This vintage 1963 Ludwig Hollywood set in an Oyster Black Pearl wrap comes to us from drummer Nelson Hawkins, who ordered it after paging through a Ludwig catalog in the early ’60s. The kit came with two 8×12 mounted toms, a 20″ bass drum, and a 16″ floor tom. Hawkins says that he completed the setup with a previously owned Ludwig Supraphonic LM400 snare and Zildjian cymbals. And in the ’70s, he upgraded the hardware with Ludwig’s Hercules series of cymbal stands.

Hawkins tells MD that his setup holds special significance for him. After he waited several weeks for the drums to arrive, the time finally came on November 22, 1963, to pick them up. “I walked out of the music store, packed the prize into my car, and went next door to a hotel—probably to buy cigarettes,” the drummer says. “I saw several people gathered at the lobby desk listening to a transistor radio the clerk was holding. A woman turned toward me, and with a shocked expression on her face said, ‘The President has been shot.’ What began as the day I had waited so long for suddenly turned bittersweet.”

Hawkins says he returned home and set up the drums in front of his TV while watching the coverage of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination unfold. “The confirmation of President Kennedy’s death, the swearing in of Lyndon B. Johnson with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis at the ceremony, Lee Harvey Oswald’s capture and death on live TV…. The world seemed to stand still for several days before the funeral procession.”

Hawkins says that for him, the set would go on to recall another major historical event that occurred just shortly thereafter. “A couple of months later,” he explains, “I saw a similar set perched high on a riser as the Beatles made their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. I still play these wonderful old drums, and they’re a reminder of where I was during that period, fifty-five years ago.”


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