David Frangioni has assembled a personal collection of some of the most iconic drumkits in history. But the drummer and entrepreneur is anything but uncharitable, opening his doors to private events and foundations like Make-a-Wish. And now he’s released a coffee-table book brimming with photos and detailed descriptions of the drums in his museum, so that even those of us who never make it down to his Drum Experience Center in south Florida can get in on the fun.
David Frangioni’s musical aspirations started when he began playing the drums at just two years old, around the time he lost his right eye to cancer. Despite the setback, the toddler continued banging away, eventually realizing his drumming dreams and making contributions to music well beyond the kit.
Frangioni was one of the pioneers of MIDI technology, parlaying that experience into a gig as Aerosmith’s in-house engineer/ technologist, a position he held between 1989 and 2000. (He continues to work with members of the band today.) Beyond Aerosmith, he’s worked as a producer, engineer, and technologist for a who’s who of superstar musicians, from the Rolling Stones, Ringo Starr, Elton John, Sting, and Journey to Bryan Adams, Phil Collins, Shakira, Rascal Flatts, Ozzy Osbourne, and Chick Corea. He’s also the founder of one of the most successful audio-video firms in the United States, he gained notoriety as the official technologist for the hit MTV show The Osbournes, and he’s been featured on CNN and NBC and in Variety and Forbes.
As he moved through his career in the tech world, Frangioni never strayed too far from the drums, keeping his chops up and slowly building a personal collection of outrageous drumsets that were owned and played by some of the most prestigious drummers in history. Crash: The World’s Greatest Drum Kits from Appice to Peart to Van Halen illustrates the history and details of these one-of-a-kind instruments, containing multiple images of dozens of historic kits played by Ringo Starr, Lars Ulrich, Carl Palmer, Alex Van Halen, Neil Peart, Peter Criss, and many more. Full and inset shots by famed rock photographer Mark Weiss set the kits in high relief, and a foreword by David’s drum hero, Carl Palmer, along with an afterword by Kiss drummer Eric Singer, put the collection in context.
“Crash puts drummers and their equipment center-stage for enthusiasts, history buffs, and music fans to explore,” says Frangioni. “This book champions each drummer and what they brought to rock and jazz, plus the extraordinary details of memorable kits.”
MD recently discussed the book with Frangioni, who graciously allowed us to share with you many of its images, including some outtakes.
MD: What was your approach to Crash?
David: I wanted to do something different from the Clint Eastwood book I’d previously released [Clint Eastwood Icon: The Essential Film Art Collection]. As a drummer who really gets into looking inside shells to see serial numbers and what year a kit was made, I wanted it to be a bit geeky. But I wanted it to be fun to look at, too, and for the reader to feel like they were sitting behind the kits, as well as seeing them from the front, from the side, and from above. I hired famed rock photographer Mark Weiss to shoot from every angle. I wanted it to be visually stunning.
MD: How did you get your hands on the kits in your collection?
David: I went after kits that I thought were among the most important of our time. I spent years researching, networking, and relentlessly searching. My goal was to
preserve these kits and share them with the world. They’re not easy to find, as so many amazing kits have either been dismantled or lost over the years.
MD: Tell us about the connection between the book and the Florida museum you exhibit them in.
David: The collection is on display at the Hit the DEC Drum Experience Center—all possible through Frangioni Foundation— which I’m proud to say is associated with the Modern Drummer Readers Poll Hall of Fame. It’s quite an exciting haven for drum lovers. It’s only open for private events and fundraisers for foundations such as Irie, Musicians on Call, and Make-a-Wish.
MD: Besides the amazing full kits, you have quite a snare drum collection.
David: My snare collection is a true passion of mine. Having one of Ringo’s limited snares from Gary Astridge is a highlight, as is the Keith Moon snare drum, Carl Palmer’s Paiste snare, and a rare Fibes snare played by Buddy Rich.
MD: Iron Maiden drummer Nicko McBrain is this month’s cover artist; can you tell us about the Nicko kit featured in the book?
David: It’s a limited-edition replica that Premier made a while back. We also have three Nicko Premier snare drums, including a flying ace model, which is a fairly tough drum to find now. It would be awesome if we could find an actual stage-played kit, but I haven’t come across one yet that’s available.
To see Nicko’s replica kit as well as many more sets featured in Crash, keep scrolling…