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Diary of a Drum Tech Pt. 10


Van Morrison WMP KitWhere was I?

Upon my return to the UK my first job back in the shop was to prep our black Rogers kit for use by Placebo’s Steve Forrest in their new video for ‘Ashtray Heart’ shot at a ‘secret’(ooh, the mystery!) location in London.

We used the same kit for ‘Control’ The Story of Joy Division, where we recreated the kit Stephen Morris used during his days with them. There’s a link between the two which is that my son Nick was Stephen’s tech for New Order and is now playing guitar for Placebo.

The day after the shoot I attended the Placebo gig at The Roundhouse in Camden during the iTunes Festival Week. I had already worked with most of the Placebo crew with different bands going back years so they were gracious enough to allow my private helicopter into the compound!

Van Morrison WMP Kit RearFour of my sons have played drums in bands, so there is lots of banter and rivalry within our camp, headed by their extremely bitter and resentful old man…

Placebo headed off to Taiwan and Japan for festival shows shortly after. Taiwan went well, but in Japan, singer Brian Molko collapsed on stage before Nick had even plugged in and had played a note. From a crew perspective the response would have been, ‘RESULT!’…a day off! Brian is resting before embarking upon the rest of their schedule which finishes October 2010. The US tour is being rescheduled.

Back in the shop we have re-wraps and repairs to perform. On of the jobs on our agenda is to filter the entire Bob Henrit drum collection back into the mainstream sellers market. There is plenty of Pearl hardware and drums for sale, along with an Arbiter kit in piano black for the enthusiast.

Morrison WMP Kit RearI am fortunate to live a few minutes from Marion Bigden, the widow of Alf Bigden who played drums on the James Bond themes and backed huge artists during his career, which included Tony Bennett during the Palladium shows. Alf was a Hayman endorser during the early ‘70’s. I managed to get hold of his percussion collection before it was dispersed at boot sales and lost forever. It is a very handy addition to my hire stock. Alf was originally a percussionist. Keen musician/actor Paul ‘Denzil’ Barber from ‘Only Fools And Horses’ lives just along the road too here in Clacton. It all goes on up here!

My next trip is to the US with Van Morrison. The drummer in the hot seat is Robbie Ruggiero who hails from from Las Vegas, with Rick Shlosser on percussion. Rick has been around since the early ‘70’s having played drums for everyone in the background including Bowie, Boz Skaggs, Paul Simon, Little Feat, Cher, Jackson Browne etc.

Robbie plays a lot of Vegas shows and is a dab hand and expert at playing Buddy Rich works, note for note so beware! He actually owns an original BR Rogers kit. As soon as he hits the skids, I shall make him an offer for it rather than him suffer!

Van owns a lot of the backline so we use his DW 20/10/12/16. The percussion is hired Latin Percussion gear.

Rick Schlosser PercussionWe start in Boston and rehearse for 2 days in the Wang Center. Polly Bolzano works at the theatre and is an old friend of the Clapton camp so it is good to see her. She was also our promoter rep in Boston for the Annie Lennox show in 2007.

The band is full of very competent musicians whom I had not met before.

Multi–instrumentalists abound! Jay Berliner is on guitar and has over 13000 recordings to his credit… Blimey! The music could do with a few power chords though and a foot up on the wedge monitor!

Van’s Liam Bradley had done an interview for this site shortly before I flew out about his time with Van, so I used it to my benefit and kept a very low profile!

After the Boston show we moved on to the Constitution Hall, Washington DC.

Van Morrison SetupThe venue is set amongst the background of the White House, Capitol Hill and the Lincoln Memorial. I felt like Tom Hanks! Two shows here and it was onto Atlantic City to the dreadfully named, Circus Maximus casino!

The only thing missing there are 75 year old shell suited, pony-tailed, gold laden Walthamstow types singing ‘Knees Up Mother Brown’ whilst eating from Tubby Isaacs whelk stall. Mind you, I may have been back in Clacton wondering how I got home so quick! We are the new Marbella of the East Coast.
Fortunately it was only one show there before heading home from JFK Airport.

My next gig is covering for Martin with Bat for Lashes at the Isle of Wight, before resuming with Van Morrison for more US shows.

Mike Dolbear’s Gretsch kit from the ‘70’s is getting a makeover in Champagne Sparkle. How will it go? No doubt I will let you know in the coming months with a blow by blow account with photos.

See ya,


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