11 Drum Sets All Music Lovers Need to See
By: Victoria Shaffer
The Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum is a treasure trove of riches for any music lover. From guitars once owned and used by Tom Petty, Garth Brooks, and Johnny Cash, to an actual stage Jimi Hendrix performed on, there is no shortage of significant artifacts to admire. While the museum may honor all types of musicians and display an array of instruments, there is one particular field in which the MHOF&M especially thrives, and that’s with drums.
Below, in no particular order, is an outline detailing 11 of the most beloved, celebrated, and historic drum kits on permanent display at the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, Tennessee. Come see what you’ve heard!
Mitch Mitchell – 1967 Ludwig Drum Set
Best known for his time as the drummer in the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Mitch Mitchell used this iconic kit to record on Axis Bold as Love and the group’s final studio album, Electric Lady Land. These drums can be heard on “All Along the Watchtower” and “Crosstown Traffic.” They were also used live by Mitchell with the Jimi Hendrix Experience at the Miami Pop Festival and the Hollywood Bowl.
Roger Hawkins – Pearl Drum Set
Roger Hawkins, the heartbeat of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section (aka the Swampers), played on hits like “Mustang Sally” by Wilson Pickett, “Respect,” “Chain of Fools,” and “Think” by Aretha Franklin, “When a Man Loves a Woman” by Percy Sledge, “Old Time Rock and Roll” by Bob Seger, “I’ll Take You There” by the Staple Singers, and “Slip Away” by Clarence Carter. He used this specific drum set both live and in the studio.
Al Jackson Jr. – Ludwig Drum Set
Al Jackson, Jr. was a producer, songwriter, drummer, and founding member of the legendary Stax Records session group, Booker T. & the M.G.’s. As a session musician at Stax, Jackson recorded on most every song by Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Eddie Floyd, and Rufus Thomas. This drum set was used by Jackson on the hits, “Soul Man,” “Knock on Wood,” “In the Midnight Hour,” and “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay.” During recording sessions, Al would tape his wallet to the snare drum head to craft his iconic sound. Remnants of the tape remain on the drum to this very day.
Milton Sledge – Gretsch Drum Set
Milton Sledge is a member of Garth Brooks’ G-Men, a group of session musicians known to consistently back Brooks in the recording studio throughout his career. Sledge can also be heard on recordings by Barbara Mandrell, Randy Travis, Emmylou Harris, George Jones, Alabama, Trisha Yearwood, Vince Gill, and Toby Keith. He has played drums on over 30 number 1 hit singles and can be heard on albums that have sold over 180 million copies. Sledge used this Gretsch drum set on all of Garth Brooks’ recordings.
Gene Chrisman – Rogers Snare Drum
Though not quite a “drum set,” this significant snare drum was used by legendary member of the Memphis Boys, Gene Chrisman, at Memphis’ American Sound Studio. It was used by Chrisman on Elvis Presley’s “Suspicious Minds,” Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline,” B.J. Thomas’ “Hooked on a Felling,” and Dusty Springfield’s “Son of a Preacher Man.” You can see in the image that Gene even signed the drum, stating, “To Joe (Founder & CEO of the MHOF) and the Musicians Hall of Fame, this was a long time coming and it is great. Best to you always, Gene Chrisman “The Memphis Boys” ’07.”
J.I. Allison – 1958 Premier Drum Set
Jerry Allison is best known as drummer for Buddy Holly and the Crickets and co-writer of their innovative and influential hits, “That’ll Be the Day” and “Peggy Sue.” Allison purchased this drum kit in England in 1958 and played it with Buddy Holly, the Everly Brothers, and the Crickets. It can be heard on “Til I Kissed You” by the Everly Brothers.
Grand Ole Opry – Slingerland Drum Set
This iconic Slingerland drum set belonged to Opry staff drummer, Harold Weakly. For decades, drums were expressly forbidden on the Grand Ole Opry stage as they were thought to be untraditional and represent competing genres of popular music; rock and roll, blues, and jazz. Though drums were introduced to the Opry stage prior to the pictured kit, this Slingerland drum set was the first official complete set of drums sanctioned by the Grand Ole Opry.
Whilst on the topic of drums at the Grand Ole Opry, we couldn’t forget to mention this upright bass owned and used by pioneering Nashville session musician and Opry player, Lightnin’ Chance. Note the drum head mounted on the upper left shoulder of the bass. This percussive contraption was built by Chance and his brother and was the only drum allowed on the Grand Ole Opry for many years.
In addition to the Opry, Chance used this bass on countless hit records, including but not limited to all of the Everly Brothers’ hits, such as “Wake Up Little Susie” and “All I Have to Do is Dream.”
Michael Shrieve – 1967 Ludwig Drum Set
This 1967 Ludwig drum set was played by Santana drummer, Michael Shrieve, throughout their historic performance at Woodstock in 1969. In addition, Shrieve can be heard using this kit on the first two Santana albums, as well as on the hits, “Evil Ways,” ”Oye Como Va,” “Black Magic Woman,” “Jingo,” and “Samba Pa Ti.” Shrieve also played this iconic kit at Santana’s first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show and their performance at the Altamont Speedway Free Festival.
Kenny Buttrey – Drum Set
Kenny Buttrey began his professional career playing in night clubs when he was only 14 years old. He became one of the most in demand session drummers of the 60s, 70s, and 80s, recording with Elvis Presley, George Harrison, Bob Seger, Bob Dylan, Jimmy Buffet, and Neil Young. Buttrey used this drum set on Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold” and Bob Dylan’s “Lay Lady Lay.”
Uriel Jones – Gretsch Drum Set
In 1964, Uriel Jones became a member of the legendary Motown session group, the Funk Brothers. According to arranger Paul Riser, Jones was the “funkiest” of the three Motown drummers. He can be heard playing on “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “I Heard it Through the Grapevine,” and “Ain’t too Proud to Beg.” Uriel played this kit on several Motown hits, including “Reach Out” by the Four Tops and “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” by Stevie Wonder.
Hal Blaine – Ludwig Drum Set
Hal Blaine played on over 150 hit records and at least 40 number 1 hit singles throughout his career. As a member of LA’s legendary session troupe, the Wrecking Crew, Blaine used this drum kit in the studio with the Beach Boys, the 5th Dimension, Frank Sinatra, the Mamas & the Papas, the Byrds, the Carpenters, the Monkees, America, the Righteous Brothers, and the Ronettes, to name a select few.