At the age of ten or eleven I discovered Jazz, and drums become my raison d'etre.
At first I would emulate brush specialist Chico Hamilton of the Gerry Mulligan Quartet. I didn't have any drums but swishing my homemade copper wire brushes over the daily newspaper, placed atop the French polished sideboard in my parent's home, was pretty realistic. "Don't let your dad see you doing that!"
Dad was a Master Cabinet Maker; he'd made that piece of furniture with his bare hands. (I still have the sideboard.)
Sometimes in front of our Bush radiogram, I would accompany the Benny Goodman Orchestra and Gene Krupa on a Cadbury's Roses tin with the lid slightly askew - this produced a nice rattling snare effect. Very "Hound Dog" Or, for that funky piccolo rim-shot crack: an Oxo tin was ideal.
They didn't last long though, with the aid of a pair of Nelson Grammar School paint brush handles, borrowed from the art department, I gave them what for.
I won't bore you by describing my "cymbals" and the other percussive contraptions, but to set the scene: My Grandad, Alf Precious, was a plumber and lived next door...
Some of the drummers in my life
Gene Krupa who played with Benny Goodman
Larry Bunker/Gerry Mulligan
Joe Morello/Dave Brubeck
Sonny Payne/Count Basie
Mel Lewis/Mel Torme
Don Lamond/Woody Herman
Ronnie Verrell/Ted Heath, various UK hit records
Kenny Clare/Johnny Dankworth, various bands and chart records
Earl Palmer/Little Richard and dozens of US hit records
Ray Lucas/King Curtis
Joined The Hollies
8th December 1941
Drums and percussion
After years of using my 1963 brass Ludwig 400s and 1970's Black Beauty snare drums, I'm now using the Ludwig 6.5" x 14" hammered metal SD. I like it's 'dry' sound.
I play Zildjian cymbals. Viewed from behind the kit, left to right, I have a 12" Splash, 14" hi hats - a New Beat over a Quick Beat, a 17" Custom K Dark Crash, a 19" K Thin Dark Crash as a ride/crash, a 20" Medium Ride and a 18"Custom K Dark Crash.
I use the DW 9000 double bass drum pedals.
My timbales are the bronze 'Tito Puente' model by LP:- 12" & 13" I also use LP mini timbales, various cowbells, whistles and finger cymbals.
There is a Shure Beta 52 mic inside the bass drum fixed to a specially insulated and damped mounting system which was designed by a technician friend and myself. This allows me to have a full front HOLLIES bass drum head on show, free from the usual unsightly hole and a mic on a stand.
My drum stool is Roc 'n' Soc.
The drum kit that I currently use on stage was made by Drum Workshop Inc. of Oxnard,California, USA. I bought it from Chris Johnson who runs Scheerers Drum Shop in Leeds in 2004.
The shells are birch wood, finished in a protective laminate called 'Broken Glass'. The tom sizes in inches are:- 8x10, 9x12, 11x14, 13x16. Bass drum:- 18x22.
Gilson Lavis, drummer in The Jools Holland Orchestra recently stated the following in Rhythm Magazine
“I love Bobby Elliott. Without doubt that man is one of the best British drummers ever.
He personified that whole era of British Pop and showbiz, performance and elegance - a wonderful, wonderful player.
It was actually watching him that made me want to play the drums. I wanted to do what he was doing…”
9th November 2004 - Kings Lynn
4th November 2003 - Manchester