Between 1965 and his death in 1978 Keith Moon was a loyal Premier endorsee. Premier was eager to cater to Keith's whims, building him some of the most memorable kits ever seen. The Pictures Of Lily kit was certainly the most colourful.
Pictures Of Lily was a 1967 Who single, inspired by Lily Langtry (the 'Jersey Lily'), an actress who had an affair with King Edward VII and died in 1929. The Who's publicity for the single featured an 'artistic' photo of Lily and Keith seized the idea of adorning his latest - and at that time biggest - kit with it.
Keith described the drums as his 'exploding' kit and himself as the 'Patent British Exploding Drummer'. This legend became the second of three alternating graphic panels, the third being The Who's logo, rendered in Day-Glo Fluorescent paint. Premier's 2006 Spirit Of Lily kit is authorised by Keith Moon's estate, Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey, and replicates the original graphics.
Premier offered the kits over 14 months, one month for each year of Keith's contract with them. Each kit includes a collector's booklet and a set of soft cases.
Spirit Of Lily is basically a top line Premier Series kit in Keith's original configuration, adorned with the Pictures Of Lily graphics. Premier toyed with the idea of an exact replica, but it really didn't make sense. It is unfeasible to make some parts from the '60s, the shells for starters. Back then Premier produced thin Finnish birch shells with beech glue rings. These have been superseded by Premier Series six-ply birch shells without glue rings.
Premier's Colin Tennant says: "The original three toms in the Victoria And Albert Museum (V&A) didn't have glue rings either, so we stayed true to the original".
What about the hardware? Well, Moonie's kit had Gretsch and Rogers Swiv-O-Matic fittings, so you can't expect Premier to fit them today. Premier's hardware has moved on light years since the flimsy days of the '60s and it would be impossible - and ridiculous - to make '60s hardware now, so the kit has Premier's best bass drum spurs, tom-tom legs and bass drum tom mounts.
The lugs are the oval Premier Series design. It would have been great to have seen the original '60s arrow lugs, but apparently they've gone AWOL. Premier does still make the original, low profile die-cast rims and these have been fitted, which is just as well as the cast rims have eight lug holes and the original Lily kit had eight graphic panels on every drum, positioned between the lugs.
Facts and Figures
The kit comprises two 22"x14" kicks, three 14"x8" and two 16"x16" toms, and a steel shelled 14"x51/2" Spirit Of 2000 snare. The 14"x8"s were a Premier peculiarity, as every other company made 13"x9"s. Keith's original two floor toms were 18" deep, but Premier no longer have the moulds for them.
However, Keith also had a single 16"x16" floor tom, which can be seen in some photos. The positioning of the legs around the floor toms is odd, but once again faithful to the originals. Instead of being equally spaced, two legs are set close together with the third spaced at some distance. No one seems to know why.
The Spirit Of 2000 snare is inspired by the '60s 2000 snare drum. Keith generally used Gretsch and Ludwig snares, but the 2000 snare can be seen on stage with the Lily kit in at least one photo. The Spirit snare has a chrome plated steel shell and eight tube lugs and is fitted with the original 2000 internal parallel snare mechanism. The curved throw-off lever is elegant, but stiff and noisy, and aligning the snares is not easy. Authentic yes, but also outdated.
With its thin birch shells in '60s sizes, original die-cast rims and coated Remo Ambassador batters the Spirit Of Lily should approximate Moonie's sound pretty well. The 14" deep bass drums give the appropriate fast smack and then there's the question of the three 14"x8" toms. Adjusting the trio to get a good range of intervals is obviously limited.
However, a big part of Moonie's blamming, timpani-like tom sound was due to these uniquely dimensioned toms, and there's no doubt you could get one hell of a clatter. The Premier Series is, in any case, a premium kit with a proven great sound.
Let's get to the critical part of the exercise, the Lily graphics. Premier has done a thorough job. Colin explains: "We tracked three toms down to the V&A, so we got a good foundation for the artwork, sizes, etc. We found a bass drum head on another one of Keith's drums in the V&A, so that was relatively easy to reproduce.
Close examination revealed unexpected details. The pinky-red part of 'exploding drummer' on the bass drum wraps around the Union Flag but doesn't on the toms, the three tom brackets are mounted through one each of the three panels, and the Premier 'P' logo badges were always positioned at the bottom of the shell on a Lily panel. All these details have been meticulously copied".
Finally Colin says, "The covering is digitally printed onto plastic wrap and contains UV varnish for protection. The colours are consistent with no variations in shade - every batch will always be exactly the same - and it won't fade or yellow under stage lighting".