Ringo's Ludwig drums made in Monroe up for auction
If you ever wanted to own one of Ringo Starr’s Ludwig drums that were made in Monroe, or a multitude of other items from the ex-Beatle, then now’s your chance.
All you need is dough.
Ringo is auctioning off three drum kits crafted in Ludwig’s Monroe plant along with his very first Ludwig kit and hundreds of other items from throughout his career with the Beatles and beyond.
The sale by Julien’s Auctions for property from Ringo’s career is Friday and Saturday. He and his wife, actress Barbara Bach, also are putting up for bid many items from their homes, an auction that started Thursday and concludes Friday.
People can bid in person in Los Angeles, online after registering at juliensauctions.com or by phone.
“We’re fed up with having the stuff in storage when it could be put to some good use and also give a lot of people joy,” Ringo told The Associated Press. “We have so much stuff and a lot of it we haven’t seen in 20 to 30 years.”
Ludwig is a century-old drum maker from Chicago that moved to Monroe in the mid-1980s, and where 50 people craft drums for the likes of Ringo, Questlove and Alex Van Halen.
The trio of Monroe-made kits include one from 1989 Ringo played with his All-Starr Band, (pre-auction estimate $50,000-$70,000), a 2002 gold sparkle kit from the “Concert for George” ($30,000-$50,000) and a 2011 studio drum kit ($20,000-$40,000.)
But those are relative steals compared with the kit that helped launch Beatlemania and Ludwig’s fortunes – Ringo’s first Ludwig drum set. He has spoken of how he bought it in London before the Beatles came to the states, enamored by its look, its sound and its American origins – a loyalty that has lasted for more than 50 years.
Ringo used the “Oyster Black Pearl Drumbeat” kit in more than 200 live shows and over 180 studio recordings in 1963 and 1964. It has a pre-auction estimate of $300,000-$500,000.
Even that may be a bargain. Last month, Julien’s sold a 1962 acoustic guitar of John Lennon’s for $2.4 million, triple the pre-auction estimate, while the Beatles “T-logo” drum head from their 1964 “Ed Sullivan Show” appearance fetched $2.1 million.
Julien’s is used to handling such materials. It bills itself as “The Auction House to the Stars,” having sold Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” jacket, one of Marilyn Monroe’s movie dresses and a guitar owned by Elvis.
Flip through one of the two online catalogs for this week’s sale and see the range of items, which appear like a magical mystery tour of Ringo’s career and life. They include Ringo’s pinky ring from the 1960s, used drum sticks and an antique Louis XV wall mirror.
Some proceeds will go to the couple’s Lotus Foundation. It’s common in the auction world for consignors to designate some proceeds to a favorite charity.
Gary Astridge is a Beatles drum historian and curator who helped Julien’s document Ringo’s kits and gear for the auction.
He said when Ringo was at Julien’s recently for a photo shoot with his first Ludwig kit, he looked up at a big black-and-white photo of the Beatles and said, “There’s the boys, we’ll always be the boys.” Then he sat down, took a pair of drum sticks Astridge was holding and played the kit for the first time in half a century.
A sampling of auction items
In addition to Ringo’s various drum kits, here are just a few of the items up for auction, and their pre-auction estimate:
▪ Ringo’s “Hard Day’s Night” suit, and a publicity photo ($15,000-$20,000.)
▪ Ringo’s drum case ($1,000-$2,000.)
▪ Beatles record carrier ($400-$600.)
▪ Ringo’s velvet coat ($500-$700.)
▪ Ringo’s gold watch, circa 1965. ($30,000-$50,000.)
▪ Antique Louis XV mirror ($12,000-$18,000.)
▪ Ringo’s Dunhill lighter from the 1960s ($4,000-$6,000.)
▪ Ringo’s Swedish sales award ($400-$600.)
▪ Barbara Bach signed “The Spy Who Loved Me” poster ($300-$500.)
▪ Ringo’s “All-Starr Band” T-shirt ($500-$700.)
Source for estimates: Julien’s Auctions