Ive been working on a major restoration of a Top Hat and Cane set for nearly a year now. When I got the set it was basically in pretty good shape but was definitely show signs of its 70+ years. The shells were grimy, the nickel hardware had lost all of it’s shine, a few pieces were missing and some new tom mounts had been put on the toms. Probably because this set is such an historic, iconic, beautiful and valuable set I got very inspired to really bring this set back to it’s original majestic condition. If you’ve ever seen a Top Hat and Cane set you’ll know what I mean. I was also inspired by the stories and photos I received about the original owner. I’ve been tracking down all of the missing parts and sending parts all over the country for polishing and restoring. If you look closely at the nickel hardware on the 11″ tom you’ll see it’s considerably shinier than the rest of the set. I had the hardware on the 11″ buffed with a buffing wheel. The rest was done by hand. Once I saw how much shinier the hardware done on a wheel was I broke down, stripped the remaining hardware off and sent it to be machine buffed. I will be writing an article for NSMD magazine detailing the entire restoration process as soon as it’s done. I’ll keep updating as things progress. With any luck it should all be done in about a month. Until then, here’s a few photos of the set in progress.
I saw Ginger Baker at Jazz Alley in Seattle last night with his band Jazz Confusion. A pretty amazing experience. It was a great show. I’m going to try to get back there tonight.
Ginger Baker is pretty grumpy. I had the good fortune to meet him before the show. He was so cranky it was endearing. I think it’s partly genuine crankiness and partly his very dry, dark english sense of humor. Half way through the emcee’s introduction Ginger barked at him in the mic ”get off!!”, motioned abruptly, pointing the emcee off stage and just started playing. When he came back for an encore he said “you just want to see me die”. It was pretty funny but judging by his wheezing voice it was not entirely out of the question. He was like a cranky old grandpa who didn’t want to get off the couch after Thanksgiving dinner.
nd I agree with him 100%. Charlie Watts told me that in his opinion Ginger is the best rock drummer ever. I now understand what Charlie meant. There is actually a great similarity in the way Ginger and Charlie play the drums. Charlie is obviously much more restrained but both have this very stiff yet aloof, explorative approach (sorry that’s the best way I can describe it) that really knocks me out. They both come from very similar musical backgrounds. It makes sense.
Daniel Glass stopped by the shop yesterday. He was on his way to a gig with the Royal Crown Review swing band up in Bellingham. Daniel recently had a pretty major operation on his bass drum foot. He won’t be able to use it for several weeks. Not enough to stop a pro like Daniel. He’s rigged up his kit to play the kick drum with his other foot. All those years of coordination exercises pay off once again!! Daniel will be at the shop today for a clinic at 2:00 PM. It’s only $5.00. There’s still room. Come on down and see what this amazing drummer does. There’s a bunch of give aways from DW, Crescent cymbals, Evans and more. See you there!
Some of the greatest experiences and relationships in my professional life have revolved around the huge collection of Elvin’s Jones’s drum gear that I was so fortunate to acquire shortly after he passed. I’ve met so many people via these drums. My life would have turned out much differently had these drums never found there way into my life. The Time capsules article is below. Most of the collection is still available in Donn’s Drum Vault . ELVIN JONES DRUM COLLECTION .
Here’s the DRUM! Magazine Time Capsules article about Peter Criss’ Love Gun snare. I heard from lots of KISS fans after this article came out. Peter Criss inspired a whole generation of young drummers. I heard so many stories that went something like “I saw Peter play that drum with KISS back in 1977 and I decided right there I was going to be a drummer” It reminded me of my own personal story. Just switch “Kenney Jones”,The Faces” and “1972″ and you’ve got the story about how I got started playing. I actually tracked Kenney Jones down in England and called him on the phone (way before email) We spent 10 or 15 minutes talking on a few separate calls. He was really nice particularly given the fact that with the time difference I was calling at around 11:00PM!! He told me he still had all of his old Faces Ludwig and Premier drumsets. Oh well …it gives me something to dream about. Enjoy!!
On September 15th Kenny Aronoff came to town to help the Seattle Seahawks set a new world record for the loudest stadium on the planet. Kenny is one of the most powerful drummers ever so it made perfect sense to bring him in to help crank up the volume at Century Link Field. Kenny and the Seahawks Blue Thunder drum line whipped Seattle fans into a frenzy above and beyond the already insane levels they’re famous for. Kenny is a HUGE Indiana Colts fan so he literally had to “”take one for the team” by wearing a Seahawks jersey for the show. I think the fact that his beloved Colts beat the Seahawks on last Sunday helped him recover. Here’s a few pics and some video from the game. That’s me you see in the background with the cell phone camera in the “Jack and Diane” video. Go Hawks!!
Kenny Aronoff will be back in Seattle to attempt another world record for the most drummers playing drumsets simultaneously at the WOODSTICK BIG BEAT 2013 on Sunday November 24th.
SINGLE CLICK PHOTO TO ENLARGE.
Here’s my Drum! Magazine Time Capsules column from May of 2013 about Stan Lynch’s custom Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers drum set.
One of the highlights of my job has been getting to know so many of my favorite drummers. Not only is it exciting just to meet the drummers I grew up idolizing but I’ve found out that the better I understand a drummer on a personal level, the better I understand them as a drummer. I suddenly have a whole new lens to “view” thier playing through. It helps me relate to thier music on a much deeper level. Stan Lynch is an extremely enthusiastic guy. He gets still very excited music. It’s so cool to listen to him gush like a teenage fan after seeing his first rock concert. He’s one of the greatest musical minds of our time. This guy is trully a musical genius. Besides the amazing drum parts he delivered on so many Tom Petty records he’s also an amazing record producer. Listen to any of Don Henley’s albums. There’s some real serious musical brainpower up there.
I also got to talk to my good friend Joe Hibbs about this set. He was the artist relations guy at Tama back in the 80s. He could tell you a few stories!! He’s a great guy and one of the most beloved guys in the industry. Enjoy the article. You can see more about this set in DONN’S DRUM VAULT. Enjoy!
I wrote a DRUM! Magazine Time Capsules article about this set back in August/2013. This set was near and dear to me. Michael’s tech Gary Clark used to come into the music store where I used to work in here in Bellevue, WA back in the early 80s. (Does anyone remember Bandstand East? It was on the corner of NE8th and 116th where Whole Foods is now). He was always rounding up bits of hardware for this set they were customizing for Michael. Michael used it in a clinic Bandstand East presented with Carmine Appice back in about 1982(?) I never saw the set again until a collector friend offered it to me many years later and I jumped on it. Sadly I just heard that Gary Clark died a couple weeks ago. What an enjoyable guy!!
You can see more about this kit in Donn’s Drum Vault.
Here’s my DRUM! Magazine Time Capsules article from July/2013. I acquired several drums from Steve about 15 years ago. This one was so cool I had to hang on to it for awhile. You can see this and lot’s more of the drums I’ve squirreled away in Donn’s Drum Vault
Here’s the article I wrote in DRUM! magazine last June about Hal Blaine’s legendary “Timbale Kit”. Man, if I could have been in the room when he was creating some of the greatest music of all time on this set! The set is currently on display at the shop. It’s also available in Donn’s Drum Vault
Our 11th annual Woodstick Big Beat is happening Sunday November 24th at the Emerald Queen Showroom in Tacoma. At Woodstick we attempt to set a new world record for drummers playing drum sets simultaneously while we raise money to support keeping music in our schools. Any drummer can participate. We have a great line up of guest artists and over $10,000.00 in prizes. For complete information and to register CLICK HERE.
I’m having a blast writing my monthly TIME CAPSULES article for DRUM! Magazine. Check out this one about Keith Moon’s DRB Special snare. You can see more about this drum on our website at: Keith Moon Snare
I’ve been having a blast writing my monthly Time Capsules column for DRUM! magazine. Every issue I write a story about one of the famous drums or sets in my collection. It comes out every month. My column is always on the very last page. Here’s the first one that came out back in the April 2013 issue. Here’s the first one I wrote. It’s about Joey Kramer’s last DW Aerosmith drum set. To see more about this set on our website CLICK HERE. More to come.
Check out this amazing Radio King set I just picked up. I traded a green sparkle Ludwig set to a pretty major record producer in LA for it. The set is a 24,12,13,16 with a matching Radio King snare. Original Slingerland RK calf heads all around. Very minor fading and a little pitting on the lugs. Otherwise near original condition. I just posted it to the Donn’s Drum Vault webpage on this site. Here’s the link.
I just added some new photos of this set to the website. I got this amazing set several years ago but never had any decent photos of it. I suppose a $29,000 drum set deserves better!! Way back in 1967 a cocktail waitress in a casino in Atlantic City told Buddy that “her son loved his music and had all his records”. Buddy’s response was “Oh yeah? You want those drums? Take ‘em”. They passed through a few collectors until I got them in 2007. Check out the Buddy Rich 1967 Fibes Drum Seti n action.
Here’s a link to the set on the website.
Gene Krupa’ Collection
Here’s a few cool drum items that belonged to Gene Krupa. First is a 13″ Slingerland Radio King tom with a Gene Krupa Orchestra case. I got this from an older guy in his late 70s about 20 years ago. He told me his friend stole it off of the loading dock at the Trianon Ballroom in Seattle in the late 40s or early 50s after a Gene Krupa Orchestra show there. He never knew what to do with it because as much as he loved it, it was stolen from his idol. It sat in his garage all those years until he finally took it into a little consignment shop when he was clearing out his garage. Check out the marks on the tom from the Band Aids he was using for muffling. This was one of the first drums in my collection.
Second is an illuminated GK bandstand. How cool. Then theres an early 70s Sligerland Radio King snare drum. This would have to be one of the last, if not the last snare drums he ever played. Finally, a collection of letters to his godson on GKO letterhead and an engraved boomerang presented to gene from an Australian drum club in the 50s. I sold the boomerang abut a year ago but everything else is still available on my website. I also have a real to real tape of an interview and live performance that I’ve never been able to listen to as I don’t have a reel to reel player. There’s also several more photos http://bennettdrums.com/category/drummers/gene-krupa/
I’ve been working on restoring a 1941 Ludwig Top Hat and Cane “Swing Sensation” set for the last couple of years. Good things take time. This is definitely a good thing and DEFINITELY taking some time!
For those of you who are not familiar with this set the Ludwig Top Hat and Cane set was a special edition set available in 1940 and 41. It was basically the same as their regular “Swing Sensation” outfit but was unique in it’s art deco top,hat, gloves and cane pattern superimposed over the regular white marine pearl finish. It was the absolute pinnacle of the drum industry at the time. The best that money could buy. Very few were ever made and only about 15 of these sets are known to still exist today. By some strange twist of fate 6 of these sets have come my way. I sold one to U2 producer Daniel Lanois, one to Charlie Watts of the Rolling Stones and one to actor Johnny Depp. I still own 3 of these sets. This set includes a 26″ bass, 11, 13 and 16″ toms and a 7×14 snare drum. The set actually began as 2 sets. I got the bass and snare from one party and the toms from another. Fortunately they all match perfectly. The toms came from the daughter of a mid-western drummer named Henry “Hank” Andrew Leja who had recently passed away. I purchased them from her about a year ago. Initially she was only able to locate the 13 and 16″ toms. I was thrilled when she contacted me earlier this summer and informed me she had found the missing 11″ tom. The bass and snare came from a store also in the mid-west that had had them in stock for many years.
Although all of the drums were in extremely nice condition for thier age, each of them had had some sort of modification that needed to be restored to it’s original condition. All the drums needed a good cleaning and polishing. I sent the set to drum restoration artist Jack Lawton. He masterfully filled extra holes and buffed and polished the shells and hardware. It took a long time but he did an amazing job. You cab see in the photos how he finished the repaired holes with matching pieces of vintage wrap and in some cases artfully re-created the drilled through Top Hat pattern by hand. I just received the missing 11″ tom and sent it to Matt Sinyard of the Bonzo Drum Company to be restored.
You can also see in the original photo from the 1940s the hoops on the 11 and 16 toms are wood and the 13″ tom is metal. I had never seen a Top Hat set with wooden hoops. How or why this set ended up with a combination of wood and metal hoops is anyone’s guess. I figure it was just yet another Ludwig anomaly. They were probably out of metal hoops the day they finished the set and so they used whatever was available at the time. I plan to put wood hoops on all of the toms so they match. I’m still hunting for a pair of era correct 13″ wooden hoops and a set of nickel claws and rods. Anyone have some ?? I expect to have the 11″ tom restored before too long. That will be the final piece in restoring this set to it’s original magnificent condition. I will definitely post photos of the set once it’s complete. Watch for updates and please let me know if you can help me with any of the parts I still need. The set will be for sale once it’s complete. I don’t know the price yet. I’m going to wait until it’s complete before I even start thinking about that. Enjoy!!
This story starts somewhere around 2000. Whenever it was it was fairly early in the shops history. I got a call from my good friend Jeff Chonis. He’s been a huge influence in my career and my life. Jeff has been Ringo’s Starr’s tech for around 25 years and has worked with dozens of the top drummers of our time. Ringo often refers to him as the “World’s Greatest Drum Tech”. More about Jeff later. I could write several entries just about him. Ringo has asked him to find a drum set made in the year he was born, 1940 and wanted the same for his son Jason born in 1967. Ringo wanted Ludwigs. Jason wanted Gretschs. I’d helped Jeff find a few other hard to find drum items previously so he knew I would be all over the chance to find Ringo and his son drum sets. I started scouring all my usual leads trying to turn something up with out any luck. Speaking of luck…about a week after our initial phone call a guy comes in looking for a new Mapex set. He has his old drums in his car and want’s to trade them in. We go out to the car and there’s this spectacular 1940 Ludwig 24,13,16 and a matching 6.5×14 snare all in beautiful white marine pearl. My drum karma strikes again! The guy was pretty amazed at how much I gave him on trade (there was no way in the world I was going to let him leave with those drums!!). The bass drum had a crest with the drummers initials on it made with these press on vinyl letters. I got the idea to personalize the kit for Ringo and went to an office supply store and got some new press on letters. It was pretty easy to change the letters to RS. We took some photos (which we took to the 1 hour processing shop, man have things changed!) got the prints and put them in the mail. It would be a few days before Ringo got the pics and could call us back to let us know what he thought. In the meantime our good friend Jon “Bermuda” Schwartz from Wierd Al Yankovick’s band stopped by while on tour with Wierd Al. Bermuda is an extraordinary drummer. He doesn’t get the cred he deserves playing in what a lot of people would consider a novelty band. Bermuda has been with Wierd Al since day one. The truth is that the Wierd Al show is an extremely complex show with hundreds of cues, sound effects, triggers and bizarre twists packed into the show. The show is so complicated that Bermuda has never missed a show for the simple fact that there is no other person on this planet that could learn the whole show. Bermuda is a huge vintage drum fan and a huge Beatles fan so he was excited as we were to see the drums that could be Ringo’s. We heard from Ringo a few days later. He loved the set and wanted them. What really put him over the top was the RS crest on the bass drum. I was ECSTATIC. I am also a huge Beatle fan and could hardly believe that I’d just found a set of drums for Ringo Starr.
The first time I met Tre Cool was probably around 10 years ago. I pick up the phone and the guy on the other end asks if I have have any 1920s Ludwig Black Beauty snare drums in stock. I had a couple of them and started telling him about them. He says he from out of town and could we meet in downtown Seattle since he doesn’t have a car. We try to figure out a place to meet and he asks me if I know where the Paramount Theater is. The Paramount is a legendary concert venue in Seattle. I’d been to hundreds of shows there. He says he playing there tonight and could I meet him there. Of course I ask him who he’s playing with. He replies “Green Day” I ask him if he’s Tre Cool. Why didn’t you say so?!?
I brought him the drum. He liked it. He had someone go get him some cash and he returned with a big stack of hundreds and counted them out for me. He had us stay for their sound check and the show. That guy is an amazing drummer. I think he’s the best of the punk-pop drummers. The way he drives that band with the super steady, driving eighth notes on the hi hat is like no other drummer. Very interesting character too. Ever since then he always calls or comes by the shop when he’s in town. Hopefully they will be back on the road again soon.
Here’s some pics from the soundcheck, his kit and before the show. I’ll tell you the story about the drum set he gave me in a future blog. Until then…