From the December 2016 issue of DRUM! | By Donn Bennett
This early 1970s Fibes drum set was owned and played by Joey Kramer of Aerosmith between 1973 and ’75 — or at least I think it was. Ever since I purchased it, I’ve been trying to trace and verify its history. I uncovered several pieces of solid information on its provenance, but they’re only fragments. I’m still trying to piece together more definitive proof that this is in fact the kit that Kramer played during Aerosmith’s early years. Here’s what I know so far:
The clear acrylic set consists of a 26″ x 14″ bass drum, two 14″ x 10″ rack toms, with 16″ x 16″ and 18″ x 16″ floor toms. It has several unique features that made it easier to identify, such as its custom Rogers Swiv-O-Matic double tom mount on the bass drum and rack toms (see inset photo). And each floor tom has a different brand of leg mounts: The 16″ has stock Fibes leg mounts and the 18″ has Rogers mounts. Even more revealing: “JK” initials (ostensibly short for “Joey Kramer”) are etched into the bass drum hoops, 18″ floor tom, and one of the 14″ rack toms.
I really hit pay dirt when a Facebook friend directed me to a 1975 Aerosmith photo from Getty Images that very clearly shows Kramer playing a clear Fibes set with a Rogers double tom mount on the bass and Fibes and Rogers leg mounts on the floor toms. I also found lots of photos and videos of Kramer playing clear Fibes drums between 1972 and ’75, but the sizes of the bass drums and rack toms varied quite a bit.
One reason he may have changed sizes a lot is simply that Aerosmith toured constantly during these years, and Kramer hits the drums very hard. It’s likely that he simply broke the fairly fragile acrylic shells and replaced them with whatever was available. This idea was supported by a conversation I had with an old friend of Kramer’s named Steve Balsavage, who recalled Kramer lamenting about “breaking three or four of the clear Fibes bass drums.”
I purchased the set from a guy in Florida who bought it from a drummer named Jerry Elliot back in 1997. According to Elliot, he was friends with Joey Kramer back in the ’70s, and the two traded sets. Elliot got this Fibes set and Kramer got a wood-shell Ludwig kit.
Eventually, I was able get in contact with Kramer about this set. He remembered giving a clear acrylic Fibes set like this to Elliot many years ago, but he couldn’t say for sure that this particular one was his. “It was just too long ago.”
It’s been a lot of fun digging through old Aerosmith photos and videos, but I still haven’t been able to write the final chapter on this kit. I’d love to hear from any readers who know anything that would help me finally connect the dots.