On Reverb: The Vanilla Fudge Kit That Inspired John Bonham

Last month, a Reverb user listed a 1960s–era kit that was owned by Carmine Appice, the drummer from supergroup Vanilla Fudge. But this isn’t just a kit with a famous previous owner. It was the exact kit that inspired John Bonham to get one of his own.

On December 26, 1968, Led Zeppelin made their American debut at a sold out show in Denver. They were one of three groups that performed that night, preceding Spirit and label mate Vanilla Fudge. Their performance was such a smash that the Denver rock radio station played their then unreleased debut album non–stop the following day.

However, Led Zeppelin was almost denied a spot on the bill. It took a lot of persuasion from Vanilla Fudge’s booking agent, Ron Terry, along with Vanilla Fudge themselves offering to give part of their payment for the show to the unknown British band.

Carmine Appice's Late '60s Ludwig Drum Kit

This began a long friendship and mentorship between the two bands, with Vanilla Fudge often giving the younger band advice about their stage presence and gear. Fudge drummer Carmine Appice even helped John Bonham snag the endorsement deal with Ludwig that led Bonham to getting his own copy of the kit Carmine used on this tour — the same kit featured in this listing.

This kit originally featured twin 14x26” bass drums, which were most likely swapped by Carmine for the 24” drums listed, as he preferred the smaller size. The 1960s Thermogloss maple Ludwigs with keystone badges are extremely rare, as the finish wasn’t even catalogued until the mid–’70s.

Ringo’s Let It Be “Rooftop”–era Ludwig Hollywood and Bonham’s aforementioned first custom Ludwig kit are two other notable examples of ‘60s kits in this rare finish. This kit is the only known existing kit of Carmine’s from this period.

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