My absolute MASTER Mr. Tommy Campbell



This is a story about my truly absolute MASTER Mr. Tommy Campbell,whom I really admire by all means.

I sent him my genuine compliment via e-mail before he left Japan this mid January after living here for more than a decade.

 I decided to post this as my TOP story and am also happy to share this with you!!


Dating back 6 or 7 years…. I was questioning my drumming life and my musical career.

I had my strong will to be a professional drummer, to make a living as a musician from the beginning.

But at that time, I had a sort of indecisive feeling make a living as a professional but achieving nothing in real what I desired to accomplish.

Genre of music which I mostly heard in student times were fusion or jazz, so naturally I became to long being able to perform these kinds of music by myself.

Nevertheless what I attained was just playing pops or simple fusion.

I could not even make conversations while performing or doing interplay.

I realized that I was far removed from the ideal.

I decided to relearn my drumming with the inclination starting from zero.

My certain objective was to practice with someone who covers all genres in performing, who literally could perform EVERYTHING.

I went to all kinds of excellent live performances which interested me, contacted them and asked for lessons but none of it did last for long.


One day, a close friend of mine invited me to YOUR live performance.

I knew you through videos and other screen media, but watching you LIVE was the first time!!

I got an intuitive feeling that I will practice with YOU looking your performance at a glance. After your gig, I walked up the stage and asked you to “teach drumming”.

Your reply was quick… “No problem. Why don’t you come to the studio? How about tomorrow?”

I still remember even now going to Studio Forte with an extremely high running tension.

Back then I hardly could speak English, could not even perform my own solo drumming…., I felt myself rather like a nonprofessional, but being professional “in name only”.

Your first lesson gave me a huge impact in a positive way!!!! Arriving at Studio Forte you started right away showing me your solo, instructed me many basic theories and knowledge which I did not know up to then.

What was everything I did with drumming all this time!!!

Just this clear impact crossed my mind.


You can’t imagine how happy I was finding a PERFECT MASTER!!! Starting lessons with you, I recorded every lesson, wrote up all phrases into scores, and listened to every music which you recommended.

Sometimes, there were such hard phrases writing up into scores, since you personally also did not remember how you performed it each time, I still tried to put it up into scores by playing back slowly my recorded lessons.

The other BIG issue which bothered me was my poor English!! I felt so frustrated not being able to make prompt communication and ask questions which came up in between our lessons.

There was no choice and had to wait for my next lesson bringing my unresolved questions in written English.

Tommy, it was YOU, who made me realize the urge of need to learn more English, which I hated so much.

I really wanted to communicate with you, asking you many many things about drumming. Memorizing each sentence and ask…..I repeated this flow chart every time up to now.

Passing a year, we became good friends.


When having available time you extended lessons for free, and introduced me to many musicians being active abroad.

Around this time I became to conceive this incredible dream that someday these great world-class musicians might listen to my performance and have a chance to perform together one day.

You took me around for lunch or dinner, introduced me to unbelievable big succeeding musicians through skype, and at times gave me warm kind words when feeling down.

When I developed my facial palsy several years ago, you sent mails everyday regardless of where you were at that time telling me your hard time stories then.

I read those mails everyday getting the morning sun while my hospital stay.

When having lack of money, you still gave lessons without any fee, lent your instruments right away when there was a need. Scolded me, when I blew off my practice at a glance… AGAIN,I have to say and from my bottom of my heart…that you,TOMMY CAMPBELL,are my very first MASTER!!!!

I am well aware of your world-class level drumming technique, that you dazzled thousands of high grade worldwide musicians in the 70′s, but MORE than that…. before I knew it, I just was deeply impressed and inspired by your WARM&BIG HEART personality and your OPEN-MINDED humanity!!!

You are such a gifted person!!! So many countless memories and so many too valuable experiences and practices….. There are NO fitting words how much I do thank you for all you have shared and done to me!!!! You rejuvenated me and my drumming!!!

I only can say that I met YOU at the RIGHT TIME!!!

That’s for sure!! And by meeting you, you taught me an important life lesson “where there is a will, there is a way” in REAL!!! In addition, I got the BEST!!!! Even if you move back to your hometown after these long years living in Japan, we will stay in touch and I will see you in NYC!!!


I believe we still have issues left which we have to do together….(BIG SMILE)

Yours, Yasuyuki Saiga


Posted: 2012/07/17 @10:37