In 1974 I joined CBS/Arbiter Ltd. in their London offices as a Promotions Manager. My main role was to ensure that the ‘name’ musicians of the day (especially drummers) were playing our products. This would involve me attending the BBC Studios in Shepherds Bush every Wednesday to watch the filming of Top of The Pops and to encourage the acts appearing to consider and or swap over to CBS musical instruments. I also had to visit all my old haunts including theatres and concerts halls for the same reason. For the first 6 months, it felt like I hadn’t stopped playing professionally. I was still in the Smokey recording studios, and the TV studios, and all those grubby back-stage areas. The only difference was that this time, I didn’t have to play!
Another of my roles at CBS/A (and there were many!) was to demonstrate the product to interested potential customers en masse, usually on behalf of one of our European distributors or retail outlets. The events are known as ‘Drum Clinics’. I did literally dozens of these things a lot on my own and some with ‘Star’ drummers such as Jon Hiseman and Roy Burns.
The picture shown is from a clinic tour I did of Sweden for Brinks Music, the Swedish distributor of the time. The owner of the company, Stig, was a lovely guy and went out of his way to make my stay in his Country a happy one. He also provided a three piece band to travel with me, Guitar, Bass and Keyboards. On the occasion this pic was taken, I had arrived in the Country at about 4.00 pm and by 7.00 pm we had all the demonstration kits set up, I had rehearsed a couple of numbers with the guys in the group and by the time I had changed clothes ready for the set, there were 500 people sitting in the audience!
It was Stig who was responsible for introducing me to the drummers with ABBA (they had two), Ola Brunkert and Malando Gassama and through that introduction both drummers played our kits throughout their world tour in 1977.
The picture below is from the front page of the London Evening News Monday February 14th 1977.
The article was by John Blake and the picture was taken by David Thorpe. It was a bit of a coup for me and I felt quite pleased that I had managed to get two drum kits on the front page of a major London paper, and, behind ABBA one of the biggest bands in the world.
Unfortunately, despite all the hard work put in by all the team at CBS/Arbiter Auto-Tune Drums didn’t stay the course and were eventually discontinued.