You turn to us for voices you won't hear anywhere else.

Sign up for Democracy Now!'s Daily Digest to get our latest headlines and stories delivered to your inbox every day.

“I Became a Comedian Because of Max Roach”–Bill Cosby Remembers His Favorite Jazz Drummer

Media Options

Comedian Bill Cosby paid tribute to Max Roach at his funeral on Friday. “Why I became a comedian is because of Max Roach,” Cosby said. “I wanted to be a drummer.” [includes rush transcript]

  • Bill Cosby, speaking at the funeral of jazz pioneer, Max Roach.

Related Story

StoryMar 21, 2024“Humanitarian Violence” in Gaza: Architect Eyal Weizman on Mapping Israel’s “Genocidal Campaign”
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Max Roach died last week at the age of eighty-three. He died of Alzheimer’s. Bill Cosby also paid tribute to Max Roach at his funeral at Riverside Church. He said, “Why I became a comedian is because of Max Roach. I wanted to be a drummer.” Cosby went on to recall how he spent $75 on a drum set and then tried to imitate his favorite jazz drummers.

BILL COSBY: Art Blakey came to town. And Art Blakey sat down, and I watched. Doo-da-doo be-shok! And I saw him. He hit it twice. Shzook! And he hit it so fast that it came out shzok! I said, “Ah-ha! I got you now, Art Blakey!” And I went home, and I looked at the drum and the sticks, and I said, da-da da-da shzok!, and it came out shzok! on the snare. Got you! Ha ha!

Then bought a LP. Max Roach and sp-da-da-da da da-ba-ba-ba-baa! Da-da-da-da da da-da-da-da daa! Fa-da-da-da-da da-da — and I kept — I kept falling behind. It was ba-da-da-baa tsooee — and then the left hand — the left hand said, “Look, you play, and because” — and the right hand said, “Well, if you play, then I know — I lose,” and said, “Well, just fill boom!, hit the base drum and then try to catch up and, oh, just do something.” And they kept playing — de-ba-da-ba-da da-dwi-bi-di-da, oh-ji-ba-da-bla oollllll blllllll dllllll blllllll bop!

Max Roach came to town. He came to the Showboat. And I sat there. Max came out, had a blue blazer on with some kind of crest. I was with my boys from the projects. And one of my boys said, “Max got a boat.” And the musicians did — da-bleen-din-dol-ding-dol-din-blorp-worp, ha-da-ha-da. And Max sat down, and his face never changed. He took both sticks, and he said, bash, bash, fa-di-di-di-di-di-di-di-di-daa, da-da-da-daa-da-da-da-da-daa, vi-di-di-di-di-di-di-di-di-daa, va-di-di-di-di — and I went home. It was no tricks. Nothing I could take.

When I finally met him in person to the point where Max Roach knew who I was, and he came over to me, he said, “Bill Cosby!” I said, “Let me tell you something. You owe me $75.”

AMY GOODMAN: Bill Cosby at the funeral of Max Roach.

The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.

Next story from this daily show

“I Have Seen Him at Work Moving in the Bloodstream of his People”–Poet Sonia Sanchez Remembers Max Roach

Non-commercial news needs your support

We rely on contributions from our viewers and listeners to do our work.
Please do your part today.
Make a donation