Neil Graham RIP


Platinum Member
I just got my issue of Modern Drummer in the mail, and I was shocked to read Neil Graham passed away last December.

I was wondering why I didn't see him at NAMM.

Neil is best known as the founder of XL Specialty, who made the concept of the molded plastic drum case popular long before the Humes and Berg Enduro, SKB and such came along.

He also designed the coffin style hardware cases. As well as various innovations in marching harnesses.

Before that, Rush fans know him as the owner of the Fort Wayne Percussion Center in Fort Wayne Indiana, where Neil Peart bought or had customized items that Peart didn't get direct from his endorsements. For those that recall the article when Peart took various drum kits to a barn to test them all to decide on a new kit, it was Neil Graham who set that all up. When Peart had in the side of his drums coated with a thin layer of fiberglass, it was Graham's shop that did that.

I met Neil Graham some 20 odd years ago. We weren't close, but we always talked at NAMM. Sometimes, I'd just hang out in his booth. When he decided to close down the Fort Wayne Percussion center to concentrate on running XL, I just happened to be in the area visiting family and he gave me a tour of his operation and he let me dig through some spare parts for vintage parts I needed for 1920's drum I was (attempting) to restore.

Sadly, a few years back he sold XL to Gator cases, but he had stayed with Gator overseeing the drum cases, and was still at NAMM every year.

I had no idea he developed health problems.

But if you ever used a plastic drum case, regardless of who made it, you can thank was Neil Graham for making the concept happen.