Kenny Aronoff was a virtually unknown drummer when he joined John Mellencamp’s band in 1980 (back when the singer was known as John Cougar). At this time he also began a relationship with the Tama Drum Company that continues to this day. For 17 years, Aronoff propelled Mellencamp’s band to become one of the biggest touring and recording acts of the era while simultaneously establishing himself as one of the most solid, powerful, and dependable drummers anywhere.
This Tama Artstar ll drum set is the last touring set Aronoff ever played as a member of Mellencamp’s band. It was used mainly on tour in 1994 and 1995. Mellencamp had become very interested in painting at the time and decorated the stage with an array of paintings by famous artists. He chose the Modigliani nude (seen in the photo) for Aronoff’s bass drum – an appropriate choice for the 1994 “Dance Naked” tour. Aronoff preferred the sound of an open bass drum, so the image was printed on thin canvas and stretched over a cut-out drumhead hoop. The set can also be seen on Mellencamp’s 1995 Human Wheels TV special. The 24", 12", 10", 14", 16" set features all-maple shells finished in a clear maroon lacquer. It also includes an additional 22" bass and a matching 14" x 6.5" snare. These two drums were used as back-ups at live shows and as alternative sounds in the studio.
The set was acquired directly from Aronoff in 1997. He’s used it several times since then for clinics and one-off performances in the Seattle area. It is currently on display at Donn Bennett Drum Studio.
This set marks a pivotal transition in Aronoff’s career. The end of the gig that established him in the music industry and the beginning of his legendary run as a one of the world’s foremost session and touring drummers.