I’ve seen a lot of epic drummers live to include Alex Van Halen (Van Halen), Ian Paice (Deep Purple), Lars Ulrich (Metallica), Frankie Banali (Quiet Riot), Robert Sweet (Stryper), Eric Carr (KISS), Cozy Powell (Whitesnake), Scott Rockenfield (Queensryche), and Herman Rarebell (Scorpions) just to name a few. All of them were amazing but no one played harder and put on more of a show than Motley Crue’s Tommy Lee. I saw Tommy on the Theater of Pain tour and I loved his drumming, his drum kit and his solo. His white double bass Sonar Kit (*He later switched to Pearl during the tour and it had to be switched out.) and Paiste cymbals were practical. This was unlike most of the other drummers from his genre who had drums that wrapped 360 degrees around them. Tommy always had kits that were not just for show. Even though his outrageous drum solos continued to grow his drum sets always remained functional. I respect that.
I’ve been looking online for the specs for his Theater of Pain kit but I haven’t been able to find any. I’m going to guess that he is using 24” or 26” bass drums, 13” and 14” (deep) rack toms, 18” and 20” floor toms and a 14” snare (I believe it was a marching snare.) He has a couple Simmons pads too. I don’t know for sure what he was triggering. I believe he had an orchestral sound that was specifically for his solo. During the solo the drum riser leaned forward 90 degrees so that you were looking straight down on the drum kit while Tommy played. This gimmick was the precursor to the drum kits that went 360 degrees around and rode on roller coaster tracks. I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a big fan of drum solos but this is one time I will make an exception. I loved everything about this solo from the visual extravaganza to the barrage of sound emanating from the gorgeous white drum kit. I also had a white Pearl kit with Paiste cymbals and felt pretty damn cool thanks to Tommy.
Here’s Tommy’s drum piece off that album. As you can hear he’s locked in the groove: