petercrissdrums.com

Welcome to the Peter Criss Drum kits page. This site attempts to list the various drum kits and specs used by Peter Criss throughout his life and career from his early days to present, including of course his time in KISS.

This site is a work in progress as all the information gathered here is from various heavily researched sources including from interviews (by either Peter himself or others that have worked or been associated with him), forums and from many existing photos that were carefully studied to determine what the details of each drum kit consisted of. The best effort was done with all the information available to try and be as accurate as possible with details such as drum kit brand, drum sizes, finish, hardware, heads, sticks, etc. Any additional photos, errors or factual input on Peter's various set ups are welcomed by sending an email to lacproductions@gmail.com. Any photos used here are also not owned by this site and are strictly for drum spec purposes only. If there are any photos that should be credited to the owner or have copyright issues, please contact this site.


Site last updated Jan 25, 2015

 
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Peter Criss First Snare Drum

Peter Criss First Drum

Peter's first drum kit was a toy one his parents bought him when he was seven. It was a set that was endorsed by one of his favorite TV programs, The Rootie Kazootie Club. Not long after, his next set was a makeshift kit his father put together consisting of an old (1930-35) army marching snare drum which rested on a wooden box. For cymbals he used two garbage can lids with some nails attached to them to give a sizzle sound when hit, and then soldered each lid to thin mop sticks. The sticks were then put into buckets of cement to keep them stable. The above photos are of Peter's first snare drum, signed by him and is now on display at The Guitar Centre on Sunset Bvld, Hollywood.


Peter Criss First Drum Kit_Peter Criss with first drum kit

Peter Criss with Barracudas_Peter Criss with Barracudas
Courtesy of Lydia Criss - Sealed With A Kiss (bottom left and right)

Slingerland Radio King Set

This is Peter's very first 'real' drum kit (the two top photos), a 1935 Slingerland Radio King set in Mother Of Pearl (or White Marine Pearl) finish consisting of a bass drum, snare and a rack tom. No floor tom was included but it had two cymbal stands mounted off the bass drum and a hi-hat stand along with the cymbals. The bass drum is 14"x24", tom is 13"x9" and the snare a wooden 5"x14" Student model. As this set is from 1935, the Mother Of Pearl finish had turned yellow by the time Peter got them when he was fifteen (1960). The bottom photo is a recent example of what this kit looked like (and this one has turned yellow too!).The drum heads all appear to be brush coated type. The two photos at the top are of Peter very early on with this kit, whilst the lower photos show an added 16"x16" floor tom at The Highway Lounge in New York in the mid sixties with his first band The Barracudas. In a Modern Drummer interview featuring Peter in 1981, he mentioned at the time that he still had this kit in his possession.

 

_Peter Criss new snare drum_Peter Criss with Sounds Of Soul
Above courtesy of Lydia Criss - Sealed With A Kiss

Around early 1967, Peter purchased a metal 5"x14" Slingerland snare drum and it was around this time that he was using it in one of his next bands, Sounds Of Soul (right photo).




Peter Criss with Sounds Of Soul. Peter Criss 1967
All above courtesy of Lydia Criss - Sealed With A Kiss

Peter Criss 1967

Peter's next drum kit is a more complete Slingerland 4-piece set in what appears in the two top photos to be Grey Agate Pearl finish. The drum sizes were possibly a 14"x20" bass drum, 10"x14" rack tom and 16"x16" floor tom as well as a 5"x14" metal snare. The top left photo is from 1967 when Peter was in a band called Sounds Of Soul. As Peter was a big Gene Krupa fan, his cymbals were possibly Zildjian. The photo on the top right and bottom were taken in the mid-late sixties during Peter's 'Sgt Pepper' phase and appears the be the same drum kit that he used in the top left photo with Sounds Of Soul. The rack tom mounting was changed from the bass drum mount to a snare stand. Drum heads are coated brush type.

 

Peter Criss 1967_Peter Criss 1967
Also in 1967 Peter was offered an acting part as a musician in a pilot TV-movie called 'Up & At 'Em'. The project only got as far as rehearsals and the above two photos show Peter on this kit in a studio setting for these rehearsals.


Peter Criss 1973_Peter Criss 1972_Peter Criss drum kit 1972
Above courtesy of Lydia Criss - Sealed With A Kiss (centre and far right)


Peter Criss 1972
Courtesy of Lydia Criss - Sealed With A Kiss

The drum kit shown above is most likely the set Peter used when he first joined KISS in 1972 and looks like a Slingerland set. At the first rehearsal, Peter used Tony Zarella's kit from Wicked Lester as it was already set up at the rehearsal loft but Peter had trouble getting used to someone else's kit so from the second rehearsal he used his own and most likely the kit shown in the above photos. The photo on the left is from one of the first KISS shows at The Coventry, New York in 1973, and the photo in the middle and right is from the Epic Records audition at KISS' rehearsal loft on 23rd St, New York 1972. The sizes appear to be a 14"x24" bass drum, 8"x12" tom, 9"x13" tom, 16"x16" & 16"x18" floor toms and a metal 5"x14" snare. The finish is in Black Beauty Pearl wrap, except for the 13" tom which appears to have been replaced with one in Gold Satin Pearl wrap (based on the 1971 Slingerland drum catalogue). The drums shells were decorated with various stickers (eg: American flag, flowers, etc). The bass drum batter head appears to be taped up from the outside (possibly gaffa tape) along with the front head removed. Drum heads are brush coated and the cymbals possibly Zildjian.

 

Peter Criss with Infinity 1973
Courtesy of Lydia Criss - Sealed With A Kiss

In 1973 whilst KISS was still in it's inception, Peter continued to also perform in clubs and bars with a separate trio called Infinity. Although it's not entirely clear, it seems Peter also used a separate 4-piece drum kit for this trio and appears to consist mainly of Slingerland drums in Gold Satin Pearl wrap finish. The Black Beauty Pearl wrap kit with the 13" Gold Satin Pearl tom in the upper photos was most likely kept set up at the KISS rehearsal loft. The kit Peter was using in Infinity, as seen in the above photo (Infinity doing a night of 50's covers in July 1973), seems to be the rest of the Gold Satin wrap kit (floor tom and smaller bass drum with the front head removed) but with the Black Beauty 13" tom from the rehearsal loft kit.


Peter Criss 1973_Peter Criss 1973

Peter Criss 1973
All above courtesy of Lydia Criss - Sealed With A Kiss

Peter Criss 1973_Peter Criss 1973_Peter Criss 1973
Above courtesy of Lydia Criss - Sealed With A Kiss (centre and far right)

Peter Criss 1973
Courtesy of Lydia Criss - Sealed With A Kiss

This drum kit shown in the above photos is possibly the same kit as in the previous photos (the Black Beauty Pearl kit) as it appears that sometime in early to mid 1973, Peter went to the Industrial Plastics Supply Company in Canal Street, Manhattan and purchased three yards of self-adhesive silver mylar wrap which he used to recover his drums for a more professional look. In the lower left photo there is also what looks like another snare drum mounted on a snare stand to Peter's right (possibly the original wooden snare for that kit, also recovered in silver mylar). These photos are from some of KISS' first shows in early to mid 1973 at the Diplomat Hotel and The Daisy. The front bass drum head was put back on and looks to have stars and moons on them (as well as the early spray painted KISS logo).

 

Peter Criss Bell Sound Studios 1973
Peter during the recording of the first KISS album at Bell Sound Studios in New York 1973.


 

Peter Criss Ludwig Silver Sparkle

Peter Criss Ludwig Silver Sparkle_Peter Criss Ludwig Silver Sparkle

Peter Criss Ludwig Silver Sparkle_Peter Criss Ludwig Silver Sparkle


Peter Criss Ludwig Silver Sparkle back shot
Courtesy of Lydia Criss - Sealed With A Kiss


Peter Criss 1974


In December 1973 and after the recording of the first album, KISS purchased all new equipment which was used on the first tour (1974). Peter got a set of 1973 Blue/Olive badge Ludwigs (possibly 3-ply maple) in Silver Sparkle wrap finish. The sizes appear to be a 14"x24" bass drum, 12",13", 14", 15" toms in standard depths, 16"x16" and 16"x18" floor toms and a Slingerland metal 5"x14" snare (Sound King?). The 12" and 13" toms are fitted with Slingerland set-o-matic brackets and set up on a double set-o-matic floor stand whilst the 14" and 15" toms are on separate snare stands.. The bass drum is muffled with a sheet of foam probably about two inches thick and curled up inside the drum (this was removed at some point as shown in the lower left photo). Glitter KISS logo on the front head and no air hole. The drum heads are Ludwig Weatherkings including the batter heads as can be seen in the bottom photo (KISS rehearsing for their first ever tour in 1974). Peter also used his Jazz/Gene Krupa influence and added splash cymbals with one mounted off a stand clamped onto the front of the bass drum along with others added inverted on top of crash cymbals.

 

Peter Criss Ludwig Silver Sparkle

Sometime during late 1974 or early 1975 Peter began changing to single-headed toms, firstly by cutting large holes in the resonant (bottom) drum heads as shown in the above photo with the Ludwig silver sparkle kit. Each tom also has a sheet of foam (about an inch thick) curled up and taped to the inside shell for muffling. Also the toms started to be miked mostly from the bottom as opposed to the top. Note a cowbell (type unknown) is mounted off the bass drum batter hoop which was also mostly a standard part of Peter's set-ups past and future.

 

Peter Criss Ludwig Silver Sparkle

Peter Criss Ludwig Silver Sparkle

Peter Criss Ludwig Silver Sparkle

Peter Criss Ludwig Silver Sparkle

Peter Criss Ludwig Silver Sparkle

Peter Criss Silver Sparkl kit snare

Peter Criss Ludwig Silver Sparkle kit cymbals

Peter Criss Ludwig Silver Sparkle kit
In March 2014 this kit went to auction as part of the the Rock Gods And Metal Monsters Auction hosted by Backstage Auctions. The drum kit also includes some of the road cases and cymbals used.


Peter Criss Pearl Midnight Special Kit

Peter Criss Pearl Midnight Special Kit

Peter Criss Pearl Midnight Special Kit

In 1975 Kiss appeared on the Midnight Special TV show. As KISS was still gaining in popularity at this time, Peter wanted to get an endorsement from a drum company to use their drums, particular Ludwig Drums. He had written a letter to Ludwig explaining that KISS was going to be big and wanted to get an endorsement from them. He received a reply letter from Bill Ludwig III politely declining his request. Peter would frequently visit a drum store in New York called Professional Percussion Centre and the owner at the time, Frank Ippolito, introduced him to Pearl drums, who were willing to give Peter an endorsement to use their drums (later when KISS became big, other drum companies, including Ludwig, would approach Peter to use their drums but out of appreciation and loyalty for Pearl, he declined all their offers). The photos above look to be Peter's first association with Pearl Drums and after experimenting with cutting out the bottoms of his toms with the Ludwig Silver Sparkle kit, his next kit now included single headed concert toms. This is a 1974 Pearl fiber glass kit ("Different Strokes" set-up) with a Jupiter steel snare drum. The finish is in matt or satin black (Black Livery) and the sizes appear to be similar to the Ludwig Silver Sparkle kit. Toms are 12", 13", 14" or 15" (mounted on a snare stand), 14"x22" bass drum, 5"x14" snare and both the 16"x16" and 16"x18" floor toms appear to be the standard double headed type (possibly with the bottom heads cut out). Peter also possibly changed to to CS black dot clear heads at this time as well. Front bass drum head with the glitter KISS logo appears very similar to the one used in the Ludwig Silver Sparkle kit although with not as much dampening. The splash cymbal mounted off the bass drum has been replaced by two on either side of the kit mounted upside down on top of the crash cymbals. At the end of the performance Peter trashed his kit (see photo below) and that was the last we saw of this drum kit. All Zildjian cymbals.


Peter Criss Mirror Ball Kit

Peter Criss Mirror Ball Kit

Peter Criss Mirror Ball Kit

Peter Criss Mirror Ball Kit
The Alive 'Mirror Ball' Pearl drum kit. Peter's set up had grown to include more drums and cymbals than ever before. Used during the Alive tour in 1975, it was stored away after the tour for many years and finally put on display at the 1995 KISS Conventions (see bottom photo), first held in Australia and then the USA. The finish is a 'Mirror Ball' wrap. The sizes likely as follows: 6", 8", 10", 12", 13", 14", 15" concert toms, 16"x16" and 16"x18" concert floor toms all with clear CS Black Dot heads. Peter also added what appears to be a 12"x14" tom mounted flat on a snare stand to his left. As noticed in the top photo, the front bass drum head is removed (likely for professionally recording the show). This was sometimes the case on other kits and tours at different times as well (eg, KISS live in Houston 1977, from the Kissology DVD).


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