FROM DRUM! MAGAZINE’S APRIL 2018 ISSUE | BY DONN BENNETT
Around 2010 I got a call from Dennis Gerrits, Ludwig’s Midwest sales rep and a longtime vintage drum collector. Joey Kramer had recently returned to playing Ludwig drums and the folks at Ludwig were busy outfitting the superstar drummer with an arsenal of their newest drums. Gerrits had the enviable job of helping Kramer make room for his new Ludwigs in Aerosmith’s overflowing storage facility. This custom-finished pink and black Tama Crestar kit is one of several sets and snares that Gerrits acquired at this time.
This Tama kit was one of two that were custom made for Aerosmith’s 1987 Permanent Vacation tour. Kramer asked Joe Hibbs, artist relations manager at Tama at the time, to build a drum set to match a guitar owned by Joe Satriani. Creating this finish was a complicated process. It required dipping the entire shell into pink paint and then into a special black paint that separated as it dried. This created the swirling two-tone effect. Tama was not capable of producing this finish so the shells were sent to the Ibanez guitar factory, where the custom paint was applied.
This kit includes 8″ × 8″, 10″ × 8″, 10″ × 10″, and 12″ × 12″ mounted toms; 15″ x 15″ and 16″ × 16″ floor toms; a 24″ × 16″ bass drum; and a 14″ × 6.5″ snare drum.
As I researched this kit, I found several photos of Kramer playing a pink Tama Granstar set on the Permanent Vacation tour but I couldn’t find any trace of the pink and black Crestars. The history of this kit remained a mystery until I received an “out of the blue” message from Andy Gilman, Kramer’s tech for ten years during the 1980s and 1990s.
It turns out he was well-acquainted with both of the Permanent Vacation kits. According to Gilman, Hibbs wasn’t sure if Kramer would like the pink/black swirl finish. He didn’t want to risk the expense of building two Granstar kits in the event that Kramer wasn’t happy with the set once it was completed. Hibbs was also getting resistance from the accountants at Tama about the cost of supplying Kramer with both kits. Hibbs, one of the world’s most diplomatic problem solvers, got Tama to agree to make both sets as long as one of them was the slightly less expensive Crestar birch line they had just introduced.
Kramer loved the Crestars but Aerosmith’s sound crew could never get it to sound the way they wanted, so it was put on “permanent vacation” after a couple of shows and replaced by the all-pink Granstar kit. The Crestars spent the rest of the tour in cases on the truck.
Donn Bennett is an eminent collector and dealer of rare and vintage drums. His collection is on display at Donn Bennett Drum Studio in Bellevue, Washington. firstname.lastname@example.org