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Time Capsule: 1984 Custom Tama Imperialstar

time capsule

In 1983, Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers were packing stadiums all over the world. Heartbreakers drummer Stan Lynch hooked up with Joe Hibbs, Tama artist relations manager at the time, to design his next drum set. They decided to create a set inspired by the Ludwig silver sparkle set that Mitch Mitchell played with The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Mitchell’s Ludwig set had one mounted tom and two floor toms. At Hibbs’ suggestion, they “floated” the two floor toms, mounting them on a double tom stand instead of traditional floor tom legs. Tama didn’t offer the silver sparkle finish at the time so the finish had to be special ordered. This would be the only silver sparkle Imperialstar set Tama ever made. Lynch liked a wide-open sound and the drums needed to be loud, so the stock Imperialstar internal mufflers that were standard at the time were left off.

The kit was built in what would now be considered “vintage” sizes: a 22" x 14" bass, one 13" x 9" mounted tom, and a pair of 14" x 14" and 16" x 16" suspended floor toms. He kept the whole classic vibe going with coated Remo ambassador heads all the way around. The front bass head was completely cut out. The snare is a steel-shell 14" x 5" Tama Kingbeat with a parallel throw-off. Lynch remembers the set as being really fun to play. “It was frisky. It was loud, explosive, and really tunable. Our sound guy loved them.”

time capsule

Lynch played this set in live performances with Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers between 1984 and 1986. It can be seen and heard on the band’s 1985 Pack Up The Plantation: Live concert video. In the summer of 1985, the band was invited to perform at Live Aid, an event to help raise funds to fight world hunger. This was the biggest musical event ever produced to date, taking place simultaneously on stages at Wembley Stadium in London, England, and JFK stadium in Philadelphia. Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers played at JFK in Philadelphia. Their performance was seen by a worldwide audience of an estimated 1.9 billion people. This is the set he played.

Lynch left the band in 1994 and went on to become an extremely successful songwriter and producer and continues to work with some of the biggest names in the music industry. The set was acquired directly from Lynch. He traded it for a 1960s Ludwig set like the one that originally inspired the creation of this set, way back in ’83.

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