Apr 10, 2008

John Aldridge - My unrelated twin drum brother

Had a rare chance to hang out with my good buddy John Aldridge, the Godfather of the Vintage Drum scene, when he came to Providence RI with REO Speedwagon this week. I've know John for probably close to twenty years. When my vintage drum obsession morphed into a a vintage drum business in the late 80's I tracked down John, who had a small newsletter/magazine called Not So Modern Drummer and was the foremost authority on such things. I called him and we ended up talking for two hours that first time and have been friends ever since (John still introduces me as his twin brother, which is humorous on many levels)

John is also the foremost drum engraver in the business, so when I started making the Galaxy custom snare drum a few years later, I decided to use real brass hoops (which almost no one was offering at the time) and as a tip of the hat to the great drums of the 20's and 30's, I asked John to engrave them. He did a masterful job, and although there are only about 40 or so of those drums around their value is enhanced by John's tremendous artistry. Later he engraved ten hand-hammered copper shell snare drums (see picture) I made as a limited edition run. John and I would room together at early trade shows and always have memorable times staying up until all hours yapping our heads off about Leedy Diamond lugs with the likes of Rob Cook, Chet Falzerano, and the late Liam Mulholland - vintage drum pioneers all.

While the first issues of NSMD were typewritten and Xeroxed, over the years John grew the magazine into THE bible for vintage and custom drum enthusiasts. Still editor of NSMD, he recently sold the business to William Ludwig III who now publishes it out of Chicago.

John has been drum teching for REO Speedwagon for over three years and when I saw him in Providence he showed me the fine set-up he put together for drummer Bryan Hitt. He assembled a custom rack system to suspend the two rack and two floor toms, along with a one legged (!) snare stand which is anchored to the throne.

Also on the tour are Styx (with drummer Todd Sucherman) and headliners Def Leppard. We had a great time catching up and John clued me in on a possible large scale engraving project he pitched to a major drum company. Stay tuned for more details...

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