What do you do when you have a storeroom full of beautiful rare vintage drums that no one can see? You find a big space and share them with the world.
This is exactly what drummer and collector, Tony Moore, did when the opportunity arose during the Covid-winter of 2020.
The closure of cafés and restaurants early 2020, led the way for thinking outside of the box, when Tanawah’s Kingdom House was transformed from a tea house and art gallery, into a drum museum. It was here that Tony was able to set up and display 35 vintage and rare drum kits, featuring the largest Drouyn Drum collection in the world.
Drouyn was a pioneering Australian drum company who built drums in their Brisbane factory from 1928 to 1991 and supplied to Australia’s largest retailers. These drums were played by famous drummers, including Buddy Rich, and used by many Australian bands such as The Easybeats, The Atlantics, Max and the Meteors, The Everly Brothers, Wildwood, Skyhooks, Midnight Oil, Kings of the Sun and of course, Tony Moore.
“When you have something so special from history, it needs to be shared. I’ve been wanting to share this collection of drums and knowledge for quite some time, and these last few months have provided the perfect time to setup and do exactly that,” Moore says.
The drums range in age from an early 1900s Walberg and Auge 15” solid maple field snare, a stunning 1997 African Mahogany Pearl MHX — one of only a few in the country as this particular timber can no longer harvested, and current models of Gretsch USA customs, Ludwig and Sonor reissue vintage drums.
A favourite of the collection was a drum set made in the UK by Arbitor Autotune from the 1970s. This set was particularly popular and iconic as it was the very kit used by ABBA when they toured Australia in 1977.
Another famous drum set included the 1965 Drouyn Blue Ripple Pearl “Studio De-Lux” which Tony prepared for the production and filming of the Australian Mini-series “Friday On My Mind”, a story about the ‘Easybeats’ band.
Tony’s love for drums began when, at the age of 10, “at a boring dinner party” he found a room with a 60’s jukebox and a drum kit. Needless to say, a few hours later after playing along with the jukebox songs, Tony’s passion began which would follow him throughout his life. “The best dinner party ever,” he says with a grin.
At the age of 13, Tony was given his first drum kit and began playing drums in school bands, and with the Salvation Army band. His first drum teacher, Ken Clark, was the principle percussionist for the QLD symphony orchestra so he was classically taught, and by the age of 16, was endorsed by drum and cymbal companies.
Tony has played for kings and queens, playing for the Queen when she visited Australia in 1987 to open the Longreach Stockman’s Hall of Fame, and for the King of Tonga (invited with his band for the King’s 50th birthday). His early playing years were with Christian and secular bands, often entering ‘battle of the bands’ competitions around Queensland and the Gold and Sunshine coasts where he would win ‘best drummer’, and his bands usually placing in 1st, 2nd, or 3rd.
Through the 90’s he toured music festivals throughout Australia and also in the U.S. where he played with many music industry greats and also some well-known personalities and bands. Studio work was a favourite for Tony who jokes, although it is true, “I played drums on an album that went to number one in Greece knocking Robbie Williams out of the spot”.
Tony also was a quick study and a diverse player. He recalls receiving a phone call late one Saturday afternoon. The phone call went something like this: “you were recommended by the local drum shop as someone who can fill in without rehearsals. How fast can you learn 30 songs? How quickly could get to the Brisbane Entertainment Centre? We go on in three hours.” Tony said yes!
Tony had spent many hours at the Drouyn drum factory in his younger years, as he loved being around the instruments, the makers, and watching the process of moulding and shaping the timbers into stunning drums. These years developed a love and value for the history of old drums, their makers and players, and he has since spent a few decades restoring these drums back to life. This also proved to be very helpful when in 1994 when Tony became a drum maker, developing the stunning and intellectual T&R drum range. As the years progressed, so did his collection of vintage and rare drums.
The Tony Moore Drum Collection opened to a full house in July, to as many as covid restrictions would allow. His special guest was Jon Coghill, of Powderfinger. Tony featured Jon’s 1964 Ludwig drumkit in the show which had been used on many of Powderfinger’s albums and tours.
“Incredible! Truly incredible,” was the most common comment on the night. Just walking into the gallery was an awe-inspiring experience, a wonderfully unique event. Watching the VIP guests first walk into the space and silently exclaim WOW! Then each quickly turning into a child in a lolly shop, buzzing around, not knowing where to stop first with so much to see, hear and touch.
Tony gave an impromptu, but thorough walk-around of the exhibits, telling many stories, giving history, meaning and value to each piece, playing each drum set and sharing his love of the instrument and of people. The Tony Moore Drum Collection was a great example of bringing people together from all walks of life, backgrounds and beliefs around a shared passion to appreciate, inspire and bring joy into the world.
©Rebecca Moore 2020
Published on Christian Today Australia, September 3, 2020