His sponsor was British Steel. The kit was to be made of stainless steel, with pretty cool etchings all over the shells. In comparison to all of his other kits, it didn’t look massive. There were eight rack toms a single bass drum, and one floor tom. Then why did this drum set weigh 2.5 tons? Because Carl asked for half inch thick shells. He had two gongs, a large bell, tubular bells, and a pair of tympanis. I estimate that my drum kit, (single bass drum, two floors, and three rack toms,) weighs almost 400lbs. Imagine what the ELP roadies went through. The drum risers needed to be reinforced; the bass drum took two men to move. The cost of hauling the kit all over the world was something that the band did not take into account. If you think about it, all the gear for a four piece rock band, humans included, is probably one third the weight of Carl’s drum kit.
As Carl says in later interviews, “It was the 1970’s. Excess was the norm.” If you take into account what the entire band was doing at the time, it was par for the course. ELP took a lot of flak for being such an over the top band, when it comes to production. If you compare a modern pop superstar’s show to the “Works I” ELP tour, the old prog rockers look tame in comparison. It’s rumored that Ringo Star purchased Carl’s steel kit, and it sits in storage somewhere.
I had the chance to see Carl play at Shank Hall. He took the time to come out from behind the drum set and explain a little bit about each song before playing it. He had a pair of young men playing bass and guitar on that tour. They performed ELP instrumentals. It was almost like having Carl in your living room.