Harry J. Brabec (1927-2005) was a percussionist and virtuoso snare drummer greatly admired by his peers not only for his talents as a musician, but for his keen sense of humor and gutsy approach to life. His name became legend when, at the peak of his career as Principal Percussionist of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1956, Fritz Reiner dismissed him for purely personal reasons, effectively destroying his career and leading to the failure of...
Harry J. Brabec (1927-2005) was a percussionist and virtuoso snare drummer greatly admired by his peers not only for his talents as a musician, but for his keen sense of humor and gutsy approach to life. His name became legend when, at the peak of his career as Principal Percussionist of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1956, Fritz Reiner dismissed him for purely personal reasons, effectively destroying his career and leading to the failure of his first marriage.
Barbara met and married Harry in 1961. Beat by beat in this autobiographic narrative and biography, she tells his comeback story as a freelance percussionist in Chicago in the sixties, then flashes back to his career before they met before going on to tell how her career path and their marriage changed when life forced Harry to move in new entrepreneurial directions in the seventies and beyond.
The Drummer Drives! offers a unique view of a colorful period of Chicago’s musical entertainment history that is spiced with romance, drama, and Harry’s wit and humor. The book revolves around the author’s lifetime of journals and Harry’s scrapbooks and nostalgic letters, which are filled with historical “music biz” stories and remembrances of the days when he was playing with the big bands and doing recordings in Chicago; his comments about many of the musicians, entertainers, and conductors he worked with; his thoughts on being Czech; his love of good food, fine books, record collecting, band music and the circus; and how he felt about getting old and being forced to lay down his sticks because of ill health. The book also includes colorful anecdotes shared by many musicians who knew and worked with Harry.
There is much to enjoy in this informative and humor-laden memoir, but you may also find yourself tearing up at times as you read this honestly-told story of the author’s unusual life journey with a man who was “no ordinary Joe,” an individual so complex that she was still trying to figure him out after nearly 44 years of marriage and five years as his widow.
Barbara Brabec is the author of several small business books. This is her first memoir.
Chicago Federation of Musicians newsletter
- Gary Matts, President, Chicago Federation of Musicians Local 10-208
"Barbara's touching story of her life with Harry is an enjoyable read. Their love for one another speaks on every page. This is a true life tale of the travails of life with a freelance musician as only those who have lived it can tell it. The Drummer Drives! is a wonderfully well written documentation of a time in Chicago's musical entertainment history that is gone forever."
Percussive Notes, newsletter of the Percussive Arts Society
- Tom Morgan
"...a delightful biography of Harry Brabec... this deeply personal book recounts in great detail the life of a freelance drummer/percussionist. This book is a story of perseverance, creativity, fortitude in the face of great challenges, and a love commitment between a husband and wife that weathered storms and celebrated victories. It is full of humor and wit from Harry Brabec himself ... It also chronicles what the music business is like and what it takes to 'make it.'"
Chicago Symphony Orchestra Insider's Newsletter
- Newsletter Editor
"Barbara Brabec, widow of former CSO percussionist Harry Brabec, has written a colorful and deeply personal memoir about her late husband's life, including his tenure with the CSO and his often stormy relationship with Music Director Fritz Reiner.THE DRUMMER DRIVES! Everybody Else Rides recounts a thirty-year period of Chicago's musical entertainment history, offering amusing anecdotes shared by friends and musicians who knew or worked with Harry."
- Rob Cook
"As a publisher specializing in percussion history, I regularly receive drummer biography manuscripts. More often than not, they either do not have much of a story to tell or do not tell it very well. It is very refreshing to see one that made it to print that not only has something to say, but says it well."
on the web
- Fred Lewis, Conductor
"This book is a real find for any musician. As a conductor, I had the pleasure of working with Harry for a number of years, and I found him to be not only an interesting guy but a helluva musician.The book describes Brabec's up-and-down life as a freelance musician and his many years of working with so many players. Anyone with an a desire to learn of what goes on as you work for that next job will enjoy this outstanding book written by the only one who really knew Harry and his work.
BARBARA BRABEC is the author of eight home-business books, two of which—CREATIVE CASH and HOMEMADE MONEY—have enjoyed a very long life as best-sellers and recognized classics in their respective fields. When widowed in 2005 after nearly 44 years of marriage, Barbara began to reinvent herself on the Web, gradually retiring from active involvement in the crafts and home-business industries to focus on her new work in the booming self-publishing industry. Since then, she has received high acclaim for her book manuscript editing and critiquing services, as well as her special consulting services for authors and new self-publishers.
In 2010, Barbara successfully transitioned from a home business writer to memoirist and storyteller with the publication of the paperback edition of this book. Today, in addition to her regular work with authors and self-publishers, her focus is on bringing her lifetime of writing on a wide range of topics to the attention of a vast new audience of eBook readers.
Visit BarbaraBrabec.com for Barbara’s complete author bio and contact information, details about her new and forthcoming eBooks, her professional services for authors, and a rich archive of articles and resources that reflect her professional experience and personal interests, philosophy, and beliefs. While on the site, you may wish to join Barbara’s mailing list to receive the BRABEC BULLETIN by e-mail.