bernie stone at namm 2013
Bernie with a prototype snare drum, NAMM 2013

Bernie Stone has had a long and storied history in both drumming and the drummaking world. From 1984 to 1989 he was head of drum repairs at The Percussion Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana. His handiwork has been sought out by many of today's top players.

During his 38-year career in building drum sets and being a musician, Bernie has had numerous memorable experiences throughout the world and has met many famous musicians, many of which ended up becoming clients of his.

Bernie currently plays drums with the regional favorite band "The Bulldogs" and enjoys a busy gigging schedule in between furthering his craft as a world-class drum builder.

Read more about Bernie Stone

“Drums are my life, and they’ve been very good to me.”

Bernie Stone was born in Columbus, Ohio, in 1962.  He started taking drum lessons at the age of 11, which he did for one and one-half years.  At age 12, he began playing country and western gigs in Columbus bars with his grandfather.  At the Park Street Middle School in Grove City, Ohio, he played in the symphonic and jazz bands, and at Grove City High School, he was in the marching band during grades 9 and 10.  Also while in high school, he joined friends in the band Mercury, playing at school dances, fairs and other local events. At age 17, while a senior in high school, he joined Stormwind, a road band for which he skipped school to travel to various gigs; he was in this band for two years. 

After his stint with Stormwind, Bernie became band-less at the age of 20, and did freelance work with various bands.  From 1980 to 1982, he began fixing up old drums on his own and occasionally brought them to The Percussion Center in Fort Wayne.  Percussion Center owner Neal Graham would give in-store trades for his refurbished drums, and that was his first professional experience with restoring drums. 

From 1982 to 1984, he worked at the Columbus Percussion Center (now known as Columbus Pro Percussion), where he worked with store owner Jim Rupp, a notable jazz musician who occasionally played drums for Tony Bennett.  During this time Bernie also worked with Bob Breithaupt, a music and percussion professor who is now Department Chair of Performance at Capital University in Columbus; Philip Shipley, who later became the principal percussionist for the Columbus Symphony Orchestra; and the legendary drum corps instructor Ray Weiner, who was with the Garfield Cadets and the Slingerland Drum Company.

Bernie Stone's Time with Buddy Rich

buddy rich and bernie stone

It was 1986 and just a usual Saturday at work at The Percussion Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana, when I received a phone call from one of our customers, Roger Detrick, the president of the Local Musicians Union in Lima, Ohio. (Roger was also a friend who shared my love of vintage drums). Earlier in the week, he had told me that the legendary drummer Buddy Rich was coming to town and had asked me to come meet him, but I had put it out of my mind until then. "Are you coming over? Buddy's here and said he'd like to meet you!" said the voice on the other end of the line.

I was very excited to hear this, as Buddy Rich had been my idol for quite some time. I had first met him in 1974 at the age of 12, when my Grandpa spent a lot of money and took me to the Grandview Inn in Grandview, Ohio (an adults-only, old-time supper club) where Buddy Rich was playing at the time. When my Grandpa pointed me out to Buddy, telling him I was an aspiring drummer, Buddy said, "Tell him he's got 20 years to go - see 'ya, kid!"

In 1984, Neal Graham from The Percussion Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana at the recommendation of Ray Weiner encouraged Bernie (who was age 22 at the time) to come to Fort Wayne to be his primary drum shop technician. During his tenure with The Percussion Center, which lasted until 1989, Bernie was exposed to various high-profile projects and had the opportunity to build tour kits for well-known groups and musicians such as Neil Peart of Rush, Jack Grondin and Steve Brookins of 38 Special, "Wild" Mick Brown of Dokken, the late Eric Carr of KISS, Bill Cobham and two tours of John Mellencamp with Kenny Aronoff on drums. 

One of the highlights of this career came in 1988, when Bernie was presented with a platinum album celebrating 1 million copies sold of the Dokken album "Back for the Attack". The award was sent to Bernie in appreciation for his customizing Wild Mick Brown's Monsters of Rock drum kit – a five-piece Tama he painted in a custom finish that Bernie called Brilliant Ruby Metallic.

In 1994, Bernie became the drummer for Spike and the Bulldogs, a popular regional band that plays rock and roll music from the 1955 through 1966 era, mainly to sold-out audiences in the tri-state area of Northeast Indiana, Northwest Ohio and Southwest Michigan. The band is Whatz Up magazine’s nine-time Whammy award winner for Best Oldies Performers.  Over the years, Bernie and the band have performed with such artists as the Beach Boys, Chubby Checker, Herman's Hermits, and Mike Smith of the Dave Clark Five.  The band has also been a featured performer on 16 cruises throughout the Caribbean and Mexican Riviera.