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Keith Moon’s Drumkits: 1975–1976 – Premier cream/white kit

Christie’s auction, November 2006

Click to view larger version. Christie’s auction, November 2006

Two Premier floor-Toms from a specially commissioned Premier Drum Kit used by Keith Moon in The Who during the mid-1970s (estimate: £8,000–12,000 each)

A brass Avedis Zildjian Co. cymbal used by Keith Moon in The Who (estimate: £2,000–4,000).

Cream/white with “gold” (actually copper) fittings and reinforcing plates. Keith had requested gold-plated fittings, but Premier advised against this because of rapid wear.

Gifted to Ringo Starr, who gave it to his son Zak Starkey. Sold through Sotheby’s London on 27 Aug., 1992, for approximately $12,000 all-inclusive, reportedly to the Hard Rock Café.

Timeline

Confirmed first date used:
3 Oct. 1975 – New Bingley Hall, Stafford, UK.
Confirmed last date used:
21 Oct. 1976 – Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Canada.

Specification

Note: Diagram is missing second timpani (used for holding setlist); and includes incorrect crash above high toms (B).

The Final Setup: 1970–1978
1976 cream with gold hardware kit

Ca. 1976, with cream/white Premier kit.

Drums:

Premier Custom Built (mahogany)

  1. Two 22 bass drums
  2. Two timbales
  3. 16 x 16 single-headed (concert) tom
  4. 15 x 12 single-headed (concert) tom
  5. 18 floor tom
  6. 16 x 18 floor tom
  7. 14 x 10 single-headed (concert) tom
  8. 13 x 9 single-headed (concert) tom
  9. 12 x 8 single-headed (concert) tom
  10. 10 x 6½ single-headed (concert) tom
  11. 14 x 10 mounted tom
  12. 14 x 10 mounted tom
  13. 14 x 10 mounted tom
  14. 14 x 6½ or 5½ Gretsch snare
  15. One or two Premier 22½ timpani

Cymbals:

Likely Paiste 2002 series

  1. 22 ride
  2. 20 crash
  3. 14 splash
  4. 18 crash
  5. 14 hi-hat
  6. One or two Paiste gongs (1x30, 1x36)
Selmer/Premier ad, ca. 1975.

Selmer/Premier ad, ca. 1975.

Stands:

Premier Lock Fast

Bass Pedals:

Premier 250 pedal

Drumskins

Remo black dot drumheads on toms

Whereabouts

  • Keith gives the kit to Ringo Starr. Ringo then gives it to his son Zak Starkey as a birthday present.
  • Zak uses this kit live in the early ’80s with his bands The Next, Dead Meat, and Monopacific. See Kathy’s Zak Starkey site for more.
  • Zak gives it to the Astoria in London in March 1988.
  • Next mention of the drum kit is in Geoff Nichols “Drum book,” with a picture credited to Sotheby’s.
  • Sold through Sotheby’s London on 27 Aug., 1992, for approximately $12,000 all-inclusive, reportedly to the Hard Rock Café.

Selected quotes

All quotes and references are copyright their original owners and are included for reference only.

Excerpt from International Musician, April 1976

What does your kit consist of?

KM: Well, it’s a Premier kit for a start. The snare is a Gretsch, but the rest is entirely Premier. There are four double-headed tom-toms — 12, 13, 14 and 16. Then in front of them are five single-headed tom-toms which are 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16. A lot of people might write in and say they don’t make a 15, and the fact is they don’t. But they did for me. That’s the top line. On the right, there are two double-headed tom-toms which I think are 18 by 18, and two 16. Then, mounted on stands, there are two 14open-ended drums and two timbales. On the left, there are two tympani and behind, a Paiste 30 Chinese gong. Two bass drums and that’s about it. Cymbals ranging from left to right are 22 ride, 20 crash ride, 14 splash in the centre and then a line of three — 18, 20 and 22. At the back, at an angle above the timbales, I’ve got a Chinese cymbal. The high-hat has two 15 cymbals. I keep that permanently closed.

Excerpt from January 1977 issue of Circus: Keith Moon’s Versatile Set-up:

His reputation as “The Wild Man Of Rock” seems anything but a misnomer yet behind it all lies a superior drummer. One can get a feel of just how superior by examining the complexity of his drum set-up. Each piece has a purpose and is there to produce the necessary colors needed during a Who performance. Keith plays a Premier kit with two bass drums and a Gretsch snare. Up front he uses five single-headed tom-toms—12″, 13″, 14″, 15″ (custom made) and 16″. Behind those are four double-headed tom-toms—12″, 13″, 14″ and 16″. On the right are two more double-headed toms. Mounted on stands are two 14″ open-ended drums and timbales. On the left are two tympani, and behind, a Paiste 30″ gong. Cymbals from left to right are a 22″ ride, 20″ crash, 14″ splash and three others—18″ 20″ and 22″. Keith keeps the high-hat permanently closed with a ¼″ gap to get that “sshooshh” sound.

Says Keith of his performance, “I try to involve myself entirely with the music, then the drums become part of the music. I have the ability to function physically while my consciousness is elsewhere, I’m listening to what Pete’s doing, I’m listening to what John’s doing. I don’t have time to think about what I’m doing. A drummer doesn’t need to think about what he’s doing. He just does it.”

Sotheby’s London auction catalogue, courtesy www.whocollection.com.

Sotheby’s London auction catalogue photo, courtesy Brad Rodgers, whocollection.com.

Sotheby’s London auction catalogue description:

Keith Moon’s Premier Drum Kit, Circa 1975, white finish with copper-coloured fittings and stands, comprising: two 56cm.(22in.) bass drums; three 36cm.(14in.) tom toms (one damaged); six concert tom toms ranging in size from 25cm.(10in.) to 41cm.(16in.); two 41cm.(16in.) floor tom toms and fourteen stands and tom tom posts, stands with much wear and tear.

Keith Moon originally wanted a drum kit with gold-plated fittings, but Premier persuaded him that such a soft finish would have an extremely short lifespan, in view of his style of playing! The copper colour is therefore a compromise solution. The damage to the 14in. tom tom is likely to have occurred due to Keith’s habit of standing on the three placed immediately in front of the snare: reinforcing plates and stands were employed to this end.

The current owner has used parts of the kit over several years and, consequently, most of the skins are new. Two chromed Rogers’ posts were used for the purposes of photographing the kit and are not included in the lot.

£7,000–9,000

Click to view larger version. Talking Drums article.

Click to view larger version. Talking Drums article.

Talking Drums article ca. 1975

Keith Moon does everything in a spectacular way. His new 19-drum, 15-stand outfit is finished in plain white, and all the metal parts are finished in polished copper. First public appearance of this superb spectacle is on the Who’s tour of the UK, followed by Holland, Germany and the USA. At the time of going to press, Keith hadn’t actually seen the finished result of his ideas, but his road manager Mick Double was really impressed when he came to collect the complete ensemble.

Premier kit notice in UK paper

Click to view larger version. Astoria Premier article

Click to view larger version. Astoria Premier article.

Text of article:

Astoria over the moon with Premier

The Astoria Theatre situated right in the heart of London is well known to thousands of people as one of the leading live music venues in Britain. John Gunnell, whose company Trichord Leisure recently acquired the Astoria has spent a great deal of time and money refurbishing the theatre both inside and out. The result is a splendid venue with superb facilities.

As part of the refurbishment programme, John has created five bars within the complex — the main bar being named in remembrance of a long-time Premier drummer, and a great friend of John’s — Keith Moon. The Keith Moon bar will be decorated with Moonie memorabilia which will include some of Keith’s gold discs and a huge oil painting of Keith as the Court Jester. But, star of the display is Keith’s own white kit with copper fittings — kindly given to the Astoria by Zak Starkey, whose father, Ringo Starr, was given the kit by Keith.

The kit has recently been returned to the Premier factory for cleaning, and will soon be on display together with a copy of Keith’s endorsement agreement with Premier which has ‘Check — has this been updated?’ written on the corner!

The Astoria, 157 Charing Cross Road, London WC2. Tel: 01-434-9592.

White Premier kit, ca. 1975, from above.

Cream/white Premier kit, ca. 1975, from above, with setlist on second timpani.

White Premier kit, ca. 1975, from above.

Cream/white Premier kit, ca. 1975, from above.

Ca. 1975, showing kit’s copper fittings.

Ca. 1975, showing kit’s copper fittings.

Ca. 1976, side view of kit.

Ca. 1976, side view of kit.

Click to view larger version. White/Cream kit

Click to view larger version.

Click to view larger version. Ca. 1975, Premier/Selmer ad for Lokfast stands, courtesy WhiteFang’s Who Site.

Click to view larger version. Ca. 1975, Premier/ Selmer ad for Lokfast stands. “Lokfast helps Premier stand up to Keith Moon.” Courtesy WhiteFang’s Who Site.

1976

1976

Copper timbale from Premier kit on display at the Hard Rock Café in Los Angeles.

Copper timbale from Premier kit on display at the Hard Rock Café in Los Angeles.

Two of Keith’s copper stands available for sale from Rock Stars Guitars.

Two of Keith’s copper stands available for sale from Rock Stars Guitars.

Resources and Information

Contributors:

Many thanks to the following, who have made this page possible:

Additional information:

Bibliography:

  • Drums & Drumming magazine, October/November 1989.
  • Modern Drummer, September 2003.
  • Moon, the Life and Death of a Rock Legend, by Tony Fletcher. 1999.

Manufacturers’ sites