Don Henley strolled into our store on a Sunday afternoon

Don Henley strolled into our store on a Sunday afternoon.

excerpt “History of the Groove, drummer’s story”

Russell Buddy Helm © 2013 all rights reserved


Don Henley strolled into our store on a Sunday afternoon. He checked out the drums, “I’ve just been setting up my home studio again. Vacuumed the carpet….probably got enough to last another ten years..”. We both laughed. “I want to have that atmosphere where we used to just play. You know?”

I did know. “These djembes will give you that state of grace.” I said simply.

“Yea!” He enthused, “Grace! That’s the word I was looking for!”

Great. I just gave Don Henley his next million seller.

He sat down and I put some African djembes around him. He seemed perplexed. “How do you play them?” he said, seriously interested, drummer to drummer. No rock star bullshit.

I gently popped the standing drum, quickly lifting a deep tone out of the middle of the goatskin head then hovering above the head, ready for the next downbeat. “Flat, just use your whole hand; fingertips and heel…”

Then he stopped me from teaching him. “No.”  He said.”Never mind.” Of course…I could not dare to teach him how to play the drums. He was an expert rock star drummer/singer/songwriter/asshole. Although at this moment he was being pretty nice.

“OK.” He said, “I’ll take ’em.”  He mumbled.

“Which ones?” I asked.

“All of them, man.”

He strolled around our tiny shop. He picked up a copy of my unpublished manuscript, ‘Let the Goddess Dance’.

“What’s this?”

“It’s my book, about drumming. There is a CD that goes with it.” He put it on the pile of things to buy.

“No I don’t want the CD. I don’t want to get busted for stealing somebody’s music.”

“That’s right. You guys never got busted for lifting somebody’s music.” I said with my slightly accusing tone.

“What do you mean?” he said defensively.

“Nothing.” I said but I was thinking of ‘One of these nights’ in particular which was a pretty good cop of Al Green.

He also bought one of my oil landscape paintings I painted with all my fingertips tapping instead of a brush. It is pointilist style.  Very dreamy, English countryside. He handed me a card.

“Here. If this one explodes I have another one. I’ll be back.”

He wandered out and came back about an hour later. He looked at the total, faked a heart attack then signed the receipt.

“My roadie will be by tomorrow to pick them up.”

“If you want me to tune them, or play them, just le….”

“Yea, yea. I’ll call you..” He said with a wave as he headed for the door.

“Wait a minute, Don…” I said. He stopped.


“New pants?” I asked.

“Yea. Why?”

I reached down and pulled off the sizing strip stuck to the ass of his new jeans.

He walked out and I realized that he had just bought a copy of my manuscript, uncopyrighted. I got on the stick right away and got it published with Llewellyn Worldwide. Thanks Don. Your roadie looks more like a rock star than you do. If I listened to the Eagles I might find some lyrical ideas lifted from my book but what am I gonna do; sue the Eagles? I’d rather not listen to them. It’s not that I don’t respect what they’ve done. I am still looking for the mystery in the music.

It didn’t take long for Llewellyn Worldwide publishing to realize that they had a best seller on their hands; that is, in the New Age market. They changed the title to “Drumming the Spirit to Life” but kept the CD included in the book as “Let the Goddess Dance”. I wrote a song by that title on it intended to become a New Age Anthem where I played all the instruments and sang. I was free to do what I wanted. I was not in the music business anymore. I was not just a drummer working to make hit songs for someone else. I was an author. Drumming had not yet arrived as a national pastime. I was ahead of the wave on this one. I was positioned for a long ride, only I had to watch myself. My tendency to speak bluntly was always a risk. I had to really watch my rock n roll mouth at the New Age conventions. They were busy  trying to bring in the light; ignore and suppress the dark. Although I sympathized with this one sided approach to meditation and healing, I also knew that if you don’t come to terms with your own shadow, it will sneak up and bite you on the ass when you least expect it. I had a few teeth marks on my derriere.

excerpt “History of the Groove, drummer’s story”

Russell Buddy Helm © 2013 all rights reserved



This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.