Through the years, we’ve gotten some interesting requests, including “the video” of the 1938 Benny Goodman Carnegie Hall Concert and “the video” of the 1952 “Gene versus Buddy” drum battle. But what people have asked for the most is more video of Buddy Rich on “The Tonight Show.” 

It is not totally common knowledge that for some years, Johnny Carson only owned “The Tonight Show” programs from 1980 on. It wasn’t until relatively recently that he made a deal with NBC, and that deal gave him sole ownership to every “Tonight Show” in existence. Although few programs exist on tape before 1969-1970, there’s plenty of absolutely prime Buddy Rich in the decade of the 1970s. We are in the process of offering some of it on 

Our association with Mr. Carson and his office was always wonderful. When it came to Buddy, the Carson people were quite generous. Johnny Carson, by the way, was my first choice of narrator for “Buddy Rich: Jazz Legend.” I almost had him, but he decided against it. 

Taking all this into account, the good folks at Hudson Music, and yours truly, recently came up with what we believed was one heck of an idea. The concept? Buddy Rich drum solos from “The Tonight Show.” No music, no talking (maybe just a little), just Buddy doing solo after solo after solo. That is why we watched him, wasn’t it? And with over 60 “Tonight Show” appearances, there would be no shortage of material. What a DVD this would make. 

I contacted the same folks I dealt with in the Carson office years ago. Way back when, they were great, open, generous and helpful. After Mr. Carson passed, however, these same folk “turned.” Like curdling milk. They suddenly told us that “absolutely none of this material” was available for licensing, especially after they heard our idea. 

Wow. None of it. And no reason given, except mention was made of the fact that “it’s a shame that much of this music will go unheard.” Not only is that a disgrace, but it’s bull. 

I believe that while Johnny Carson was alive, he saw to it that all of the available “Tonight Shows” would be preserved–and viewed–exactly as they were aired. I’m sure he didn’t want three decades of timeless material cut-up, ala “The Best of Motown on Ed Sullivan.” Well, I get the very strong sense that’s going to happen, which is the only possible reason I can think of to flat-out refuse us the opportunity to license Buddy Rich footage. 

I remember years back trying to make a deal for footage of Buddy with The Boston Pops. They wanted $60,000 for two minutes’ worth of film. I told them that no one had $60,000 and that my fear was that the film that existed would eventually turn to dust. I remember this gentlemen’s reply. “Yes, it will turn to dust,” he said. 

If you want to see this material–and it must be seen–I urge you to log on to and e-mail the folks in charge. All you have to say is “we want to see Buddy Rich.” I know I do. 

Bruce Klauber

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