in Chicago, Illinois, United States
|Founder||William F. & Theobald Ludwig|
|Headquarters||North Carolina, United States|
|Products||Drum kits, timpani, percussion|
The Ludwig Drum Company was established in 1909 by William F. & Theobald Ludwig, sons of a German immigrant to the United States. William Jr. had been a professional drummer, playing with circuses and touring vaudeville shows, along with the occasional skating-rink gig. Since this work was irregular, he and his brother, Theobald, opened a drum shop in Chicago; they called it Ludwig & Ludwig. The company started with a concept for the design and manufacture of a functional bass drum pedal.
The company added new products to its catalog, such as snare drums and timpani in 1916. In 1917, Ludwig signed a deal to build rope drums to support World War I. Theobald Ludwig died in 1918 and William continued on his own. By 1923, the factory was the largest drum manufacturer in the world, employing 240 workers. In the late 20's, the company was sold to the C.G. Conn instrument company. William Ludwig stayed on to run the company for Conn (which also owned the Leedy Drum Co. at this time). Eventually, William Ludwig decided to leave Conn and start a new company of his own. He was unable to use the Ludwig name since that trademark now belonged to Conn who continued to market Ludwig & Ludwig drums.
In 1937, William bought a factory building and started The WFL Drum Company (his initials). The company continued producing drums at a small scale for the duration of World War II but after the armistice William got back to the idea of making the company a large drum manufacturer. WFL was a competitor with Ludwig and Ludwig. Conn combined their two drum brands into one in the early 50's forming Leedy & Ludwig and then decided to quit the drum business altogether. In 1955, William and his son Bill Jr. were able to buy the Ludwig trademark back from Conn and over the next few years their company and its products transitioned from the WFL brand to being called "Ludwig" again.
Despite success, Ludwig's breakthrough would occur February 9, 1964, when The Beatles made their debut on The Ed Sullivan Show, and the Ludwig logo, displayed on the front of Ringo Starr's bass drum, could be seen by the television audience of about seventy-three million people. As it happens, Starr chose that brand upon joining the band simply because he liked the oyster pearl black color of the drum kit he chose. Regardless, the publicity resulted in Ludwig's sales doubling quickly to $13 million, which prompted production to increase to a 24/7 production as the company became the foremost drum manufacturer in North America for twenty years.
On November 4, 1981, William F. Ludwig II sold the business to the Selmer Company (now Conn-Selmer). Selmer closed the Damen Avenue factory in the ensuing years and moved the drum production business to Monroe, North Carolina in 1984. The Musser manufacturing facility remained in LaGrange, Illinois until 2013, and was then moved to Elkhart, Indiana.
- Jerry Allison (Buddy Holly & The Crickets)
- Carmine Appice
- Mick Avory (Kinks)
- Ginger Baker
- Derek Ballard (A Band Called O)
- Barriemore Barlow (Jethro Tull)
- Fred Below
- Hal Blaine
- Jason Bonham
- John Bonham (Led Zeppelin)
- Cindy Blackman (Lenny Kravitz)
- Bill Bruford (Yes, King Crimson, Genesis, Earthworks)
- Tony Buck
- Clive Bunker (Jethro Tull)
- Larry Bunker (jazz and studio legend)
- Eric Carr (KISS)
- Nameless Ghoul (Ghost (Swedish band))
- Luis Cardenas (Renegade)
- Karen Carpenter
- Vinnie Colaiuta
- John Cowsill (Cowsills) (Beach Boys)
- Dino Danelli (Young Rascals)
- John Densmore (The Doors)
- Bobby Elliott (The Hollies)
- Gregg Errico (Sly & The Family Stone)
- Mick Fleetwood (Fleetwood Mac)
- Roy Haynes
- Papa Jo Jones
- Kenney Jones (Small Faces / Faces)
- Brian Keenan (Chambers Brothers)
- Bill Kreutzman
- Eric Kretz (Stone Temple Pilots)
- Nick Mason (Pink Floyd)
- Jim McCarty (Yardbirds)
- Mitch Mitchell (The Jimi Hendrix Experience)
- Joe Morello
- Steve Negus (Saga)
- Ian Paice (Deep Purple)
- Carl Palmer
- Questlove (The Roots)
- Marky Ramone
- Buddy Rich
- Ed Shaughnessy
- Mike "Smitty" Smith (Paul Revere & The Raiders)
- Ringo Starr (The Beatles)
- Roger Taylor (Queen) (1973 - 1985)
- Mick Tucker (Sweet)
- Alex Van Halen (Van Halen)
- Bill Ward (Black Sabbath)
- Charlie Watts (Rolling Stones)
- Alan White (Yes) (Plastic Ono Band)
- Meg White (The White Stripes)
- Nicko McBrain (Iron Maiden)
Drum set used by Alex Van Halen.
- "The 1960's" at Vintage Ludwig Drums
- "The Story Behind Ringo's Drums" by Charlie West
- "Ludwig". Our Brands. Conn-Selmer, Inc. Retrieved 2015-12-21.
- "The origins of Ludwig drums" on The Chicago Reader
- Ludwig on Conn-Selmer website
- "The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964" on Ed Sullivan website
- "The Beatles’ first Ed Sullivan Show" on The Beatles Bible
- O'Reilly, Terry. "Bookmarks 2016". Under the Influence. CBC News. Retrieved 27 August 2016.
- Selmer's History, 7 Dec 2011
- "Musser". Our Brands. Conn-Selmer, Inc. Retrieved 2015-12-21.
- Artists on Ludwig website
- "A Century of the most famous names" on Ludwig website
- "Carmine Appice, an exclusive interview", Glide Magazine, 8 Jul 2013
- Drum set up on John Bonham website
- "10 Ways To Sound Like John Bonham" by John Natellion Drum Magazine, Nov 2008
- "Bill Bruford". www.billbruford.com. Retrieved 2017-02-10.
- Official site
- NAMM Oral History Interview with William F. Ludwig II July 9, 2002
- NAMM Oral History Interview with William F. Ludwig III January 16, 2009
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