Preston Ritter started practicing drums at age 13. A year later he got a Ludwig Super Classic set, and a year after that he was playing professionally. By 17 he was drumming for a band that is still a psychedelic icon: The Electric Prunes. Growing up in L.A., Ritter crossed paths with many stars. He took lessons from foot-control master Colin Bailey, became good friends with Louie Bellson, and had one-on-one sessions with Buddy Rich.
He joined The Prunes after an audition with producer Dave Hassinger (Rolling Stones, “Satisfaction”). Hit singles like “I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)" and “Get Me To The World On Time” followed. The Prunes were a crack live outfit and toured heavily with the likes of Cream, Hendrix, and The Beach Boys. I Had Too Much To Dream and Underground are considered the “real” Prunes recordings, and are the only two to feature Ritter on drums. Back in 1966, primitive live sound systems were no match for screaming fans. Groups played stadiums with no drum mikes. “My hands would literally bleed from having to play so hard,” Ritter recalls.
Despite the fame, Ritter was dissatisfied musically. Raised on jazz and craving syncopation, he felt restricted by the simple beats producers wanted. By 1967 he left the group and for the next few years played in bands for artists such as Neil Diamond, James Brown, and Linda Ronstadt.
Due to ferociously bad management decisions, Ritter and the band never saw any real money from their efforts. By 1969 the entire band was replaced with new members. Ritter still plays to this day, but has been challenged by two kidney transplants in recent decades.