Premier Percussion

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Premier Music International Ltd
Industry Musical instruments
Founded 1922; 93 years ago (1922)
Founder Albert Della Porta and George Smith
Headquarters Kibworth, Leicestershire, England
Area served
Products Drum kits
percussion instruments

Premier Music International Limited is a UK manufacturer of drum kits and percussion instruments.


The company was founded in 1922 as the Premier Drum Company by London drummer Albert Della Porta and drum builder George Smith in Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire, England . At first, the company produced drum kits for wholesalers, who then would sell them as their own, but Premier soon began producing drums under its own name.

Premier also began producing symphonic percussion, marching percussion, and cymbals in addition to drum kits. Premier was originally located in central London (where the current Footes Music Store is now) and moved to purpose built premises in Acton in the 1930s. When World War II (1939-1945) broke out, Premier was engaged in the manufacture of gun sights for tanks and aircraft, but the factory was bombed out in 1940 and the company was relocated to a new Leicester facility shortly thereafter.

The company enjoyed great success during the Beat Boom of the 1960s not only in the UK, but worldwide, and won the Queen's Award to Industry in 1966. During the 1970s, Premier invested heavily in a new, purpose built factory to meet demand for their products, but in 1983, the Della-Porta family resigned from the board and the company's name was changed to Premier Percussion in 1984 following a management buyout.

In October 1987, Premier was merged with Yamaha, which owned the Leicester factory until 1992. During this period, Limited was appended to the company name. In 1992, Tony Doughty, who originally arranged the Yamaha merger, took over the company. In February 1995, Premier was sold to the Verity Group of Companies before yet another buyout by a British consortium a few years later. This buy-out went into Administration in 2006 before being bought back by the same management team, and again in 2009. Today, Premier, under the new ownership of British Industrialist Ken Tonkin, continues to produce drum kits, marching percussion, and symphonic percussion (including timpani and mallet percussion).

In the 2000s, Premier started making drums in Taiwan under the Artists maple and birch series. The Premier series, maple, birch or hydbrid/ gen-x shells were made in England until 2007. The hardware is made on the same assembly line in Taiwan as Tama's.

As of 2012, Premier began moving the production of its higher end products back to the UK. Premier's flagship kits are now designed and manufactured in England by master craftsman Keith Keough. An interview with Keith appears in Issue Four of The Drummer's Journal. [1]

Noteworthy drums[edit]

- Premier 2000 Snare - All drums made of African Mahogany at 70:s - Resonator Series - Signia and Genista Series - APK/XPK - Olympic Series - Artist Series - Premier Series Elite (Maple/Birch/Gen-X Hybrid) - Gordon Mann 1 Wing Pipes and Drums

Early Premier drums were mostly made of 3-ply birch, with reinforcing hoops as was common with most drums from that period.

In the 1960s Ludwig, Rogers and Slingerland were being sold in greater number than Premier drums. This decrease in popularity, despite Premier's equal quality, was only temporary and Premier continues to produce quality drums today.

For some years during the mid-1970s, Premier began using African Mahogany in their drum construction. Premier drums from that period were mostly made of three-ply mahogany with beech wood reinforcing hoops (or glue rings.). True mahogany from Khaya Nyasica, Africa have an approximately 20% increase in low frequency resonance over the maple drums. Mid and high frequencies are mostly the same from a reproduction point of view, but because the Mahogany has the 20% low end increase, the perceived tone is warmer.

Vintage Premier drum kits are somewhat rare nowadays and are considered by most experienced drummers as high quality drums. Premier's modern upper-range drum kits are made of birch or maple, both of which are excellent drum-making materials.

Drum lines[edit]

Olympic starter kits in either stage or rock sizes

Performance Series APK available in 4 lacquer finishes

Performance Series XPK with 3 mm undersize shells

Heritage Series available in Jazz and Club Kit configurations

Genista Series available in birch or maple shells

Signia Series available in thin Maple Shells with reinforcing rings.

Signia Marquis available in Maple Shells (no reinforcing rings)

Premier Series the company's flagship kits




During an appearance on the Smothers Brothers television show in 1967, Keith Moon over-loaded his Premier bass drum with explosive charges, which were detonated during the finale of "My Generation", which according to legend resulted in permanent hearing damage for bandmate Pete Townshend and caused Bette Davis to faint.

Led Zeppelin's John Bonham received his first drum kit at the age of 15, an old rusty Premier set.

Early photos of The Beatles' first recording sessions at E.M.I. Abbey Road Studios show Ringo Starr playing his original Premier kit.

See also[edit]

  • Multivox Premier, a manufacturer of guitars, musical instrument amplifiers, and Hi-Fi amplifiers using the Premier brand name.



  1. ^ Hoare, Tom. “This “Is Not A Wrap: Keith Keough and Premier Percussion, The Drummer’s Journal’’, New York, 27 October 2013. Retrieved on 27 October 2013.

External links[edit]