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This is Roy at on a beautiful set of Pearl Drums in white pearl finish.

My Stories at the Pearl Drum Company

I was present at a Pearl management meeting in the early 80's when the marketing people were looking for a name for the new line of drums that were being introduced to replace the "Maxwin" brand. As these drums were to be made only for export I suggested that "Export" should be their name. The Japanese were totally against this idea as the philosophy in Japan was, only goods not up to the high standards required for the home market were exported and they thought that drums with that name would never sell. I told them that the word "Export" had a certain cachet in the U.K. arising from the immediate post-war years when British goods for the home market were in short supply and all the goods we could produce were being sold abroad to raise much needed foreign currency, dollars in particular. The production of these goods, (cars, trucks, buses, & Premier drums amongst much else) were of better quality than the production for our home marked. Consequently if you could manage to buy at home something that was destined for export you got something of high quality. The Japanese accepted my argument and the rest as they say is history!

As you may know in Japan, the letters for L and R are often confused. In 1981 I was at the Pearl plant in Tokyo where they proudly showed me many pairs of drumsticks in popular sizes designed for export to the U.S.A. Australia and the U.K. they were extremely pleased with the English printing on the sticks and boasted to me about the very good Amelican Hickoly they had used. They were so pleased that they had printed exactly that on each and every stick. With the aid of a dictionary I tactfully pointed out the small error that had just made their new line un-sellable in any English speaking country. Their reaction was very quick and a certain gentleman promptly left the company. I never found out what happened to the sticks! From then on until I left the company, in co-operation with my American counter-part Walt Johnson, we approved every single printed English word that was put on a label, catalogue or leaflet, thereby avoiding the Art Brakey model drumstick and we prevented the Pearl cymbals from bearing the name LIMPID a name the Japanese were particularly fond of because they had seen the definition of the word in the dictionary as meaning clear and they took that to describe the sound of the cymbals whereas we apply it to clear still pools.

Update March 3, 2008 - Roy sent a few more stories

Thanks for mentioning me on your site. Here's another story you might like.

In 1947 I was in a Royal Air Force band in Karachi (then it was India, now it is Pakistan) and I happened to see the famous 1946 picture of Louie Bellson with his new Gretch double bass drum kit with that big tom in the middle. Somewhere in the magazine someone had written that they were 20" bass drums, I approached the skilled metal workers in the aircraft repair shop to ask could they make a shell this size. They were used to fashioning all shapes of components for aircraft, so it presented them with no problems, as long as they could use the nutboxes and tension screws from another drum. We decided that the 20" shell should be made from 18 gauge aluminum. Somehow these numbers were transposed and I ended up with an 18" shell made of 20 gauge metal. Was this a first!!

Further to my time with Pearl, we set up an assembly facility at Park Royal in the U.K. in 1979 to build Birch, Maple and Fiberglass kits in custom sizes and finishes. The raw shells, covering material and metal components were all imported from Japan. In 1982 we moved the operation to Milton Keynes (50 miles from Park Royal) and our skilled drum assembler and coverer did not want to make the trip so the assembly operation was discontinued.

Best wishes,

Roy Holliday


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