction to band had everyone try out their preferred instrument of choice. They had me play the coronet, so they could evaluate me. Their determination? I had messed up teeth (my mum was born and raised in Britain) so the coronet was out. Actually, because every band instrument required one to blow into a mouthpiece or a reed, every band instrument was excluded from my mouth, except the drums. Once I heard this, I remember thinking “don’t look too excited, don’t give it away!” I got signed up to play the drums that night. I think I even received my Ludwig Acrolite 14″x5″ Snare drum, stand, drum sticks & practice pad all in a case that weighed 200 pounds, or at least it seemed to weigh that much as a 4th grader.

So from the 4th grade until 9th grade (Freshman year in High School), I learned the drum rudiments, or at least 26 of them. Over time, I learned other percussion instruments. The crash cymbals were always the best I thought. I played the bass drum in our local Lilac Parade in 8th grade. I played in the Junior High School Orchestra for a couple of concerts when they needed percussion. I got sick of being yelled at for not being able to tune tympani to certain pitches. I knew rhythm, not pitches. Eventually, it lost its glamor. I quit when I was 14.

One day when I was 11 or 12, my mum asked me, “would you like a drum set?”. “Um, yes please!” We looked in the local trading times paper and found one in Chicago. I believe she paid $150 or so and we got a Ludwig 4 piece kit. A bass drum, a rack tom, a floor tom and a snare, a hi-hat, a ride cymbal and a crash cymbal. The cymbals were Paiste. The drums were all dated 1966 on their interiors and were Champagne Pink Sparkle on their exteriors. I wish I had it today, probably worth $3000?

I was taught 26 drum rudiments back in the school band, but I never once took a lesson for the drum set. I could read drum music, so I purchased a couple books and learned the drum set rudiments, so to speak. Everything I know on a drum kit, I taught myself.

I loved that drum kit. As a side note, I did hate the Paiste cymbals from the start though. I was used to Zildjians and these were cheaper Paiste cymbals. To this day I still do not like Paiste cymbals. I did not play the drum set much at first, until I learned to put headphones on and play along to albums. I remember I listened a lot to Steve Miller’s Greatest Hits to learn some beats. Then Van Halen. Then The Who. Then I found Rush. I was a hardcore Rush fan for the next 8 years or so. I played along to entire Rush albums, but then back then it was easier to do as there were only two sides. We musicians got to be experts at putting the turntable needle down at the exact spot we needed.

I did also eventually hate that Ludwig 4 piece kit. Why? Because it was NOT a giant Neil Peart sized drum set! I wanted to be Neil. Every time I played 2112 or Hemispheres, I heard Neil’s concert toms and I did not have them. Over time I bought a set of Roto Toms to add and try to replicate Rush’s drummer. Seeing Rush in 1980 (Permanent Waves Tour) did not help this situation.

In my town, it seems everyone wanted to be a rock star as we had more than our fair share of musicians. Mostly guitarists, which was fine by me, but also a few keyboardists and one or two bass players. There were a few other drummers, who kept me on my toes. On the street I lived, we had several musicians. So I jammed a lot with these people, and over time, that sphere of people I jammed with grew. I eventually started to jam with two brothers for a couple of three years in high school. We played parties and even had a gig at FermiLab.

During my senior year at high school, the worse thing ever to happen, happened. I fell and as I put my hands out to brace myself, I landed on top of a water glass that had been on the floor. Well that changed my life forever. The glass cut my right wrist open to the bone, severing the carpal nerve, five tendons and one branch artery. Emergency surgery and a half a year of therapy saved my life (not to mention my sister) and my hand. I never gave up because I wanted to play the drums again. In fact, once I progress enough along with the therapy, I started to play the drums again. The doctors all told me that it was probably the best therapy for me. I do not have feeling in most of my right hand. But that does not stop my right hand from drumming!

After high school, I went to University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and somewhat stopped playing. I also started working full time at restaurants about this time. The working kind of interfered with school, so I quit school. One day, the brothers who I had previously played with, called asking if I wanted to join their band. The band in question was a heavy metal band who played the local bars. One caveat, I needed a new drum set. So my mum once again came through. She co-signed for a loan I took out to buy my first “real” drum set.

I bought a 9 piece Tama White Imperialstar drum set with double bass drums. I bought Zildjian hi-hats, a ride cymbal and 3 crash cymbals. I bought hard cases for the drums and cymbals and a trap case for the stands. I loved that drum set. Unlike the Ludwig, I never stopped loving that drum set. I consider that drum set, my “first kid”.

I got a phone call from one of the brothers. “Do you want to start tomorrow?” “YES!” “OK, cool. One thing though. We are backing up Paradox tomorrow night at the Thirsty Whale. Here are the songs you need to learn. Can you do it?” “YES!!!” I played at the Thirsty Whale the next night and had my first taste of a Gene & Jude hot dog, my favorite Chicago hot dog to this day.

I played in the band, Hedstone, for 2 and a half years. We played out most weekends. We even had a “home bar” that we played at every month. Tony Labarbera, who booked the Thirsty Whale, produced two albums of local bands and Hedstone made it onto one of those albums. I can actually say I am on vinyl. Search on YouTube and you can find the audio.

In 1986, I got my girlfriend knocked up. I was going to marry her, and I needed to “buckle down” and get serious if I were to be a father, so I took a hiatus from the band. A hiatus that lasted almost 30 years. I got divorced a couple times and raised several kids during that hiatus. I regret nothing as I have the most awesome kids and now grandkids.

Sometime around 2015, a dear old friend invited me to come over to his house and “make some noise”. I jumped at the chance as I had not played with someone in about 10+ years at that point. We made it an every other Friday night thing. Then another old friend who played guitar joined. Then a singer and a keyboardist. We had a band. Best of all? I jammed with most of them back in high school as a kid. I knew them for decades! Some had been in cover and tribute bands that had played out over a thousand times.

I am now back in! During the time off, I thought a lot about things, such as grooving versus technical playing, and taught myself things things, such as the history of the drum set and how drummers play. I started listening to jazz and the blues and rap and other types of music. I have mixed all that I know, all what I have experienced and all that I have learned into the drummer I am today.