...the Slingerland Drum Company. I saw some red and blue sparkle
toms neatly stacked waiting to be packed. Looking back, I can
say that while I didn't want to be a drummer at that moment, something
did click inside that peaked my interest.
In February of 1964, the country pulled out of
its funk with the help of the Beatles. When I first saw them I
was about to turn 13 and frankly, I didn't get it. I did realize
that getting into music might be a way to make money and help
my family, as dad was concerned about the finances. We lived in
a great neighborhood that was safe, clean and filled with hope
for the future. I didn't want to move because we couldn't afford
At first, I considered learning bass. I asked
around and when I heard that you had to read music, learn scales,
and make an effort, I felt that there had to be an easier way
to make a buck. I also figured that allot of people were going
to learn string instruments and it has always been my nature to
do and explore things others don't.
A few months later, I saw Dave Clark and right
there I knew drums were the way to go. I figure if all you had
to do was pound like a crazed monkey at feeding time and smile.
I could do that, although I am still working on the smiling part.
I immediately began my campaign for a red sparkle
Rogers set like DC. My dad suggested that I go to Slingerland
and get a catalog. So on a hot July afternoon, I walked the mile
and a half to 6633 N. Milwaukee for a catalog. A tall good-looking,
dark haired man came to the window and asked me what I wanted.
I was a shy kid and politely asked him for a catalog. I took some
lawn cutting money out of my pocket and offered to pay for it.
He smiled and said “No charge”. I walked out of there
on a real high. Not because of the fact that I was at Slingerland
but because the pearl vault was right outside the visitors lounge
and the toxic smells were better than any model car glue you could
buy. OK a Slingerland story moment.
A few years later, Danny Seraphine (drummer for
the band, Chicago) commented to the late Brad Morey, that he loved
coming to the factory because of the smells. Years later, whenever
we had a bad day going we say “Hey man I need 5 in the pearl
vault" and we'd start laughing. It became a standard inside
office joke as we knew the guy was really saying he was having
a rough day. It was a satirical crack. We were in music and musicians.
We were supposed to be hopped up on something. The truth be known,
we were boring guys anxious to get home to watch "All In
The Family" and maybe "Baretta". That's the way
it was at Slingerland. We always found something to laugh at.
Sometimes we were more like a bunch of gag writers than guys building
and selling drums. We had a ball everyday.
Anyway, I left the building and as I walked back
home on that hot summer day I opened the catalog and saw a picture
of Don Osborne, Sr. It was he that gave me my first drum catalog.
This was amazing to me... I had met my first real drummer and
celebrity. One evening, years later, I mentioned this to Don.
He turned red with embarrassment and laughed. Don was like a second
dad to me. He was a great person that I respected, admired and
loved. He helped so many people and was always there to teach
and share his knowledge. He was respected and known as a man of
his word in the industry. I told him all that one snowy night
over the phone. It was the last night I would ever talk with him.