Gear Stories With Sylvia Massy: Trixon Speedfire

May 21, 2010 4:42 PM, By Sylvia Massy

MY OBSESSION WITH STRANGE DRUMS

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What the heck? Were those drums sat on by an elephant? Someone must have left that kick drum out in the rain, causing it to warp into a weird melted shape—like the cake in that old “MacArthur Park” song.

Long ago, while visiting Pro Drum Shop on Vine Street in Hollywood, a magnificent and unusual old set of drums caught my eye. The drums were so cool looking I didn’t even care what they sounded like. I had to know more about them. I had to have my own Trixon kit. Not just any Trixon kit, but the largest, most elaborate kit the company made.

My Trixon Speedfire kit took years to restore.


My Trixon Speedfire kit took years to restore.


So my search began. I learned that Bill Haley & The Comets exclusively used Trixon drums in the 1950s as they witnessed the birth of rock ’n’ roll. Buddy Rich, Louie Bellson, Gene Krupa and Keith Moon played Trixons through the ’50s and ’60s. Ringo Starr played a Trixon kit with The Beatles during their Hamburg gigs before he got his legendary Ludwig endorsement. These German-made drums not only came in the wild melted Speedfire shape that was so intriguing to me, but also came in strange conical shapes and were made from curious, innovative materials long before other drum makers used them. Trixon also made more traditional cylindrical-style wood drums that were imported into the States until the ’70s.

Back East, I found a Trixon enthusiast who had a large Speedfire kit for sale that needed a complete restoration. We made a deal, I paid him in full and waited four freakin’ years for my kit to arrive. To add to my frustration, when it finally showed up it was incomplete. However, during those four long years, I never stopped looking for the elusive Trixons. It was an obsession. And one day I found a treasure trove of Trixon kits and parts in—of all places—Tucson, Ariz.

Bill Haley and drummer Dave Holly from the Comets goofing off for the 1964 Trixon catalog

Bill Haley and drummer Dave Holly from the Comets goofing off for the 1964 Trixon catalog

In a darkened back room on the third floor of an ancient music shop called The Chicago Store (in downtown Tucson), I hit paydirt. I found stacks of conical and regular Trixons and two beautiful but disheveled Speedfire kits. You can imagine how my heart jumped out of my chest as the flashlight landed on those Speedfire sets, tucked away on a high shelf, untouched for at least a dozen years. I brought down the most complete kit but left the other behind for some other lucky person to find. Parts from that Chicago Store discovery were essential in completing my glorious Trixon Speedfire kit.






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