I was born in 1970 and did not start playing drums until the early 80’s. For some reason I have always felt some kind of connection with history, and particularly history that revolves around cultural influence on society. It’s interesting to me to see how trends in pop culture can affect everything from cars to clothes to even, yes… musical instruments. The 1960s were one decade I have always found musically satisfying as the decade started with dreamy pop stars and ended with hard rock bands like Led Zeppelin. In between that you have The Beatles and all those that followed, the Motown scene, Folk Music, Cool Jazz and Latin influence, Psychedelic music and groups like the Doors that drew from many of the influences I just mentioned.
By the year 1967 music was changing at a rapid rate and the psychedelic trend was starting to usher in the summer of love as it was termed that year. The Ludwig drum company was riding an all time high after winning the lottery when one Ringo Starr played an Oyster Black Ludwig set in front of 73 million viewers on the Ed Sullivan show on Feb 9th 1964. Ludwig found themselves in the position of running three shifts a day 7 days a week to keep up with the demands. By 1967 production had become more stable and Ludwig was keeping current by adding new finishes and configurations to their products that reflected popular trends. The Beatles masterpiece, Sgt. Pepper, was released in May of 1967, The Doors first album was racing up the charts, Fresh Cream was released in 1966, and the wave of Psychedelia was in the air along with psychedelic drugs that people took to expand their minds.
Around June of 1967, Ludwig offered two new finishes released after the 1966 catalog was already printed created to capitalize on the Psychedelic movement that was happening. The two new colors were Psychedelic Red and Mod Orange and both new colors were reflective of the culture and the times as Mod Orange featured an Orange swirl with purple hi-lites while Psychedelic Red was a colorful mixture of red, green, dark blue-ish purple and standard blue. Swirled together they make a trippy looking effect that really stands out. While both new colors came out in June of 1967, the first noted ad from Ludwig appeared in the spring edition of the Ludwig drummer published in early 1968. While the psychedelic 60s only really lasted a few years at most, Ludwig kept the color psychedelic red as an available option right up through the 70s until about 1980. The color changed in look and pattern around the mid 70s, and the most common problem is that the original psych red finish tended to loose the green pigment when exposed to direct sunlight leaving the finish to look very washed out. Finding sets with strong green can be a real challenge and, for that reason, a set with lots of green will bring more money. The saying when it comes to psychedelic red is: Green=$Green.
The set in this article that I own is a special set for several reasons. It has a lot green present, it was made on Dec 12th 1968 (which still falls in the psychedelic years) and it is a catalog correct Rock Duo from the Ludwig catalog. Ludwig offered two factory catalog double bass sets; The Blue Note consisting of two 22" bass drums, 12,13,16,18 toms, matching jazzfest snare, canister throne and bongos. The Rock Duo is the smaller cousin featuring two 20” bass drums, 12,13,16 toms and a supraphonic 400 snare drum. Both sets feature bass drums that are not drilled for any mounts as the toms are mounted on a floor stand. All of the drums in this set are dated the same day, the serial numbers are all relatively close, the interiors are all clear, the set is in great shape and the configuration is not one that is seen all that often. Many sets like this have lost a bass drum over the years and it’s a shame as the Rock Duo was a really cool set to have. I even got the original speed king pedals in the original Ludwig boxes. Now that is a cool bonus! I can only imagine the kids in the neighborhood seeing this set and drooling over it. I love the look of the set as it harks back to an era just before I was born and it really captures a specific moment in time. I can just see these guys riding around in the back of a VW bus headed off to the next gig.