Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Radio Kings

I don't know if you checked out Mr. Whoamus' recent post entitled “Charlie Mac Attack,” but it concerned my old (I mean really old) set of Slingerland Gene Krupa Signature Radio Kings. The badges on this set date it to the mid to late '40's. (For more info on how to date drums by their badge style and type, go to www.vintagedrumguide.com). The “rest of the story,” as Paul Harvey once famously intoned, is this: sometime in the fall of 1963, when I was 12 years old, I went over to my friend John's house to dink around. Sitting in his basement were the Slingerland's, owned by his father, I'm guessing, from new. Although I'd never played a drum set before, I was intrigued, and sat down and pounded out a basic beat. Well, I was hooked – I moved on to get a cheap set of Silvertone drums from money saved up raising pigs on the farm, and I watched John play these drums in various bands through junior high and high school. He got a new set of Ludwigs (ironically enough, I owned those, too, for a few years) and I lost track of the Radio Kings. In 1972 I had moved back to my home town for employment, and happened to see the ol' Slingerlands in a pawn shop for 75 bucks. They weren't in real good shape, but for that amount of money, I snatched them up, and they've been with me ever since (except for a short period of time when they were used by Mr. Whoamus' son in his early drumming years). As you can see from the pix, they've gone through some changes:

Here's another pix of the set from last December, that shows a bit more. They used to be yellow marine pearl (same color as a lot of Krupa's sets), but I had to remove that finish more than 15 years ago when it started to chip and peel off.

Here is the set the day I brought it home (being played by a 21 one year old, 1972 version of yours truly as well)

Here I am holdin' down the backline of my band “Too Much Fun,” circa 1975 (I'd kill to have that hair again!)

Here I am all greased up and rockin' during our '50's set, pic taken in 1976 or so. Yow!

So fast forward to 2010, I'm just glad to be still rockin', and still playin' the ol' Radio Kings.

Gene Krupa would approve.

P.S. What happened to my friend John? Well, he's still rockin' as well: check out his band “Echos V” (www.echosv.com) down in West Des Moines, IA. As you can see, old guys (and old drums) never die, they just keep on rockin'!

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