Premier Drums

Premier drums are made by the by the British Premier Drums Company. The Premier company was started in 1922 by Albret Della-Porta, who was 20 years old at the time. Della-Porta was a London drummer who had played on Boyle drums. And after Charlie Boyle, the owner of the Bolye drum company, was killed in a bar brawl, an event which also finished the Boyle company, Albert Della-Porta teamed up with the Bolye drums production manager, George Smith. Della-Porta had ideas on improving the Boyle drums he had played on, and with Smith’s help started manufacturing drums from a rented basement in central London. In 1924, upon moving out of the basement to a more spacious location, Albert’s younger brother, Fred, joined the company to become a sales director.

Premier started manufacturing drums under it’s own label in 1925, and during the next few years moved to larger locations in London and opened a showroom in Golden Square, which is in central London. Today, Foote’s music store occupies this location in Golden Square, and still serves as a showcase for premier drums. During the early 1930s, Premier was already a major manufacturer of drum consoles (early forms of drum sets), and was exporting them to the United States.

In World War II, Premier was involved with manufacturing anti-tank gun sites and consequently was able to greatly improve the accuracy of its manufacturing processes. In 1940, Premier’s factory at Park Royal in western London was destroyed by an air raid, and Premier was relocated to Wigston, a town in central England. Following World War II, Premier returned to making drums, regaining its leadership in the English drum market.

After acquiring new die-casting equipment, following the war, Premier became known for some of its high quality die-cast components. Particularly noteworthy are Premier’s sturdy stands, die-cast rims, and chrome-plated, flush-braced lugs.

In 1958, Premier introduced its own brand of synthetic drum-heads (being beaten to the punch by a few months by Remo), and also had its own lines of cymbals. Premier no longer manufactures cymbals, but still makes high quality heads.

By the end of the 1960s Premier drums had come to dominate the domestic British market, and were being exported to over 100 countries. Premier’s Royal Ace snare drum was also used at some point by nearly every British drummer. As most British drummers, Ringo Starr also played Premier drums when he first appeared with the Beatles, before switching to Ludwig in 1964.

Following the success of the Beatles and the "British Invasion", British rockers turned from local musicians into international starts, and the drummers were switching to the sought after but previously too costly American kits. But the popularization of British culture also increased world demand for all things British, and therefore Premier sales continued to be strong.

During the 1970s and 1980s, like its American counterparts, Premier was hard hit by Japanese competition. In 1983, Premier’s board of directors resigned, and the company struggled until it merged with Yamaha in 1987. Yamaha helped invigorate Premier with investment and modernization, and in 1992 Premier became an independent company once more.

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