I have had a fascination with Rogers drums since I was at school. One of my classmates had a green sparkle set. It remains one of my deepest held memories. A few years later I was playing in a band in Brisbane, on the pub circuit. The repertoire was mostly funk and disco. For reasons I didn’t fully understand then, I was not happy with the sound of my Premier B303 set for this band. I was buying sticks one day when the owner of the store pointed out a Rogers Swivomatic “Londoner Five” kit which had just been used by Roberta Flack’s tour drummer. “Try it out tonight” he suggested. I remember taking the kit to the gig and removing the front head from the bass drum, adding a little padding. We started playing and in the first song, the bass player (who was also the leader) turned around in and said “buy that kit”. I did.
Not long after this photo was taken, I was offered an endorsement with Pearl drums. So it was many years before my thoughts turned to Rogers drums again.
Fullerton restoration #1
I eventually sold my Rogers drum kit, which I had brought with me from Brisbane. Many years later, I began looking for another. My long search finally paid off. In Australia, they don’t come up too often. But eventually, this one did.
This kit came from Surfers Paradise, Queensland. I was attracted by the 8 & 10″ toms. Paid too much; shipping was a bomb. And they were orange, with the obligatory Pearl surgery.
Forget about the dreaded Pearl fittings; think instead about those lovely thin maple shells.
The Cleveland Era
To those who know Rogers drums, the period with the mojo is known as “the Cleveland era” This refers to the location of the factory. These drums were made in the early to mid 1960’s. I don’t believe there is a great deal of difference between the sound of these drums and the “Fullerton” or “9/72″ drums, which were made in California. There certainly is a difference in the hardware, as the Cleveland drums are much heavier. They also have flat grey interiors, as opposed to the granitone type finish of the later drums. I sold the white Fullertons (somewhat reluctantly) to buy a set from the classic period. These were purchased in the USA from a friend. I made the mistake of shipping and importing them myself – something I do not recommend. This set was built around a close serial Headliner set, with an added 14” floor tom. The condition of these drums is fantastic.
The Buddy Rich Headliner set:
These are Cleveland 3 ply; 1964/65. This series is considered to be the best of Rogers.
Later I added 8 and 10 inch toms, made from Keller Vintage Maple shells, from Aitwood in the USA.
Fullerton restoration #2
I spotted a set of stripped Rogers toms on eBay one day. They had been taken apart, but appeared to be complete with all parts. At this stage I was looking for a 12/13/16/22 kit in standard depths, for new gig with The Kites. I bought them very cheaply and so began Fullerton (or 9/72) restoration #2. By chance I found a rare 22″ bass drum which had also been stripped. I put a lot of time and funds into this kit and it turned out beautifully. Unfortunately, still not the sound I needed for the band. I reluctantly sold them. Fortunately they went within 10 minutes of listing, to a very enthusiastic buyer. Hope he’s playing them now!