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..

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