Jazz Drummer, DJ Bud Spangler Dies at 74
Bud Spangler, a jazz drummer and longtime San Francisco radio host who produced several Grammy-nominated albums, died last week in Oakland. The cause of death was not available. He was 74.
Mr. Spangler, whose enthusiasm for jazz was contagious, was involved in every era of the genre since first discovering early New Orleans jazz records in his uncle’s record collection in the 194os. He was a self-described “missionary” for the music, taking on many roles to help its popularity spread.
“There’s no area of the music at all that I have any negative feelings about,” Mr. Spangler said in a 2011 interview with Wayne State University Libraries in Detroit. “And I have some knowledge of all of it.”
He served as a bandleader and drummer, performing with a number of notable players. He helped launch Strata Records, a revered independent jazz label. He also produced Grammy-nominated recordings for several jazz artists, including Taylor Eigsti, Mark Levine and Cedar Walton.
In the Bay Area, he became known as a radio fixture, hosting See’s Sunday night jazz show on KJAZ and then “Sunday Night Suites” at KCSM.
Robert “Bud” Spangler was born on Dec. 7, 1938, in Norwalk, Ohio. His family home was located across the street from a high school football field, where the student marching band would practice daily. The drum majorette was his babysitter, and Mr. Spangler would often follow the musicians along the sidelines.
“The drums always thrilled me,” he said.
Borrowing his father’s bass drum and a neighbor’s sticks and brushes, Mr. Spangler taught himself to play the instrument, putting on backyard concerts for his friends. Despite suffering from polio, he eventually took formal lessons, becoming proficient enough to perform in public in the seventh grade. By the time he got to high school, he was leading his own band.
In the ’50s, Mr. Spangler attended Michigan State University, where he worked with many professional musicians. At 19, he got a job as the drummer and host of a Saturday morning television show on a local station, presenting an alternative to “American Bandstand.” He eventually started hosting radio shows at the college station before moving to Detroit to take up performing live in earnest.
In the late ’70s, he moved to Northern California, where he started hosting radio shows, producing records and playing with various ensembles, including the Tom Peron-Bud Spangler Interplay Quartet.
In 1991, he co-founded the Jazz at Filoli summer concert series in Woodside, which ran through 2007.
“I was living my dream,” he said.
In 2011, several local jazz acts, including Khalil Shaheed and Kitty Margolis, performed at a tribute concert billed as “A Salute to Bud Spangler” at Yoshi’s Oakland.
No memorial plans have been announced.