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The Decline and Fall of the Rogers Drum Company: Observations & Opinions


The Decline and Fall of Rogers Drums

Following are my observations from 1980, as I was in search of a new drum set. It was the era of the legendary XP8 shells--8 ply "prime New England rock maple." In retrospect, these are reputed to be the best shells Rogers ever produced, but few knew or cared at the time.

Everything about buying Rogers drums back then was difficult. The dealers didn't want to stock them, sell them, or special order them because they were too expensive and had lost their unique allure. The older script logo kits were even more hideously out of date, so nobody wanted a trade-in. Shoot, if I could have gotten $50 for my 1968 Headliner kit back then, I'd have been lucky.

Most dealers had been canceled by Rogers anyway, and the company had their nose up in the air about who they were. They still were the best made drums, but most players didn't care. The Pearls, Yamahas and Tamas were being used by the young rock stars, and that's who sells drums. Every music salesman I visited shot me a pitiful, hopeless look when I told them I wasn't interested in the flashy Camco or Pearl kit in stock, regardless of the special deal they could make me "today and today only." There was a nasty recession on with interest rates at 20%, so Rogers was getting little representation in a buyer's market.

I visited the factory--it was located in Monrovia for a short time in 1980--to hand pick the shells for my kit. I spent time with Gil Madrid, the production manager, and I remember the visit as being very tense, and the factory vibe was very uptight.

Production came to a halt in 1984 while CBS management shot themselves in the foot about the future of Rogers.

After 1984, we saw imported shells and the Series 2 plastic Rogers "hardware" that became the final nail in the coffin of the finest drum company in the world. The Island Music deal and Taiwanese imports followed, then the Brooks Mays era--all inferior products simply mining the Rogers name.

The Rogers imports started with the R360 and R380s. They were made from "select Asian hardwoods." These were available as a 2nd tier Rogers set at the time the XP8s were sold.

Then came the "Series 2" drums with rubber hardware. Dave Donahoe, the brilliant engineer who designed the Memriloc system, was forced to come up with something that would be cheap but strong. Shortly after he submitted his design for the plastic parts, he resigned from the company in disillusionment. The Series 2 shells were made of "chemically treated cardboard tubes" from southern California garlic growers! Imagine that. "Prime New England rock maple" to "chemically treated cardboard tubes" in two years. What were they thinking?

The second generation R360 and R380 drums were 9 ply mahogany.

The R340s were "Acousticon" shells made by Remo.

So, the long and short of it is the XP8s were the last and best of the American made Rogers drums, according to sources. They were built at the pinnacle of the company's engineering success and reputation, in what has come to be known as the Fullerton era. There were not very many of these drums made.

(Some of the information here is credited to the Rogers Book, although the author, Rob Cook, tends to concentrate on the earlier drums like many of us on the forum. Other information is from Longroll and Ploughman, and I ask that both of these Rogers experts correct me if some facts are mistaken or have been eliminated. Also in the Rogers Book are some interesting anecdotes on William Schultz, the CBS executive who appears to have intentionally sabotaged Rogers so that he could sell the company cheaply in 1985 to a consortium consisting [sign in to see URL]!)

Last edited by tommykat1, 10/24/2007, 4:46 pm
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Re: The Decline and Fall of the Rogers Drum Company: Observations & Opinions


Tommykat - thanks for the information., you know, I was in the middle of the new marriage, new house, new kid thing back then but I just don't remember the marketing for the XP8's, I mean it may have been strong but I just don't remember seeing too much about them, thus, my ignorance of the whole product line. , you have intrigued me with your posts about this ( not to mention that gorgeous tobacco sunburst kit you have)........I'm gonna find out some more..........
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Re: The Decline and Fall of the Rogers Drum Company: Observations & Opinions


Backintoit, as I remember, there was no marketing. The music stores in Seattle had to scrounge for a catalog to find out about the latest Rogers, and they could only get the drums if they begged the factory and waited in line. And that was if they were still a dealer. My favorite local music store was canceled.

I had to drive across town to see a Rogers kit in the flesh, and the salesman wanted to dump it. It was all about, "let me show you some real drums. Check out these Pearls and Tamas over here." The stores were given tons of Japanese kits, presumably on consignment, or with reasonable terms.

"XP8 maple shells" didn't mean a thing. Wood was out. Plastic was in. Deep, resonating, boomy shells. Thick snares. Big hardware. Big cymbals. Boom stands. Lots of shells. Black, red and white were the main colors. Camco had a white kit with brass hardware that was a looker, but very expensive. Slingerland, Ludwig and Rogers were the drums that the 60s rock stars USED to play. They were out. Passe. Old peoples drums. I was 27 at the time, and the experience made me feel like I was a has been and didn't know my drums from a marimba.

that was Seattle. I'd be interested to know what others experienced at the time.
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Re: The Decline and Fall of the Rogers Drum Company: Observations & Opinions


All these posts about the history of the Rogers Drum Company are fascinating. Thanks to you guys for sharing your knowledge!
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Thanks again Tommykat, I guess that's why I really don't remember much of the marketing and yes, you are correct, everyone was getting into the plastic stuff then. Even Bonham was playing that orange Ludwig plastic set, and if I do remember, Fibes were becoming big around that [sign in to see URL] they seemed cool, they just always seemed like toys to me compared to my kit........
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Re: The Decline and Fall of the Rogers Drum Company: Observations & Opinions


Yeah! Fibes! I'd forgotten, backintoit!

It was strange. In 1978, I was playing on a Headliner kit where I'd turned the bass drum around and placed the 12" tom to the right, and added a rack of Ludwig 8" and 10" "melodic" (concert) toms to the left, on a stand (I still have 'em). The black Ludwigs didn't match the blue sparkle Rogers, but I didn't have the money to get anything else. So I gigged with these for about a year, and then bought the XP8 Londoner kit in 1980. Back then, "more was better." (Heck, you didn't even travel with a pair of brushes!!!)

So, the music store mavens insisted that I get a Tama (like Billy Cobham) or a Pearl or a Yamaha or a Camco or [sign in to see URL]! And all I wanted was Rogers, because they were the best. These guys didn't know what "good" was, and, unfortunately, Rogers was no longer able to get the message out. They had been relegated to the past.

At this point, pride set in. My Rogers had carried me this far, and I wasn't about to give them up. So I bought a new set of Rogers drums--XP8s.

Hey, I think I just figured it all out. if the drums you are using get you gigs and musicians and girls who surround you, you will just naturally go for the same manufacturer when you're next in the market. For me, in 1980, the ultra expensive and exclusive XP8 Rogers tobacco sunburst kit was both avant garde and apropos. This exclusivity had "me" written all over it.

Can you imagine what it would have been like if I'd asked to buy a new Rogers kit and saw a Series 2 or Island import? What kind of groupie would hang with THAT??????!!!!!

That's why Rogers is gone.

Screw you, Bill Schultz.

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Re: The Decline and Fall of the Rogers Drum Company: Observations & Opinions


From what I have read that does seem to be the reason Tommykat. These people in charge could not be that stupid, it was purposely caused. Evil dudes. phil emoticon
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Re: The Decline and Fall of the Rogers Drum Company: Observations & Opinions


Yes. I remember what they called this kind of selfish executive back then: "Corporate Raider." It was quite fashionable. Buy out a cash rich company, milk the reserves, deplete the inventory and sell the assets. Biddabing, biddabang, biddaboom. Apparently, Schultz did it perfectly, and hiked off into the sunset with the proceeds, leaving a legend in the making.

Last edited by tommykat1, 10/22/2007, 9:35 pm
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Re: The Decline and Fall of the Rogers Drum Company: Observations & Opinions


I was reading the Rogers Book last night before i retired for the night, it made me feel quite sad reading about the decline of the company, two points really stuck with me as I went to bed, the first point about all the wild wood snare drum shells that were destroyed, i know it said metal shell drums were the fashion at the time, but surely they could have done somthing with them, if only i had one now!! let alone the amount destroyed!! and the last thing that stuck with me, was the book saying, only one full time member of staff left working on Rogers Drums, it is a real shame, also in the book it said the guy who held the Rogers name, gave permission for some 150th anniversary drums to be made, did this happen? and the big ask is will the Rogers name ever get back ino the hands of someone who cares?...... emoticon
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Re: The Decline and Fall of the Rogers Drum Company: Observations & Opinions


Drumanorak, I refer to the Rogers book a lot, too. What an interesting read. In fact reading about the corporate raider evidence is what got me started on this particular thread. Call it therapy.

Regarding snares: COB was definitely in. But if you had a 5", you were out! I insisted that my '68 5" COB Dyna was the Cat's meow, and the younger drummers I hung with politely kept their mouths shut. Had to be 6.5" minimum, according to the disco beaters and rock mavens. And nobody liked the sound from wood. Imagine that!
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