Any drummer that grew up during the ’70s should be able to recreate Chuck Ruff’s iconic drum solo on the Edgar Winter’s 1972 hit “Frankenstein” note-for-note.
And while his infamous contribution to the drumming vocabulary is timeless, Ruff sadly passed away yesterday in San Francisco after battling a long illness. He was 60.
Born in Reno, Nevada on May 25, 1951, Ruff drummed with a group named Sawbuck, also featuring a young Ronnie Montrose, which released an album on the Fillmore label in 1972.
A short time later, Ruff and Montrose would go on to become founding members of Edgar Winter Group, with whom the drummer recorded such enormously popular albums as They Only Come Out At Night and Shock Treatment.
Ruff’s “Frankenstein” solo is arguably the drummer’s high water mark. It begins with Ruff trading licks with Winter, who echoes the drummer’s riffs on a set of timbales. Ruff continues shredding in 6/8 while Winter continues the duet on synthesizer, and finally returns to timbales. Few people realize that Ruff was responsible for naming the song, inspired by the fact that the final version was spliced together from several jams that took place in the studio.
After leaving Winter’s band, Ruff joined Sammy Hagar’s outfit in 1977. “I lost one of my old bandmates, Chuck Ruff,” Hagar said in a released statement. “Chuck was my drummer on Danger Zone and Street Machine and many, many live tours together. I have only memories of great times and great music with Chuck. My condolences to his family, friends and loved ones.”