In Search of Levon's Ludwig's

BonzoBonham

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K.O. said:
I love Levon's kit, it also reminds me of a similar kit used by Roger Pope who played with Elton John back in the day. It was a mahogony Ludwig with wooden rims. How I lusted those drums.....
I think Pope's set with Elton was a new (at the time) set constructed to look like that whereas Levon's were vintage drums he put together himself (hence no one at Ludwig back then really knowing anything about them). The letter seems to indicate that Ludwig thought Scott was asking about a new set that they had built for Helm. But when looking at photos of the set it's pretty clear that they were old drums. It would be like asking Slingerland about the Radio King drums Buddy Rich was using in the 80's and them responding "We haven't sent him any drums recently and don't know what drums you mean".

I wonder if Pope got the idea for his set from seeing Levon's at some point?
parkermike said:
I love Levon's kit, it also reminds me of a similar kit used by Roger Pope who played with Elton John back in the day. It was a mahogony Ludwig with wooden rims. How I lusted those drums.....
A 1974 built set of Ludwig Pro-Beats. He first had this kit when he was with the Kiki Dee Band in 1974-75, prior to joining Elton. He then used the same kit during the recording of the "Rock of the Westies" album and tour in late '75. Then retired those in favor of a white Cortex Big Beat kit in '76...

24 inch bass, 13 and 14 inch toms, 16 and 18 inch floor toms, although he used the 18 on an on-off basis from what photographic evidence I have seen. Plus a 6.5x14 Super Sensitive snare.

 

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JDA

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yes without audience in a pre-concert 'showcase type setting


and then, with audience in the heat of battle

 
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mlayton

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BonzoBonham said:


From the Last Waltz?

Like the bass drum head with the 70's Ludwig logo...
Single tension it appears.

Mike
 

Sonorholic

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I think the drums in the above photo/video are budget line marching drums from the 60's /70's so they might not have been that old when he found 'em. I've seen pictures of that kit where there is a rail mount on the bass drum or maybe a hoop mount holder for the tom but it looks shiny not old.

I think he may have used the Gretsch on more stuff than we think.
 

Patrick

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The Modern Drummer interview Robyn Flans published has more detail than I have found thus far in my reread of Wheel's On Fire.

http://theband.hiof.no/articles/modern_drummer_08_1984_lh_interview.html

RF: What about equipment?
LH: I've always been sort of a Gretsch-Ludwig man myself. Those used to be the ones that would hold up well on the road. They were made real heavy and could even carry a Fender amplifier on their backs for a good long road trip in the back of a car or something.
RF: What did you play with Dylan and The Band?
LH: I probably had a set of Gretsch or Ludwig at the time. Since then I played some Yamaha drums that I like a lot. And I like the Yamaha people a lot too. They've been really nice to me and The Band, as well as very supportive and accommodating. Now when I play, my set is kind of a hybrid set. I've got a little bit of everything in there. I've got a couple of different bass drums that I like and that travel well. I've got a couple of tom-toms that are louder. They don't have to match as long as I've got a 13" or 14" tenor tom, a 15" or 16" baritone tom and a good snare drum. I usually prefer just a regular wooden snare. I stay away from the all-chrome snares.
RF: Why do you prefer wood?
LH: I like that wood sound better. I have some old Ludwig drums that I found in a pawnshop out in L.A. that have wooden rims and are real old. I've cut records with them. They are thin-ply drums and have a different sound. They don't travel well sometimes, though, with the weather and the night air. My hybrid set now is a Ludwig snare, some Gretsch tom-toms, a Ludwig bass and some Zildjian cymbals. I usually like a couple of those, a good set of sock cymbals and a couple of cowbells. That's about as far as I usually take it.
RF: Like you said, all you need is what you have. Sometimes, what you don't play makes a statement better than what you play.
LH: The old saying "It ain't what you play; it's what you don't play and what you leave out" is true.

BTW the photos section of Levon's section of the HIOF is full of shots --some with solid dates--of him playing the wood hooped kit, sundry Gretsch etc.
http://theband.hiof.no/band_pictures/helm_photos.html
 

BennyK

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mlayton said:


From the Last Waltz?

Like the bass drum head with the 70's Ludwig logo...
Single tension it appears.

Mike
Anything smaller than a 14 single tension/wood hoop tom is pretty scarce .
 

K.O.

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I think they did make some 13" marching snares like that. Intended for Cub Scouts and the like.
 
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dan1434

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K.O. said:
I think they did make some 13" marching snares like that. Intended for Cub Scouts and the like.
Yep..my Levon kit has a 13" as the rack tom.
 

mlayton

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First floor tom on that kit looks like it has tube lugs and single flange hoops from what I can tell.

Mike
 

dan1434

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mlayton said:
First floor tom on that kit looks like it has tube lugs and single flange hoops from what I can tell.

Mike
Not sure if Levon had the matching floor tom to the single lug marchers this thread is addressing. I think those are some slingerlands he matched up with them.
 

Scott K Fish

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campbellh -

That's a terrific photo of Levon's signed snare drum. I've never heard the expression, "Don't ever give down." I get the gist, but wonder where Levon got this variation on, "Don't ever give up." Any idea?

Thank you.

skf
 

Carlos McSnurf

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Maybe Levon played what sounded best to him...that simple.
Bill Bruford mentioned in one interview, he came to Yes with a mix of Ludwig drums in different wrap. He picked them due to sonic match, not a look
 

& You Dont Stop

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I want to time warp back to the late 70s and ask Mavis Staples if she wants to go steady. So beautiful, physically and musically.
JDA said:
yes without audience in a pre-concert 'showcase type setting


and then, with audience in the heat of battle

 
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Patrick

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This Wheel's on Fire, page 184 when they were recording the brown album:

"Garth always believed in visiting pawnshops whenever he hit a new town, because he found good old horns and rare music books there. By then I could afford the first of several Corvettes and buy a good twelve-string Martin guitar I wanted. Down at the pawnshops on Santa Monica Boulevard I found this set of drums with wooden rims for $130 and I fell in love with them.I bought the whole kit with a set of cymbals; a great crash and a real good ride. These were old-fashioned instruments but they read well on the microphones when you had a tape machine going. So I ended up using the bass, the snare and one of the two cymbals in that set on the album, and we'd take 'em out on the road when we toured. I also have an inlaid antique mandolin, circa the 1930's from that shop."

Never gets around to brand and models.
 

Scott K Fish

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Patrick - Thank you. I own and have read This Wheel's On Fire, but it's in a box somewhere.

Best,
skf
 

Patrick

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It's worth digging out Scott. I am enjoying my second read.
 

AtlantaDrumGuy

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On most of the records, the bass drum sounds real low. The Gretsch kit was a 20. I'd bet he travelled more with the Gretsch, but recorded mainly with the big drums (I'm only talking in the pre Yamaha era).
 

ron pangborn

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Got to play Levon's drums at one of the Midnight Rambles about 5 or 6 or so years ago now. They were Nashville Slingerlands, (20,16,14,12,14), and sounded outstanding! He asked me to pick out a different snare and ride cymbal than the one he would be using that night. I was taken to his drum closet and saw a huge collection of Ludwig, Slingerland and Yamaha drums. I chose a Yamaha 6.5 x14 rosewood snare. The wood hoop Luddy's from the Last Waltz studio segments were no where to be found, nor were the BDP Gretsch/Ludwig drums he was so often seen playing. He was also kind enough to let me pick through multiple cymbal bags of Zildjians. He suggested I check out the Armands he had just gotten from Zildjian. What a gracious, kind man.
 

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Levon was using a Yamaha Rock Tour kit when my band opened for The Band in 1994. He still sounded like Levon no matter what he played. He would still be Levon if he played a mix of First Act and Hello Kitty. Just deep, deep, deep into that groove. He brought it everywhere like a suitcase. Didn't get a chance to talk to him much but he was very nice to our little local band.




Dan
 


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