Ray Reilly


Introduction to: George L. Stone & Ray Reilly
By Fred Johnson
Toronto 1960… I was teaching several Drum Corps. My mind was full of rudimental thoughts and combinations. However, I was not satisfied with what I had learned to-date and had passed on through teaching.

Unfortunately, in Toronto at that time, rudimental excellence was basically self-taught. Something kept nagging me to find out more about rudimental drumming and the musicality related to it. I was also playing drum set and wanted to learn more about coordinated hand-independence.

During a conversation with Bill Sheppard at the Whaley Royce store on Yonge Street, Bill told me that there was this “guy” – a graduate of the Stone’s Percussion School in Boston – who had opened up a drum teaching studio in Toronto (at that time I had no idea who Stone was). So… North on Yonge Street I go to number 803… climb up the stairs to the 2nd floor – where I met Ray Reilly. I told him I was basically one of those “rudimental” guys in search of something I didn’t know how to describe. After talking to Ray, I decided to become a student. So… off I went to Drummers Paradise at 59 Queen St., E., and bought two books: Stick Control by Geo. L. Stone and Advanced Techniques for the Modern Drummer by Jim Chapin. That evening, having glanced through the two books, I realized that my overall drumming knowledge was somewhat limited – to say the least.

Back to the studio… me and my big arms, hard hands and big sticks… facing off with this teacher with not-so-big arms… small sticks… and the fastest damn hands I had ever seen. I still remember watching the “Reilly grin” as I would stumble through those exercises and independent combinations. He changed my drumming life for-the-better – and forever. The students and drum ensembles I have since-taught have directly benefited from my experience with Ray. I got to know Ray pretty well. He and his drumming buddy Alex Collello (Alex was from Toronto and had graduated from the Stone school) were a lot of fun and passed on a ton of information to me. However, I had to figure out a way to get rid of that “Reilly grin” at the end of the lesson… so got them both to stand up and rip off Connecticut Halftime at 120 bpms.

Ray has been a member of CADRE since 1996. He has always been a supporter and fan of quality rudimental drumming. Ray has attended and participated in most of the CADRE Shakes. He never ceases – or hesitates – to pass on “sage” advice when any of us need it.
In 1958, Ray wrote a book entitled “Power Speed and Flexibility” which was originally published by BMI Canada. Ray now “owns the plates” and has republished. This book was well ahead of it’s time – especially in the Canadian context. Some of the exercises will look familiar to you; they are currently in use by modern drum corps. The solos are rudimental, musical and tough. This Canadian classic will be revisited shortly via a book review.
I asked Ray if he would write an article based on his experience taking lessons from Geo. L. Stone and Billy Gladstone, and how he met and drummed with Joe Morello. Ray’s piece, entitled “George L. Stone & Ray Reilly” follows.