Who Cares About Drum History?

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SKF NOTE: There will always be drummers interested in drum history, and drummers who aren’t interested. That’s my conclusion after years concerned the who-cares-about-drum-history? side would bury the we-care-about-drum-history side.

Based on my experience, if the former prevails, important pieces of drum history won’t be preserved. Pieces of history considered old today will be ignored or, even worse, trashed. And once a piece of unique history is trashed — a letter, a photo, an autograph, a tape recording —it’s gone forever.

Just in the last decade or so a number of important albums were released because someone discovered or remembered old tape reels on a shelf or in a box. Here are three examples:

Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall
John Coltrane Quartet Live at the Half Note: One Down, One Up
Charles Mingus Jazz in Detroit / Strata Concert Gallery / 46 Selden

When the “who cares?” attitude prevails, today’s opportunities to hang onto historical drum artifacts and memories pass unattended.

In my life I’ve rescued excellent out-of-print albums from Goodwill and Salvation Army stores. When asked to reuse (tape over) my Modern Drummer interview cassettes, I kept them instead. From then on I bought my own blank cassettes to use for interviews.

The internet has become an amazing source of historic drum memorabilia. Free or very inexpensive platforms give drum fans — from novices to experts — a place to share all kinds of interesting drum memorabilia.

Some of my favorite web places for drum history are:

Four on the Floor
The Jo Jones Group
The Great Drummers Group

I am optimistic, right now, the preservation of drum history is alive and well. And I am hopeful, yet not fully convinced, a majority of up-and-coming drummers are taking advantage of this wealth of available information.

Have a majority of up-and-coming drummers ever taken advantage of available historic information? I don’t know. My best guess? Up-and-coming drummers with deep interest in drum history have always been a minority. A very dedicated minority.

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