Death and legacy
Buddy Rich remained active until the end of his life, appearing with his Big Band on Michael Parkinson's British talk show Parkinson only a few weeks prior to his death. In the episode, Parkinson kidded Rich about his Donny Osmond kick, by claiming that Rich was the president of Osmond's fan club. Reportedly, prior to heart surgery, when asked by a nurse if he was allergic to anything; he replied, "Yes, Country and Western music!" Days before he died, he was visited by Mel Tormé, who claims that one of Buddy's last requests was "to hear the tapes" that featured his angry outbursts. At the time, Tormé was working on an authorized biography of Rich which was released after Rich's death, titled Traps, The Drum Wonder: The Life of Buddy Rich.
On April 2, 1987, Rich died of heart failure following surgery for a malignant brain tumor. He is interred in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles, California. He was 69.