Monday, February 7, 2011

Ludwig Barrett Deems Model Snare Drum

Barrett Deems billed himself as " the World's Fastest Drummer." He played with many of the top names in Jazz, including Tommy Dorsey, Jimmy Dorsey, Woody Herman, Red Norvo, and Art Hodes. In the 1950's, he joined Louie Armstrong's Band and, along with recording numerous albums with him, appeared with Louie in the film High Society (1956) which starred Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Grace Kelly.

In the early 1960's, Barrett left Armstrong and settled down in Chicago. He backed visiting jazz musicians when they came through town and he formed his own big band. During the 1980's, he played regularly with his band at local clubs. I remember seeing Barrett at the Jazz Showcase checking out Louie Bellson when Louie appeared there.

Like many drummers of the time, Barrett switched drum companies at will. He endorsed Ludwig, Slingerland, Premier, and Corder. While he was with Ludwig, the company named the above pictured drum after him. Sporting 8 classic lugs and the tried and true P83 snare strainer, this beauty has a 3 ply mahogany/poplar shell. In 1960, when Barrett moved on to another company, Ludwig simply renamed the drum, calling it the Jazz Festival Model.

For all intents and purposes, that would have been the end of the story. But the story doesn't end there........not by a long shot.

In 1963, a young drummer from Liverpool, along with his manager, walked into Drum City in London and cut a deal with the owner, Ivor Arbiter, to buy a set of drums. Ringo decided on Ludwig Drums and wanted the Black Oyster Wrap. He bought the Ludwig Super Classic Kit, but instead of buying the Ludwig Supraphonic 400 snare drum, which came standard with that set ( See January 5th blog entry), he opted for the Jazz Festival Snare Drum in a matching color. It was this drum that Ringo played on many of those famous songs that the Fab Four recorded in the 1960's.

Thus, the Jazz Festival, formerly known as the Barrett Deems model, occupies a very lofty place in Drum and Pop Music History. It's somewhat ironic that the Jazz Festival Snare Drum is best known for its use by the drummer in the greatest, and most influential band, in Rock Music History.

By the way, Ringo still owns that snare drum that he bought so many years ago.


  1. You are "almost" correct on Ringo. In 1963, he didn't buy the Super Classic. He bought the Downbeat set that has a 12 tom, 14 tom and 20 inch bass. It wasn't until 1965 that he got the super classic. He used the downbeat set for the first 2 years with the Beatles.

    1. You are "almost" correct. :) Ringo received his first Super Classic in May of 1964.