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An unrivalled History

 


Serving drummers worldwide since 1922, Premier has remained at the forefront of percussion design and development.

A long established company that is rich in history and tradition, Premier’s name has been associated with a wealth of star performers in many musical genres not only at home in England but all over the globe. From the monster set-ups of stadium filling rockers to the compact kits championed by the jazz community, Premier continues to deliver ‘must have’ instruments.

The vast experience and knowledge gained during this exhilarating journey has given us unrivalled expertise to craft our instruments to the highest standards.

Alongside a proud history within the worlds of marching and orchestral instruments, Premier drumsets have continued to break new ground and provide the very best for players at all levels. Many products and features have become household names in the drumming world and current research and development ensures that this legacy of innovation continues.

The growing list of leading drummers who endorse Premier not only proves the excellence of our drums on the world-wide stage, but also provides an invaluable source of ideas and inspiration.

Truly one of the most iconic names in music today, you’ll find that our sense of pride is infectious. We welcome the demands of today’s musicians and extend a warm welcome to members of our ever growing “family” of drummers.

 

1920s

At the height of the Jazz age, drum builder George Smith partners pro drummer Albert Della Porta in the launch of Premier, notably in the ‘Soho’ area of London, the heart of its vibrant live music scene. The Berwick Street factory moves quickly into production of drum kits and portable tuned instruments.

 

1930s  

Under the sales directorship of Fred Della Porta, Premier further develops its instrument ranges. A shift in the dynamic of entertainment with the one-time rebellious and underground Jazz scene now influencing musical theatre and recordings, the modern drum kit is fast growing in popularity. It’s the age of the ‘star’ and contemporary Premier catalogues proudly declare “Nine out of ten ‘ace’ drummers use a Premier outfit”. ‘Ace’ Drummers like George Fierstone, Max Abrams, Ray Ellington and Max Bacon an entertainer who’s tutor book ‘Max On Swing’ is still sought after today, are among the leading players at this time. The Console system, an early version of today’s drum racks is a popular Premier product seeing use in America with drummers like Chick Webb. Premier’s famous entry-level brand Olympic also features during the decade.

 

1940s

World War II sees Premier’s skills employed in the production of precision-engineered metalwork for the War Office who instigate a move to a new site in Leicester. The latter part of the decade was truly the era of the ‘Big-Band’ with popular music in the UK heavily influenced by the big stars from America.

 

1950s

Big Band and small group jazz and radio broadcasting are the kingpins of entertainment. Players like Ray Ellington, a band leader and radio celebrity, dominate the airwaves alongside Eric Delaney, Tony Kinsey, Tony Crombie and Norman Burns as the top drummers all proudly playing Premier. Set-ups evolved from the console or ‘trap’ sets to the smaller neater layouts much more familiar to today’s drummer. Great products like the 250 bass drum pedal, Zyn Cymbals and Everplay heads set Premier aside from its competitors. Many standard drumset features like tilting hi-hat cups and all chromed hardware that drummers take for granted today, were all Premier firsts.

 

1960s 

With a choice of set-ups and colours never before available, Premier tackled the challenges of meeting the needs of the “beat boom” drummers with a vengeance. The classic simplicity of the new kits graced many a stage and became the benchmark for quality. The neat 4 piece ‘54’ and ‘58’ were in wide demand with Bobby Elliot (Hollies) and the great Keith Moon (The Who) amongst the many leading drummers of the day using these world-beating drums. Early appearances by the Beatles see Ringo Starr playing a Mahogany Duroplastic set! Influential American drummers of the bebop era like Kenny Clarke, Art Blakey and Philly Joe Jones chose Premier. Sam Woodyard of the Duke Ellington Orchestra’s dramatic double bass drum set will become an influence on drummers for generations to come. The legendary 2000 snare drum was launched in 1966, the culmination of Premier parallel-action snare drum design dating back to the '30s. 1966 also saw Premier receive the Queens Award to Industry further illustrating the scale of production fueled by this exciting period.

 

1970s

The great Kenny Clare was the catalyst behind another radical Premier innovation with the Resonator “shell-within-a-shell” concept. These popular outfits suited many musical styles from jazz trio to stadium rock. In 1976, Premier opens a new purpose built factory in Leicester. ‘Punk Rock’ explodes on to the UK music scene and sends its shockwave around the world. A fierce nationalistic pride is key to the Punk movement and its leading drummers; Paul Cook (Sex Pistols), Rat Scabies (The Damned) and Rocky Rhythm (Revillos) all play the British-made Premier. As ‘Punk’ morphs into ‘New Wave’, new names like Clem Burke (Blondie), John Maher (Buzzcocks), Paul Thompson (Roxy Music), Rick Buckler (The Jam), Billy Docherty (The Undertones), join the more established drummers like Phil Collins, John Coghlan (Status Quo) and Richie Hayward (Little Feat) in Premier’s advertising. 

 

1980s

Elite, Resonator, Soundwave and Club provide endless options for drummers of every style. The new Trilok hardware range and innovative 252 pedal provides more robust and heavy duty options to meet the demands of the heavy rock drummers of the day, though Lokfast hardware remains ‘standard issue’ for most Jazz drummers. The Project One and Heavy Rock 9 snare drums and even the PowerPak electronic kit punctuated a decade that also saw Premier take the lead in the growing ‘value-priced’ market with the APK and XPK ranges establishing themselves as true marks of quality. As ever, drummers were the best company ambassadors, with the likes of Carl Palmer (Asia), Rod Morgenstein (Dixie Dregs/Winger), Charlie Morgan (Elton John), Harvey Mason (Session Great) and John Keeble (Spandau Ballet) joining the roster.

 

1990s

Premier introduces two hugely successful ranges with Signia and Genista. Premier’s 75th anniversary in 1997 was marked in style by a special commemorative set from each. Again the drummers speak volumes Nicko McBrain (Iron Maiden), Brad Wilks (Rage Against The Machine), Philip Selway (Radiohead) to name but a few.

 

2000s

Along with Artist Series, Cabria Series and Modern Classic, it’s the decade of Premier Series with its numerous specification options and proven performance. These amazing drums are the preferred choice of many contemporary drummers and continues to be a success to this day becoming the first choice for Donavan Hepburn (Take That), Chris Sharrock (Oasis) and Steve Barney (Annie Lennox and Anastacia).