Sunday, 10 August 2014

Ringo's Custom Premier Drum Kit

Fifty-year-old Slovak born photographer Dezo Hoffman took this photo of Ringo with his Premier kit in Abbey Road Studio 3 on
4 September 1962, during the session that produced Love Me Do. This was Starr's first session in Abbey Road.
This was the first drum kit that Ringo Starr played with The Beatles. Although Starr is more traditionally associated with Ludwig drum kits, the original kit he owned when he joined The Beatles was this mahogany coloured Duroplastic kit. It was this Premier kit, not a Ludwig, that provided the driving beat behind The Beatles' earliest recordings, including their first 3 singles and all of their first album. This is the drum kit that put the beat into Merseybeat.

Purchased by Starr around July 1960 from Hessay's music store in Liverpool, it was a custom combination of Premier's 58 and 54 drum kits. The four-piece kit consisted of:
  • 20"x17" bass drum
  • 12"x8" rack tom mounted on a non-standard Rogers Swiv-O-Matic tom-tom holder
  • 16"x16" floor tom
  • 14"x4" Royal Ace wood shell snare drum
  • Premier Zyn hi-hat cymbal and stand
  • Premier Zyn crash cymbal and stand
  • Premier Zyn ride cymbal and stand
The 54 kit was one of the least expensive of Premier's range, retailing at £125 - around £2500 or $4200 in todays money.

I'd seen one in this finish at a music show and told Ringo it looked magnificent.

Bernard Michaelson, manager of Hessay's Music Store, Liverpool, interviewed by Andy Babiuk 17 March 2002, in Beatles Gear: All the Fab Four's Instruments from Stage to Studio (p70)
Ringo plays his Premier kit at ABC TV's Teddington Studios for
Thank Your Lucky Stars on 17 February 1963.
The Beatles "bug" logo features on the drum head.
While playing with Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, Ringo had put the initials RS on the front of the kick drum, replacing them with his name by the time he joined The Beatles. This was replaced with The Beatles new "bug" logo for their tour with Helen Shapiro in February 1963. The logo was designed by Liverpool signwriter Tex O'Hara, based on sketches made by McCartney. O'Hara's brother Brian was guitarist in The Fourmost, another Liverpool band managed by Brian Epstein.

We played around with different ideas to find out which ones they liked. I did about five to ten drawings - which I've still got - and showed them to the group. They settled on one logo, which was put on a piece of linen and stretched across the front of the drum. 

Tex O'Hara, interviewed by Andy Babiuk, 19 August 1996, in Beatles Gear: All the Fab Four's Instruments from Stage to Studio (p82)
Starr continued to use the Premier kit until April 1963, when he and Brian Epstein traded it in for a new Ludwig Downbeat kit at Drum City, 114 Shaftesbury Avenue, London.





The Premier kit was used on the following Beatles recordings:

  • Love Me Do (Single Version) (Past Masters)
  • How Do You Do It (Anthology 1)
  • P.S. I Love You (Please Please Me)
  • Please Please Me (Please Please Me)
  • Ask Me Why (Please Please Me)
  • There's A Place (Please Please Me)
  • I Saw Her Standing There (Please Please Me)
  • A Taste of Honey (Please Please Me)
  • Do You Want To Know A Secret (Please Please Me)
  • Misery (Please Please Me)
  • Anna (Go To Him) (Please Please Me)
  • Boys (Please Please Me)
  • Chains (Please Please Me)
  • Baby It's You (Please Please Me)
  • Twist and Shout (Please Please Me)
  • From Me To You (Past Masters)
  • Thank You Girl (Past Masters)
  • One After 909 (Anthology 1)