Memories of my Drum Teacher
by Mark Bloch

Jerry Borden
This photo of my drum teacher Jerry Borden was taken at Herman Pirchner's Alpine Village in 1942. "He was playing every night with Mickey Katz' Orchestra. Mickey later went on to play clarinet and make vocal sounds for many years with Spike Jones' band," according to his son. Borden was invited to join them, "but had been on the road for so long, he wanted to stay home," (Photo courtesy of the Borden family)


NEW YORK CITY January 8, 2007--I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. My main memories of my drum teacher Jerry Borden are the way he looked, which may be completely inaccurate. But I recall him looking a bit like Vince Lombardi.

He was very kind and patient. An excellent teacher.

I don't remember him ever being angry or short tempered.

I used to go to take lessons from him at a music store in Warrensville Hts where I lived. I had previously played the sax and liked that but my grandfather used to drum with his fingers and it influenced me. So did a black couple that worked for my dad called "Mr. and Mrs. 88." A great name. My dad owned a bar and they performed there. One time our family went to their house for dinner and their son had a drum set in the basement. I thought that was cool. I decided to switch to drums.

I have no idea how I found Jerry. Probably either through the school or through my dad's bar connections.

I learned on a practice pad.

He taught me to play rolls and patterns. Paradiddles. Once it started getting into more complicated stuff I stopped I think. Flams blew my mind for some reason. We soon after moved to Akron and the lessons stopped.

He taught me to play rock and roll drumming. Maybe a little jazz. He taught me to use brushes.

A fond memory was one day we got in the car and drove to an unfamiliar part of town. When we arrived there, it was Jerry's home. A house. Nice place. It seemed very big. I wonder if it really was. it seemed huge. As we entered the front door and walked toward the far end of the living room, there was a red sparkle Decca drum set set up there and Jerry was standing in front of it. I have no recollection of being primed for this. I think it was a surprise.

I don't recall anything else from that day. I assume we dismantled it and took it home. He probably showed me how to do so.

The drum set was not bad. Not the best, of course, but it was no kid's toy.  I think it cost 300 dollars. The cymbals were not the best but the drums were pretty good. The hardware and drums lasted me for several years- until I was about 20. I was 8 at the time. I later got new cymbals.

Mr. and Mrs. 88

Here is a photo of a Mr. and Mrs. 88 that I found on the internet. Apparently they made some of the earliest music videos-- performing "Dual Boogie,"
"Straighten Up and Fly Right,""Down Yonder," "Wherever There's Me, There's You," and "Detour."
Could there could have been two acts with this name? If not, this must the couple that worked at my dad's bar, The American Lounge, at Cedar and Green in Cleveland in the early 1960s. They look pretty hep don't they?


I was in a band called the Tremblers. Named after Tremolo on the amp my friend had. We had a bass a guitar and me. And three backup singers. Hey I just remembered something- I actually got the snare drum first. It had a little cymbal stand that attached to the stand. That was the step between the rubber and wood practice pad and the full set which matched the snare drum. We won a talent show playing “Windy,” “Something Stupid” and for an encore “G-L-O-R-I-A Gloria.” Jerry might have come to the talent show. I don't recall, but it seemed like big deal at the time so maybe he attended. He certainly should have because everything I know about drumming I learned from Jerry Borden!

Mr. and Mrs. 88

According to the guy who made a Snader Telescriptions website, "I haven't been able to find any information on these be-bop performers - but they're raucous and wild!" He says that Snader videos "were television's very first music videos, produced from around 1950 until about 1953/54. All of the top jazz/ pop/ country stars made these 3 and 4 minute films. There was a entire run of these telescriptions, numbering in the thousands."

The last time I saw Jerry was at a boat show. My dad used to drag me to those. He was in a little jazz group. I recall seeing him play and also seeing him afterward as we had a bite to eat. He walked by and we had a little chat.

He was a lovely man!

It was quite a coincidence when his grandson wrote me a letter after seeing my reference to Jerry on the Internet because I had just that day been talking to someone about my drumset. I had seen a documentary about Punk on IFC, the Independent Film Channel called “Punk: Attitude” the day before. It was good. if you ever get a chance to see it. I think anyone would learn a lot from it. Best one I ever saw. So I was explaining to a friend that my life changed drastically due to outside circumstances because my drum set was stolen and I never got to be in the Punk wave as a musician. I was an artist but not in a band at the time. I definitely wanted to be and was in the process of doing so at Kent State in 1975, before Punk started. But I was totally experimental; I liked the Soft Machine, Todd Rundgren, Genesis and Paul Winter Consort and I remember at the time, I envisioned a band that would incorporate all of that and more.

practice pad

The practice pad I had looked something like this.


The punkumentary made me think that I was just like so many other musicians at the time. Something was in the air. The basic idea of the documentary was not that punk was as we know it but was just a very creative group of musicians in the mid 70s all over the world who created a change from the 60s and its aftermath.

i was playing with some people at the time and left my drum set at his house over X-mas break near the campus of Kent State University where I was a student. When I returned from break, my set was gone. I tried to track it down but never could. The landlord had stolen it because the kids who lived there we behind on the rent.

My friends in the Waitresses, Tin Huey, and Rachel Sweet went on to be on a record called The Akron Sound on Stiff records after Devo hit it big. I went to school with the Devo drummer Alan Meyers. The other members went to Kent State and studied art too.

Anyway, who knows what might have been-- maybe nothing-- but I still miss that drum set!

I should have just banged on sheet metal, bottles and cans. I didn't realize at the time that was legal.

–Mark Bloch

Note: if you have the Real Audio player, you can download a video of Mr. and Mrs. 88 here.