By Carl Librizzi Published August 30, 2009
Carl Librizzi has been playing drums since 1968 , coincidentally the same year a band called Led Zeppelin first took flight. In the years since Carl has played and owned lots of drums but at some point he became fascinated with owning kits exactly like John Bonhams. Here's his story in his own words. [This story or portions of it appeared previously on Sickdrummermagazine.com and Classic Drummer Magazine.
"I always wanted an amber Vistalite kit in High School when they were first released around 1973, but could not afford one. About 3 years ago while on a Corvette forum, a guy posted a picture of his drum kit, I then posted my Octaplus and he responded by posting his Vistalite Octaplus! I never saw that kit before, so he gave me the url for Frank Pepitone's http://www.rcivistalite.com/showcase20.htm" />Vistalite Showcase. Once on that site I saw he had a 70’s Bonham kit in amber Vistalite, so I emailed him.
"He had 2 Bonham kits left; one he wanted to keep for himself and one was for sale, so I bought it. IO bought it sight unseen, but Frank assured me it was a 9.5 out of 10 in condition, so I purchased it and my collection had begun. I soon bought the rare 20" floor tom from Frank and then the 38" Paiste gong. That took almost a year, as they only come every three months by boat from Switzerland. Every time it came there was no Chinese lettering like Bonzo had on his, just the Paiste logo, so I sent it back. This happened 3 more times until Erik Paiste called Guitar Center asking why I kept returning it. Finally the gong came with the Paiste logo and the 2 Chinese letters.
"I wanted to duplicate Bonham's gear, so I found a model# 895 30" universal Timpani from Ed Banks at Falls Percussion. Ed unwillingly sold me the tympani, telling me it was one of only two he had seen in 35 years of renting Timpani's. He only sold it to me because I was bugging him on a regular basis.
"After acquiring the timpani, I saw a green sparkle 1974 Bonham kit on e-bay. It was recently re-finished and restored by Matt Sinyard of http://www.bonzodrums.com/" />The Bonzo Drum Company by one of the owners, so I bought it.
"I then got a email from a friend and fellow drum builder/restorer, John Brankin. John has made all the Bonham graphics on my bass drum heads and has been refinishing/building drum kits for years. He has a love of Slingerland drums, but also Ludwig, so John found a late 70's stainless kit on Craigslist. I went to see it and bought it, but compared to Frank Pepitone's amber kit of 9.5 condition, the beautiful green sparkle kits I bought in finished condition or near perfect shape, this stainless kit needed a 16" floor tom and looked like it went through WWIII. My friend and fellow drum restorer and drummerTom Meadows in Las Vegas found numerous stainless steel kits and helped me find a nice 16" floor tom from 1978.
Tom built a stainless OctaPlus to go along with his stainless steel Ronn Dunnett kit. Every time Tom gets a drum kit, he duplicates the same kit in OctaPlus, so I took the stainless bass drum and rack tom to a professional stainless worker who totally rebuffed the shells to a brand new condition. The shells do not have any scratches anymore! I re-finished the hoops and inlays from Precision Drum Company, and after cleaning chrome parts and replacing bad parts, adding new heads and graphics from John Brankin, I had a late 70’s Bonham kit.
Tom Meadows just found me a 3-ply maple Bonham kit from 1972, ordered from Ludwig back then as a Bonham kit, assembled by Ludwig with matching numbers (in order) from 1972 and build sheets inside the floor tom shells. I purchased it from Pete Rodtis who owns The Swan Drum Company. He did the bearing edges of the drums for me and restores and builds brand new, sought-after snare drums. I am currently cleaning this kit. Aside from that I have a Rodgers hi-hat for every kit, Paiste cymbals the same as Bonzo used and Ralph Kester ching rings with a Rodgers hi-hat clutch. So I duplicated John Bonham's kit almost exactly as he had them. Swan leg cymbal stands, flat leg Atlas stands from 1969 and the tubular Hercules stands for the stainless steel kit.
Thanks for reading the history of my Bonham collection!
[Ed Note: Carl tries to make these kits as 100 percent authentic as possible. Currently, he's looking for one piece in particular and would like the assistance of DRUM! readers in finding a model # 853 Ludwig 29" copper bowl mechanical (hand crank) tympani. If anyone has a line on one, please email Carl Librizzi.