Tuesday, December 10, 2013

An Avedis Zildjian Cymbal ad from the 1960's

This ad appeared in Downbeat magazine in the early 1960's, and it best signifies how much the drum business, and the cymbal business in particular, has changed over the years. Back in the day, Downbeat would publish certain issues that would feature musicians and the  instruments that they played. Thus, there would be a percussion issue, a keyboard issue etc. The percussion issue, not surprisingly, would be loaded with ads from drum companies featuring drums and hardware. Ludwig, Slingerland, Rogers, Gretsch, Camco, and Premier all participated.

But cymbal manufacturers were  different, simply because there weren't that many companies. Almost all professional drummers played either A. Zildjian or K Zildjian. Yes, there were a few others, UFIP, for example, but these companies existed on the fringes. Paiste cymbals started a distribution deal with Ludwig drums in the mid 60's. But I vividly remember my drum tutor, Max Mariash, insisting that A. Zildjian cymbals were the only choice for the serious drummer.

A close inspection of this ad indicates how many drummers  used A. Zildjian cymbals at the time. Leading the pack was, of course, Buddy Rich.  But  Louis Bellson, Gene Krupa, Max Roach, and Roy Haynes are featured in the first two lines of the ad!  The rest of the drummers featured are a "who's who" of  professional drummers.

Today, the situation has been turned upside down. First of all, drummers have numerous choices in the marketplace. Paiste, Sabian, Murat Diril, UFIP, Wuhan, and Meinl are just a few of the better known companies. In addition, there are many small custom companies that are trying to grab a piece of the pie.  And it seems like each company has various lines that are tailored to different genres of music.

All in all,  it can be quite confusing. But there's no doubt that drummers today have many more choices than the giants of yesteryear.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Shelly Manne Ad for Leedy Drums

This ad appeared in Downbeat Magazine on March 28th, 1963. I still remember the first time I saw it many years ago. It literally caused me to burst out laughing. But first before we get into that, a little drum history is in order.

The Leedy Drum Company in the 30's and 40's was one of the premier drum manufacturers of the time. Based out of Elkhart Indiana, Leedy introduced the world to the "X" lug and the Broadway series of snare drums. The legendary George Way, who later had a hand in starting Camco, was the prime mover in the manufacture and promotion of the Leedy Drum  line.

The Conn Instrument Company owned both the Ludwig and Leedy brand names and manufactured drums with the Leedy & Ludwig name plate. In the middle 50's, Conn decided to get out ot the drum business and sold both lines. William Ludwig, who at the time was selling drums under the WFL badge, bought back the Ludwig badge. Bud Slingerland, sensing an opportunity to cut into the Ludwig market share, bought all the Leedy patents and equipment.  Slingerland was manufacturing drums out of its Chicago factory .in the 50's and Bud Slingerland simply added Leedy Drums to the company's line up. Thus, Leedy Drums from Chicago  became a reality..

Even though both Slingerland and Leedy were manufactured in the same factory using the same mahogany shells, the idea was to offer two separate drum lines with  different endorsers. Which brings us to this very humorous ad.

The ad is certainly a product of its time. It's a spoof of the Tony award winning play, Lil' Abner. The play was made into a very successful film in 1959 using some of the same actors and actresses who appeared on Broadway. The play is about a fictional hillbilly town called Dogpatch. The women in the film, particularly Daisy Mae the lead female role, are portrayed as clever, buxom, and very aggressive in pursuing men. The model in the ad is clearly chasing Shelly. He, of course, loves his Leedy Drums more than "anything".

Leedy considered Shelly Manne one of their main endorsers. Interestingly enough, there was a Shelly Manne model snare drum, but it was a chrome over brass metal shell, not a wood shell as pictured in the ad.

The Slingerland Leedy marriage was not a successful one. It died after a few years.  Leedy simply faded away until Fred Gretsch bought the line in the 1990's..

Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Ludwig Drum Company Ad from 1970

As I've stated in previous blogs, the Ludwig Drum Company in the 1960's and 70's always seemed to be a step ahead of their competitors in the advertising world. Thanks in no small measure to Ringo Starr and other British Invasion drummers, Ludwig executives realized the importance of aligning their company with the "Now Generation." Ludwig did everything it could to convince aspiring drummers that their drums were "hip" and that their brand was preferable to any other.  Slingerland, Rogers, Camco, and Gretsch were left at the starting gate. They all, eventually, took notice, but none of them could approach the visibility of the Ludwig name.

The pictured ad is just one of many that Ludwig placed in various periodicals. This ad appeared in Jazz and Pop magazine in 1970. Jazz and Pop was the main competitor to Downbeat at the time. Unlike Downbeat, the editors fully embraced the Rock, Pop, and Free Jazz scene that was happening across the country.

This ad is interesting in that it attempted to merge Roy Haynes and his Hip Ensemble with current rock cultural references. Although perhaps Ludwig's version of the rock scene wasn't that current. Light My Fire was already a few years old by this time. Nevertheless, the Doors and this particular song were one of the staples of the 60's music scene.  It also didn't make any difference that the music Roy's band was performing had absolutely nothing to do with the Doors, Light My Fire, or rock music in general.  It was the connection that was important, however tenuous. The implication was clear. You could light your own fire by playing Ludwig Drums....just like Roy Haynes.

Ludwig continued to pursue this advertising course throughout the 1970's. As I mentioned earlier, other drum companies soon caught on, but no other company did it quite like Ludwig.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Rogers Drum Company Ad--Downbeat Magazine Part 2

This is the 2nd page of a double truck ad that appeared in Downbeat Magazine in the early 60's. The first page appeared in a my  blog dated December 22nd. These ads called attention to a 5 day percussion symposium that occurred in New York. Close to 2000 drummers attended.  Back in the day, these conferences were unusual. In fact, I don't recall anything quite like this.

But let's be honest. This ad was part of a massive promotional campaign to put the Rogers Drum Company on the map. Their number one endorser, Buddy Rich, was featured front and center. Other Drummers too shared the spotlight. These included Cozy Cole, Roy Burns, Jim Chapin, and Zutty Singleton.  As the reader can see, this page shows a great picture of Buddy Rich and Joe Morello discussing  some particular aspect of drumming. Joe Morello was Ludwig's number one endorser.  No doubt Ben Strauss and Henry Grossman, the driving forces behind Rogers, were as pleased as punch to have a representative from a major competitor show up at their promotional event.

The Rogers Drum Company never looked back after making its big splash in the early 60's. They were consistently aggressive and innovative concerning their drums and the marketing of them. The drums were not cheap. A 4 piece Rogers drum kit listed for about 200.00 more than a similar configured Ludwig or Slingerland kit. But, in this case. you got what you paid for.

Today, some 50 years after this ad appeared, Rogers Drums still hold their value. Collectors search them out, and drummers around the world still play them and swear by them. You couldn't ask for a better legacy.