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The Evolution Of The Drum Head (1968-1984)

Cygnus X1

Enthusiast
While Doing some research, I noticed the amount of times the drum heads changed between 1968 and 2015. I thought I would showcase the different variations of the heads.

SECTION 1: THE RUTSEY ERA (1968-1974)

1. (1968? -1970)
The earliest photos of the band date back to the early 70s, and the Rutsey Era (Pre-Debut Album) features the kit with plain white drum heads. These were most likely the original heads for the kit.
1703861888105.png
Circa. 1970

2. (1973) (Ver. 1)
1973 would be the first time the "RUSH" name would be featured on the kit. The head showcases the name printed diagonally with red streaks across the top and bottom of the lettering. Another version
of the heads would be used during their time at the Gasworks in October 1973

1703862993364.png
Hamilton, Ontario
Circa. October 12, 1973

3. 1973 (Ver. 2)
Another known version of the 1973 heads can be seen in photos from The Gasworks in October 1973. Although at first, they seem similar, the main difference is that the "RUSH" text is bolder and appears to be hand-painted, rather than printed.
1703862300541.png1703862351682.png1703862387009.png

Photos From The Gasworks
Circa. October, 1973

4. (Early 1974)
Shortly after the release of the debut album "RUSH". The heads were changed once again. This time they would showcase the album cover font on a plain white background. The heads can be seen in the Spring of 1974 footage at Laura Secord Secondary School.
1703862679509.png
Spring 1974 Footage
Circa. Early 1974

SECTION 2: THE SLINGERLAND YEARS (1974-1979)
John Rutsey would leave the band in July of 1974 due to a combination of reasons. With a US tour on the way, Geddy and Alex would host auditions for a new drummer. As we all know Neil would be selected and join the band in July 1974. Only a week after joining the band, Neil would purchase a Slingerland Kit with 22-inch bass drums.

1. (August 1974)
For a short period, Neil's kit would consist of plain black drum heads. These would only last a few weeks.

1703863798354.png
During the first weeks of Neil being in the band
Circa. August 1974

2. (Late August, 1974-December, 1975)
These are the first "RUSH" heads to grace Neil's kit. The heads included "RUSH" in the debut album font. This time they are being silver. These would last through the Rush Tour till late into the Caress Of Steel tour in 1975. The first album Rush logo drum heads were used through the end of 1975

1703864142108.png1703864019706.png 1703864229169.png
Early pictures of the heads featuring the RUSH name The heads as seen today
September 25, 1974, and January 29th, 1975

3. (January, 1976-April 1977)
The change in January 1976 came during the end of the Caress of Steel tour, and the new heads -- perhaps first used at the Massey Hall show on January 10 -- had Rush in the Caress of Steel LP font, as well as Neil on the right head (from the drummer's perspective), and Peart on the left head. The Caress font drum heads were used on the latter end of the Caress tour, for the entire 2112 tour, and through most of the ATWAS tour An exception to the use of the Caress font drum heads appears to be the Massey Hall June 1976 shots where there is no outward-facing drum head on the bass drums, to facilitate the recording for the live album "All The World's A Stage".

1703864671556.png 1703864800007.png
The heads before being spray-painted The drums after being spray-painted
Circa. January 10th, 1976 Circa. February 15th, 1977

4. (Sometime In 1977)
Another Slingerland kit was used for the end of the ATWAS tour in 1977 and would be used in AFTK and Hemispheres. When they were bought, the drums would have solid black heads

1703865088806.png
Circa. 1977

5. (1977-1979) and (1980-1984)
Starting in May 1977, while still on ATWAS tour the drum heads were changed to the black Star Man logo. This logo was of course taken from the cover and inner sleeve of 2112. But it was also very clearly represented on the inner sleeve of AFTK. A plain black sleeve, unadorned other than that logo smack dab in the middle in stark color relief. The drum heads perhaps were a step towards that inner sleeve decision-making as the band embraced the Starman as a clear icon for the band. Also interesting to think that the drum head change came at the same time as a significant stage equipment change with Geddy adding keyboards to the stage in May 1977. The blackheads persisted from May 1977 through June 1979 (end of the proper Hemispheres tour). The reddish tint drum heads (which in some light looks black) persisted from September 1979 through the GUP warm-up shows at Radio City Music Hall in September 1983.

1703865521351.png 1703865593810.png

From this point onwards every kit would have different heads for each tour. The star man heads would be brought back for the second set of the R40 tour in 2015. I could go on about the heads for each tour but it would take a LONG time.

Credit To
www.cygnus-x1.net for some of the photos and information and rocky chains for collecting other information.

 

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Interesting - thanks for putting this together.
No problem. I don't know EVERY little thing about the history of them. The idea came up when I and another forum member started discussing the 2 versions of the 1973 heads. This is just the first few years worth of them. After that Neil had heads for every tour so it would be changing every year
 
Thanks this is great fun to read and research. I did some poking around and would add these points for some additional detail.

- The first album Rush logo drum heads were used through the end of 1975. The change in January 1976 came during the end of the Caress of Steel tour, and the new heads -- perhaps first used at the Massey Hall show on January 10 -- had Rush in the Caress of Steel LP font, as well as Neil on the right head (from the drummer's perspective), and Peart on the left head. Here are pictures from Dec 1975 demonstrating that: https://www.cygnus-x1.net/links/rush/concert-south-bend-in-12.07.1975.php

- The Caress font drum heads were used on the latter end of the Caress tour, for the entire 2112 tour, and through most of the ATWAS tour - until around the time they added Xanadu to the set! There is clear evidence in some Feb 1977 shots from Tennessee, and there is additional (murky) evidence in a picture from the Washington DC show in April 1977 showing the Caress font drum heads: https://www.cygnus-x1.net/links/rush/concert-chattanooga-02.15.1977.php

- An exception to the use of the Caress font drum heads appears to be the Massey Hall June 1976 shots where there is no outward facing drum head on the bass drums, perhaps to facilitate the recording for the live album. Scroll to the middle of this set for evidence: https://www.cygnus-x1.net/links/rush/concert-toronto-06.11.1976.php

- Starting in May 1977, while still on ATWAS tour the drum heads were changed to the black Starman logo: https://www.cygnus-x1.net/links/rush/concert-wausau-wi-05.09.1977.php
Note that this logo was of course taken from the cover and inner sleeve of 2112. But it was also very clearly and plainly represented on the inner sleeve of AFTK lp, issued in Sept 1977 -- a plain black sleeve, unadorned other than that logo smack dab in the middle in stark color relief. The drum heads perhaps were a step towards that inner sleeve decision-making as the band embraced the Starman as a clear icon for the band. Also interesting to think that the drum head change came at the same time of a significant stage equipment change with Geddy adding keyboards to the stage in May 1977.

- The black heads with Starman persisted from May 1977 through June 1979 (end of the proper Hemispheres tour).

- There seems to be a transition period as the pre-Permanent Waves tour began. A shot from Comiskey Park in August shows simple black drum heads:
https://www.cygnus-x1.net/links/rush/images/concerts/rush-chicago-08.19.1979/31.jpg And there is another August shot that is hard to discern that seems to show a plain black drum head. But by early September the new reddish tint drum heads with Starman logo made their appearance.

- The reddish tint drum heads (which in some light looks black) persisted from September 1979 through the GUP warm up shows at Radio City Music Hall in September 1983.

- Beginning with the proper GUP tour in May 1984, the album tour artwork drum head era began.
 
Thanks this is great fun to read and research. I did some poking around and would add these points for some additional detail.

- The first album Rush logo drum heads were used through the end of 1975. The change in January 1976 came during the end of the Caress of Steel tour, and the new heads -- perhaps first used at the Massey Hall show on January 10 -- had Rush in the Caress of Steel LP font, as well as Neil on the right head (from the drummer's perspective), and Peart on the left head. Here are pictures from Dec 1975 demonstrating that: https://www.cygnus-x1.net/links/rush/concert-south-bend-in-12.07.1975.php

- The Caress font drum heads were used on the latter end of the Caress tour, for the entire 2112 tour, and through most of the ATWAS tour - until around the time they added Xanadu to the set! There is clear evidence in some Feb 1977 shots from Tennessee, and there is additional (murky) evidence in a picture from the Washington DC show in April 1977 showing the Caress font drum heads: https://www.cygnus-x1.net/links/rush/concert-chattanooga-02.15.1977.php

- An exception to the use of the Caress font drum heads appears to be the Massey Hall June 1976 shots where there is no outward facing drum head on the bass drums, perhaps to facilitate the recording for the live album. Scroll to the middle of this set for evidence: https://www.cygnus-x1.net/links/rush/concert-toronto-06.11.1976.php

- Starting in May 1977, while still on ATWAS tour the drum heads were changed to the black Starman logo: https://www.cygnus-x1.net/links/rush/concert-wausau-wi-05.09.1977.php
Note that this logo was of course taken from the cover and inner sleeve of 2112. But it was also very clearly and plainly represented on the inner sleeve of AFTK lp, issued in Sept 1977 -- a plain black sleeve, unadorned other than that logo smack dab in the middle in stark color relief. The drum heads perhaps were a step towards that inner sleeve decision-making as the band embraced the Starman as a clear icon for the band. Also interesting to think that the drum head change came at the same time of a significant stage equipment change with Geddy adding keyboards to the stage in May 1977.

- The black heads with Starman persisted from May 1977 through June 1979 (end of the proper Hemispheres tour).

- There seems to be a transition period as the pre-Permanent Waves tour began. A shot from Comiskey Park in August shows simple black drum heads:
https://www.cygnus-x1.net/links/rush/images/concerts/rush-chicago-08.19.1979/31.jpg And there is another August shot that is hard to discern that seems to show a plain black drum head. But by early September the new reddish tint drum heads with Starman logo made their appearance.

- The reddish tint drum heads (which in some light looks black) persisted from September 1979 through the GUP warm up shows at Radio City Music Hall in September 1983.

- Beginning with the proper GUP tour in May 1984, the album tour artwork drum head era began.
Thank you kindly for the extra information. As I said at the beginning of the post, I am always open to new information. This idea originally started as a little photo collage. I thought of then adding a bit of info. I wasn't able to find a lot of this information before and glad you did. I will credit you for the information
 
No credit to me really -- all credit to whoever runs Cygnus-X1 site (an amazing resource) and to you for putting together that bigger-than-little photo collage! I love reading and thinking about this stuff.
 
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