Fred Below, the R n B Beats drummer magician

The world of R & B greatly appreciates Fred Below elevating the status of the genre. Drumming R n B beats has already required a more subtle approach.

Fred Below
Fred Below

Before the emergence of Motown’s Funk Brothers or Stax’s M.G.’s, the drummer has been a pivotal point in shaping the music in the mid-20th century. Fred Below had a unique style of delivering on-point sounds that made him a recognizable part of the entire music industry.

He did not just play drums because they were there to be played; he did because it was his way of expressing emotions. Whenever he was behind the sticks, it felt as though the drums were telling what was in his head.

He was featured among the looser collections of label-assembles session musicians. As a key member of Ace, Fred added his tasteful and easily forceful work for Class Records in Chicago. 

He was actively involved in fueling the music of Little Walter, Muddy Water, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, and Howlin’s Wolf, taking each one of them to new heights. Fred was one drummer who was always interested in the success of other first. This could be the reason he was highly sort after, for his selflessness helped take many musicians to great levels.

Fred Below In Studio
Fred Below In Studio

Below started out as a jazz drummer, where he learned the subtle approach to drumming. He hit them easily, and yet with power that produced that most amazing sounds.

As if that is not enough, he was an inventor who learned to install new ideas into his drumming needs. Whenever he was behind the sticks, it was to offer nothing to buy a new approach to pieces he was working on. From Jazz, he was able to work his own way into blues, without seeking help from anyone.

It was his self-teaching methods that made Fred a key member of every project he worked on. He learned to be independent and always think beyond the obvious. With his dedication to drumming and focus on improving, Below managed to build a reputation than would go on across generations.

Fred describes himself as an explorer who always wanted to discover something new. He was attracted to blues because “it was a type of music that he was not familiar with, and they did not teach it in school.” With this in mind, he approached the music “in a way that would make sense to me.”

In other words, playing blues stirred something new in the Below, encouraging him to discover new things in the music industry. Even though the genre had been around for a while, the drummer was ready to bring out sides that had never been discovered yet.

Fred Below On Stage
Fred Below On Stage

When you listen to Muddy Water’s “I’m Ready,” or Chuck Berry’s “School Days,” you will understand just how deep his mastery had gone. Below’s range and virtuosic touch come out clearly in these pieces.

They don’t show any fuss or flourish, as Below used them to fuel Chess’ electric-blues engine. His styles have always remained unique across the genre.

What do you think?

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Written by Andrea

Andrea is a music lover and an experienced drummer with more than 15 years of drumming with different bands and music projects, such as Seditius and Hermano & the Marines.

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