A key element to rock history is the theatrics and pageantry of legendary bands. From iconic looks to show-stopping performances, rock music history is not complete without the vision behind the visuals. One often overlooked element to rock bands are the bass drum head covers of iconic drummers.
The drum set is often the focal point of the rock band set-up. Snares, cymbals, tom toms, and bass drums are arranged in an intentional format to produce some of the best music. It is essential that the centerpiece of the setup is both eye catching and memorable. Many rock bands have become instantly recognizable based on the bass drum head covers. As rock history aficionados, the team at the Drum Center of Portsmouth dove into this topic to bring you a list of the most awesome bass drum head covers throughout rock history.
There is no denying The Beatles are one of rock’s most iconic bands. Ringo Starr is the standout drummer here. Taking the lead on songs like, “Strawberry Fields Forever,” and “Come Together,” Ringo Starr is the bass beat behind the band. Ringo made his home behind a Ludwig Oyster Black Pearl kit. This kit made an appearance on Thank Your Lucky Stars, a British television show, the same day Starr purchased it.
The kit went through a few iterations of the famous drop-T logo. The simple black lettering contrasted nicely to the white backdrop. The over sized drop-T quickly became the brand of the band. No kit for the band was complete without it. The iconic bass drum head cover completes the kit and is now shown in museums around the world, including the Grammy Museum in 2013.
The Rolling Stones
Another unforgettable band and bass drum head cover from rock history comes from The Rolling Stones. Since 1964, the British band has grown to global renown. Talented drummer Charlie Watts often takes to the stage with a Gretsch drum kit. While some drum head covers had a simple band name, the best known one premiered in 1971 as the now-iconic tongue logo.
The official title is “Tongue and Lips,” but is often just called, “The Rolling Stones’ tongue.” As a logo, it is a bold move for a band. There is no lettering or indication of band ownership. This did not stop the band from creating a drum head cover that continues to make statements today. It is so iconic it has become a fashion statement and is often featured on clothing, accessories, and other fashion statements.
Anything covering rock history is not complete without attention being given to Queen. With a career spanning decades, Roger Taylor has a lot to offer to this list. While Freddie Mercury is often the first thought when it comes to Queen, Taylor’s drum set is the centerpiece to every Queen setup.
Roger Taylor often opted for a larger set, which allows for a larger drum head cover and a more intricate design. The larger drums matched the big sound Queen often produces. Just like The Rolling Stones, Taylor has some drum head designs that are more simplistic in nature. However, the most memorable covers is the one featuring an intricate royal insignia. The insignia incorporates the zodiac signs of all four members. There are two lions for John Deacon and Roger Taylor, the resident Leos. A crab represents member Brian May as a Cancer. Finally, two fairies signify Virgo Freddie Mercury. All are intertwined around the letter “Q” and a crown. It closely resembles the United Kingdom’s Coat of Arms.
When it comes to visuals, few rock bands match the pageantry of Kiss. From the makeup to the boots, Kiss is hard to forget. The emblazoned band name across the bass drum is also hard to forget. For drummer Peter Criss, the Kiss drum head cover quickly became a staple for the band. It served as a visual focal point on stage in the midst of other visual effects. Peter Criss started playing on Pearl drums in 1975. The company was willing to endorse the band in the early days, thus earning continued loyalty throughout Criss’ career.
Just like The Rolling Stones, the imagery of the bass drum head cover became both a band symbol and fashion statement. For AC/DC, there is a science behind the name and logo design. The band name is an abbreviation for “alternating current/direct current” electricity. For the band, this captured the raw energy and electricity of their performances. This is also why there is a bolt of lightning between the two letters.
While the most common design is the red lettering, drummer Phil Rudd had other drum head covers in rotation. One of the standouts is the metallic blue AC/DC against an all-black kit. This sleek design provides an eye-catching focal point for the band.
Guns N’ Roses
For famous rock bands, Guns N’ Roses remains consistent and evolving. With some members rotating throughout the decades, the band’s brand had to be maintained. This was done through several drummers over the years. Each drummer brought a different type of bass drum head while remaining true to the band’s aesthetic. One of the best-known drum head covers is that of drummer Steven Adler. Adler brought an unforgettable design to the kit. It featured a skull in a top hat and the band’s name emblazoned on a banner. Behind the skull were two crossed guns and roses completed the design. While the band’s logo has changed, this skull design has remained rather consistent.
More to Come
While some might say the golden age of rock has past, the Drum Center of Portsmouth knows there is more yet to come. While the drum head covers remain standouts in history, it is exciting to know there is more to come. These legendary bands and designs will always remain iconic – but they will have more company.