GRETSCH DIAMOND SPARKLE ANNIVERSARY KIT
This special round Gretsch badge has a connection with the late Benny Goodman and Woody Herman drummer Sonny Igoe
Sonny Igoe was a well-regarded American drummer, with credits ranging from big and small jazz bands to studio and TV house bands. He also taught and wrote a really useful, logical book called GetYourFills
Together, unravelling the art of big band set-ups. Whoever nicked my copy (years ago), can I have it back? Sonny even inspired his son Tommy Igoe to become a superb big band leader and acclaimed educator too.
This month’s kit belongs to Garry Allcock who is always keen to preserve legendary, older drummer’s gear for posterity. Having said that, this is a made-up kit, and is a good illustration of how patience can reward the enthusiast who is willing to keep his/her eyes open over a period of years.
Garry tells the story: “I bought the basic kit in the late 1990s from a small music shop in Hinckley. It was just a 20" bass drum, 13"x9" tom and matching wooden snare, but no floor tom. I realised when I took the bass drum apart that it was not a Gretsch shell, although it had the matching wrap in 75th (1883-1958) Anniversary Diamond Sparkle. The small tom and snare drum were original.
“A couple of years later, when at the Chicago Drum Show helping Rob Cook set up, Doug and Dave Carrington came in with a load of ‘orphan’ drums for the Concessions Stall. And would you believe it, a matching
“After Sonny Igoe passed away his son Tommy cleared out his dad ’s st udio and sold off a lot of dr ums ” Owner, Garry Allcoc k
16"x16" floor tom appeared, which I straightaway bought for 200 bucks.
“After Sonny Igoe passed away his son Tommy cleared out his dad’s studio and sold off a lot of drums.Dave Jeans in Scotland bought a 22"x14" bass drum in Diamond Sparkle. He knew I had the matching set and he rang me to see ifI wanted another bass drum. He was also looking for Gretsch spare parts, so we did a swap, which suited us both perfectly. I then had a complete, matching (and genuine) four drums in Anniversary Diamond Sparkle: 22"x14" bass, 13"x9" tom, 16"x16" tom and 14"x5½" snare.” The snare is a Name Band model and the four drums together make up what was called the Name Band Outfit in Gretsch’s 1958/61 catalogues.
Dave Jeans also told Garry that: “The bass drum came directly from one of Sonny’s students who is an American professor now living in London. He said Sonny used this drum in his teaching basement. There were other matching toms and snare, but he only bought the bass drum. He said that Sonny had quite a few drums in this finish.I have no idea if Sonny played it out live, but it’s very possible.”
Garry concludes: “I had a new front head done for the bass drum to show the kit off, but really it is only the bass drum that has the Sonny Igoe connection.”