The Modern Drummer Hall of Fame Museum is a private, invitation-only collection of some of the world’s most iconic drum kits. From Buddy Rich to Alex Van Halen and more. Below are just some of the historic drum kits on display.
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This Rogers kit was originally owned and used by Louie Bellson in the 1960s. Noted drum historian and drum shop owner Steve Maxwell once owned the kit, and he provides the following description: “The kit features two 14” x 24” bass drums, one 9” x 13” tom, two 16” x 16” floor toms, a 5” x 14” Dynasonic snare drum, and a canister throne. All the drum hardware, as well as the brass shell of the snare drum, is entirely gold plated. The bass drums have the original Louie Bellson logo front heads. The bass drums also each feature a gold-plated metal plate inscribed with Louie’s signature. The set is complete with all the original Rogers gold-plated hardware, as well as all of Louie’s original cymbals.
“Louie Bellson was one of Sammy Davis Jr.’s favorite drummers, and the two were close friends for many years. Sammy was an excellent drummer himself, [and in the early 1970s,] as a gesture of friendship, Louie loaned this set to Sammy—who played it for several years thereafter. Being owned and used extensively by Louie Bellson makes it a collector’s piece, but the fact that it was also played by Sammy Davis Jr. raises it to one-of-a-kind iconic status.”
The unique studio kit that Hal designed (shown here) started with a Ludwig Super Classic blue sparkle bass drum and single-headed floor tom, along with a 6½” x 14” Supraphonic chrome snare drum (into which Hal etched his initials). Then Hal added seven single-headed toms that featured spun-fiberglass shells made by A. F. Blaemire and fitted with Ludwig drum hardware. The toms were mounted on two massive rolling racks so that they could be moved easily yet remain solidly in place when played.
Producers loved Hal’s sweeping tom fills, which only this eight-drum configuration could produce. “But it wasn’t about playing a lot of drums or showing off,” said Hal in his interview. “It was about helping a song to tell its story.”
The success of Hal’s “studio monster” had an impact on drum kit design, as well. In 1973 the Ludwig Drum Company adopted Hal’s design to create its Octaplus kit. At the time of its introduction it was the biggest production drum configuration anyone had ever seen.
The Gretsch kit shown here features
14” x 24” bass drum, 9” x 13” and 10” x 14” rack toms, a 16” x 18” floor tom, and a 5.5” x 14” chrome snare. The tom sizes and metal snare were uncharacteristic of “bop” kits of the day, which tended toward smaller toms and wood snares. But they were very much in keeping with Art’s penchant for power and volume.
In the 1950s and ’60s, Gretsch drums were the brand of choice for virtually every important jazz drummer, and Art was no exception. However, where most of his contemporaries favored traditional pearl or the slightly flashier sparkle finishes, Art sought to set himself apart. So when Gretsch introduced its pseudo-psychedelic Flame finish in the 1960s, Art opted for the “hipper” look of the moonglow flame color. Its iridescent finish would appear to move with changes in lighting.
Even while he continues to tour as a solo artist, from time to time Terry returns to flex his impressive chops in a band setting. One such occasion was the 2012 reunion tour for prog supergroup U.K., which brought Terry back together with singer/bassist John Wetton and keyboardist/violinist Eddie Jobson. The kit shown here is a slightly scaled-down (!) version of his regular performance configuration.
The kit was assembled from scratch by Victor Salazar, former owner of Vic’s Drum Shop in Chicago. It debuted at the Victoria Theatre in Chicago on May 1, 2012. It features Drum Workshop Collector’s Series maple drums in a custom chrome wrap, with Slingerland-style hoops. It includes four bass drums, two woofers (low-end enhancers), one snare drum, five piccolo toms, and ten assorted rack and floor toms—all with heads signed by Terry. Hardware is all by Drum Workshop, including nine bass drum and hi-hat pedals. The kit also includes fifty Sabian cymbals, from the Radia series that Terry himself developed with Sabian.
Black Sabbath’s tours always combined the heaviest of heavy metal sounds with the most outrageous spectacle possible. The kits created for Tommy Clufetos by Drum Workshop for those tours reflect that spectacular approach.
Although the finish of Tommy’s kits changed dramatically from tour to tour, his basic configuration did not. Each tour kit combines a bevy of small and large single-headed concert toms with two 16” x 24” bass drums, a
10” x 14” rack tom on a snare stand, 16” x 16” and 16” x 18” floor toms, and an 8” x 14” snare drum.
The kit shown here represents Joe Morello’s abiding sense of individuality. Where most of his jazz contemporaries in the 1950s and ’60s played Gretsch drums, Joe opted to go with Ludwig—a brand more closely associated with Ringo Starr, Ginger Baker, and other rock drummers of the day.
In March of 2011, Andy Doerschuk wrote in DRUM! magazine, “By the late 1950s jazz drummers had transitioned from big band to small combo jazz, and in the process scaled down their kits with diminutive 18” bass drums. In contrast, Morello outfitted his four-piece kit with a booming 14” x 22” bass drum, as well as a 9” x 13” rack tom and two 16” floor toms (all finished in a bold silver sparkle), with a 5” x 14” Ludwig Black Beauty or Super Sensitive metal snare drum. He clearly wanted to make a statement.”
From the 1980s through the turn of the century, the Paiste cymbal company’s most successful line was its 2002 series. Accordingly, in the year 2002 the company commemorated that success by commissioning drum craftsman Jeff Ocheltree to create three drum kits with shells made from 2002 cymbal-alloy bronze. One kit went to company president Erik Paiste, one went to Danny Carey of the band Tool, and one went to longtime Paiste artist Carl Palmer. The signatures of Carl and Jeff appear on the drums.
Carl’s kit was the only double-bass configuration, and it originally included 10” x 12” and 10” x 14” rack toms, 14” x 16” and 16” x 16” floor toms, two 16” x 22” bass drums, and a 5½” x 14” snare drum. He used it for some Asia demos, a clinic tour with Danny Carey, and a 2007 tour with Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy in the UK.
The drums shown here are the right-foot bass drum, the 14” rack tom, the 16” x 16” floor tom, and the snare drum from the original kit. Carl sold the rest of the drums to an extremely dedicated fan.
The kit shown here was made for Cozy by Yamaha. He used it on a variety of musical projects late in his career. It includes 6” x 6” and 8” x 8” double-headed melodic toms, 9” x 13” and 10” x 14” rack toms, 16” x 16” and 16” x 18” floor toms, and two 18” x 24” bass drums. The drums are covered in a black-and-chrome wrapped finish.
The Buddy Rich kit shown here was Buddy’s last kit as a Slingerland endorser. Buddy used this kit up until he made the transition over to Ludwig in 1978. The kit is complete with 9×13, (2) 16×16, 14×24, canister throne, cymbal stands, L arms (including the
Rogers L arm for the splash cymbal), high hat stand, snare drum stand, and the original Rogers swiv-o-matic foot pedal that Buddy used.
The kit is fitted with Ludwig pedals, tom and cymbal stands, and matching canister throne. Ed became a Sabian cymbal artist in the 1980s, and the cymbals shown here are from his personal collection—including his own 21” Ed Shaughnessy Signature Ride.
The kit shown here was created by Premier for Alice Cooper’s 1973 Billion Dollar Babies tour. According to a description posted on drummercafe.com in February of 2016, “This iconic mirror-ball set consists of two 22” bass drums, three 16” floor toms, four 13” and two 14” rack toms, and concert toms measuring 10”, 12”, 13”, 14”, 15”, and 16”. There’s also a 14” Premier metal snare, three early 1970’s Zildjian 18” crash/ride cymbals, and all original hardware. The kit shows areas of wear to the wraps, hoops, and heads that tell the story of life on the road with one of the most unique and exciting bands of all time.”
The kit shown here is a one-of-a-kind clear acrylic outfit created by Drum Workshop for the Who’s appearance at Super Bowl XLIV in 2010. It consists of two 16” x 24” bass drums; 8” x 12”, 9” x 13”, and 10” x 14” rack toms; 16” x16” and 16” x 18” floor toms; and a 6½” x 14” snare drum. It’s equipped with Drum Workshop 5000 Series pedals and stands, and it also features British flag–colored cymbals made for the occasion by Zildjian. The cymbals carry Zak’s signature, and the snare drum head has a salutation from Zak to this book’s author.
The kit shown here saw Joe and the rest of the Bat Out of Hell cast through those three years of touring. It’s a 1970s-era Slingerland outfit with a natural mahogany finish. It features the single-headed concert toms that were so popular at that time. These toms are particularly deep, however, creating the powerful attack that helped Joe drive the band on their arena and stadium performances around the world.
The suspended concert toms are 6”, 8”, 10”, 12”, 14”, and 16” in diameter. The kit also includes a 14” x 22” bass drum, 16” x 16” and 18” x 18” double-headed floor toms, and a 6½” x 14” snare drum. The pedals and stands are all the original Slingerland models. The bass drum head has a graphic with Joe’s name and a version of the Bat Out of Hell imagery, and all of the drums are signed by Joe on the inside of the shells. The snare drum batter head carries a greeting from Joe to the author.
In February of 2012 Van Halen toured in support of their album A Different Kind of Truth. The Ludwig maple drum kit that Alex assembled for the tour features gold hardware on the drums, along with a reflective engine-turned wrap finish.
The kit features two main 16” x 26” bass drums, each of which has a 14” x 26” drum clamped directly in front—all with their batter and resonant (front) heads still on. Two outer 18” bass drums are also added, each of which has an O’Doule’s beer tap handle fitted into its front head.
Rack toms are 8” x 12” and 9” x 13”, with 16” x 16” and 16” x 18” floor toms. The snare is a 6½” x 14” matching maple-shell drum. A pair of Taye chrome timbales and four 6”-diameter deep-shelled melodic toms are to the far left on the kit. Bass drum pedals are Ludwig Speed King models, while the hi-hat, cymbal arms, and drum rack are by Drum Workshop.
The cymbals are a selection of Paiste models reflecting Alex’s choice of size and type. These include his 24” Alex Van Halen Signature Big Ride, which Paiste introduced in 2004.
This drum set was used by Charlie Watts for the rehearsals in advance of the Stones 2012 50th anniversary tour. Charlie Watts requested a Gretsch similar to his vintage stage kit. Histrorian & drum shop owner Steve Maxwell provided the drums in the following configuration: Gretsch 8×12, 16×16, 14×22 USA Custom with a slightly aged finish to be some what close to Charlie’s in terms of basic color.