World's Fastest Drummer

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World's Fastest Drummer (WFD) Extreme Sport Drumming is a competition that establishes a drummers playing speed against a Drumometer, an electronic device invented by Boo McAfee and Craig A. Kestner (aka Craig Alan) that is used to count drum strokes.[1]

Drumometer is patented technology protected by US Patent #6,545,207.that is used to count drum strokes. The Drumometer is accepted by Guinness World Records and the WFD (Extreme Sport Drumming) organization as the official device used to determine the World's Fastest Drummer.

Purpose[edit]

The primary goal of most WFD competitions is to determine who can play the most single strokes in sixty seconds. According to author Josh Davis, "the Drumometer uncovered a deep well of competitiveness." After experimenting with various WFD competition formats in the southern United States, the event achieved international prominence when respected studio and clinic drummer Johnny Rabb became the first person to break 1,000 single strokes in 60 seconds, claiming the title World's Fastest Hands and recognition from the record keepers at Guinness. McAfee and Alan then officially sanctioned their events and copyrighted the phrase World's Fastest Drummer. This was followed by ads in Drum! and Modern Drummer magazines touting Rabb's accomplishment and their Drumometer device. Subsequently, they created new classes of speed drumming: fastest feet (for two-footed bass drumming), bare hands, and tag team, among others. Drumometer orders then followed, and the race to best Rabb's feats began. Musical genres - death metal, country, jazz, rock and drum corps - have since battled for dominance in the various categories.

Early years[edit]

Early stars of the event in addition to Rabb included a veteran jazz drummer named Art Verdi (first person to break 1100 single strokes), Jotan Afanador, the first drummer to regularly perform near 1200 single strokes in one minute. Tim Waterson, the first person to score over 1000 single strokes on a bass drum, and the first identifiable personality of the bass drum division via a series of instructional videos touting his widely emulated heel-toe technique.

In 2002 WFD acquired its most recognizable competitor when Dream Theater drummer and former Berklee College of Music professor Mike Mangini joined its ranks. Initially Mangini was hard pressed to surpass Afanador, but eventually became the first drummer to surpass 1200 single strokes in one minute with 1,203. Tom Grosset broke it in 2013 with a new record of 1,208.

New era[edit]

Beginning in 2002 WFD world championships became a biannual affair (winter and summer), and were permanently stationed at NAMM conventions beginning in 2003. With the retirements of Rabb and others from active competition, the sport continued to witness runs by New Jersey website personality "Tiger" Bill Meligari, Seth Davis, Sam Lecompte, and Eric Okamoto. Recent champions include Matt Smith who at 16 became the youngest WFD champion and the harbinger of a new youth movement within the sport, and two bass drum competitors Tim Yeung and Mike "Machine" Mallais. Yeung was instrumental in popularizing the sport within that genre, while Mallais beat most of the existing bass drum world records formerly held by Waterson and Mangini at the Winter 2007 world championships.

In 2006 British drummer Rees Bridges became the first European to win a world's title, sparking greater interest in a WFD UK division, managed by drummer entrepreneur Ed Freitas. Later in 2006 WFD staged an elaborate national competition in Australia with smaller events held in Hong Kong and elsewhere, while the first official WFD China Championship is scheduled for 2012. After an extended hiatus WFD Championships returned to NAMM Conventions July 2011 with Australian Joey Moujalli and American Kevin Bernardy taking hands and feet titles respectively.

In July 2007 in Austin, Texas, WFD hands champion Thomas Grosset (age 16) performed 1156 single strokes in 1 minute matched grip, the highest score ever recorded in the final championship round. Grosset's top preliminary run of 1194 made him the new WFD 16 and under World Record Holder and third in the world rankings just behind Afanador. Shortly after losing his 16 and under record, Matt Smith set a new world hands endurance record, and was followed closely by 18-year-old Daniel Rice, scoring 1108 in the preliminaries. In June 2008, Smith returned to break Mangini's traditional grip record of 1126, with a score of 1132, leaving the sport almost entirely in the hands of younger competitors. Mangini's former dominance of WFD has recently been deemphasized. He still holds the bare hand record(no sticks)of 1138 single strikes in 60 seconds.

Controversy[edit]

WFD events have not been without controversy. From the beginning, drummers were divided into positive and negative camps, with this phenomenon rapidly accelerating as Mangini, Rabb, Verdi and Afanador especially surfaced on television programs and commercials, with opposing sides simultaneously battling in Internet drum forums, magazines and YouTube comments sections. WFD detractors have contended that musical instruments should not be used as tools for sport and depreciate musicality, while defenders cite the quest for technical excellence, and its innocence as a non-musical exercise. As the argument has become more complex, hundreds of WFD hopefuls issue unsubstantiated Internet Drumometer videos purporting to be world records.

Another controversy centered around implementation of a hands technique called "push-pull" that allowed competitors to score more than one beat with a single motion but was neither a double stroke or buzz roll. In 2011 it was determined that push-pull qualified as a hybrid single stroke but requiring a separate category with its own records. The ruling further asserted that world rankings would remain limited to standard singles competitors.

WFD Champions[edit]

2015 Legal Filings-Defending the Drumometer Patent US #6,545,207[edit]

McAfee has filed patent infringement lawsuits in Chicago against Guitar Center, Ahead Products, Inc. and Cherub Technology Inc., who sell a similar drum stroke counting device, and Yamaha Corporation of America, who has incorporated a drum stroke counting feature in its popular line of DTX electronic drum kits.

In response to an ongoing controversy in the music world over who was, in fact, the world’s fastest drummer, Boo McAfee teamed up with electrical engineer and drummer, Craig Alan Kestner, and developed the DrumometerTM to accurately count drum strokes on a drum pad. McAfee and Kestner were awarded U.S. Patent No. 6,545,207 on their invention, and began promoting “World’s Fastest Drummer®” (“WFD”) competitions with the DrumometerTM. Craig left Drumometer in 2007 to continue a career in engineering but still owns the first Drumometer prototype affectionately known as Frankenstein.

“Extreme Sport Drumming” competitions are now regularly held worldwide, and have been featured on CNN, MTV, VH1, PBS, FOX and ESPN. Boo McAfee and Extreme Sport Drumming were recently the subject of the film Fast Company, which opened to rave reviews at the Milwaukee Film Festival on September 27, 2015.

The popularity of Extreme Sport Drumming, however, has led to many imitators of McAfee’s patented DrumometerTM. After trying for years to license, or stop. the sales of copycat drum stroke counting devices, McAfee has now begun filing patent infringement lawsuits with the help of patent attorney Anthony Dowell of Chicago.

“I contacted all of the companies selling imitation drum stroke counting pads,” McAfee said. “Unfortunately, none of them would respect my patent rights and pay a reasonable license fee. Guitar Center told me they wouldn’t even talk to me unless I filed ‘formal proceedings.’ So that’s what we did.”

“Boo’s experience is common these days,” patent attorney Anthony Dowell explained. “In today’s patent climate, companies have no respect for inventors or patent rights. Most will ignore an inventor until a patent infringement lawsuit is filed. That usually gets their attention.”   Dowell has filed three patent infringement lawsuits for McAfee in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, the first against Guitar Center and Yamaha on October 27, 2015 (15-cv-9555) and two more against Ahead Products, Inc. (15-cv-10395) and Cherub Technology Inc. (15-cv-10403) on November 18, 2015.

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