On April 8, 2000, Will Ferrell popularized the cowbell and solidified his place in fake percussionist history by playing the role of Gene Frenkle, a fictional cowbell player in the band Blue Öyster Cult, in a Saturday Night Live skit that featured Jimmy Fallon on drums.
In early 2014, nearly 14 years after the famous cowbell skit, Ferrell was challenged to a drum-off by a real percussionist – Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith, with whom he is often confused. (The two look eerily similar and they know it!)
The look-a-likes met on May 22, 2014 on NBC’s The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon for a celebrity drum-off to raise money for charity and to prove who is actually the better percussionist. Each designated a charity to receive half of the funds raised from the sale of a custom, autographed cowbell and a drum-off T-Shirt. Ferrell raised money for Cancer For College and Smith chose to donate his portion to Music Will!
Ferrell, pretending to be Smith, spoke about how Music Will is a charity that specializes in taking instruments away from children and destroying them in junkyards. This lit a fire under Chad Smith, who is a staunch advocate for restoring and revitalizing music and arts education in schools. There was no telling who would win – a professional drummer or a cowbell player / comedian, but some Music Will students were rooting for their favorite Red Hot Chili Pepper and showed their support musically by recording a special video.
Join Will Smith and Chad Ferrell (ahem… Will Ferrell and Chad Smith) in providing support by buying a cowbell, a drum-off T-Shirt, making a donation, or getting involved.
Thanks to all involved for their generosity and support!
And if you don’t know the back-story, check out the hilarious Saturday Night Live skit with Will Ferrell, Jimmy Fallon, and Christopher Walken, which arguably gave rise to all of this, more than 14 years ago.
“I got a fever… and the only prescription, is more cowbell!”