The Million Pound Drum Contest

On Sunday, March 20th 1966 at the Wimbledon Palais, the prize was presented to the winner of the 'Million Pound Drum Contest' which had been announced in 'Melody Maker' on January 29th as a collaboration between the music paper and Radio London. And what a prize! The million pounds tag referred to "top pop star Dave Clark who has drummed his way to a million pounds" and he was on hand the drum kit over to Carol.

Daily Big L promotions for the competition were broadcast until February 14th and the entry deadline was February 21st.

(Far left) The Melody Maker entry form. Probably, the line that reads "...the one of which he recorded 'Glad All Over' and 'Bits and Pieces'." is a typo and is intended to read "...the one ON which he recorded 'Glad All Over' and 'Bits and Pieces'."

From an entry of 2,700, Carol Offord's 'suitable station announcement' was selected to win Dave Clark's multi-hit-making Rogers drum kit. Carol nominated her friend John Tillett to receive the prize. Below, in their own words, is Carol and John's story, which has a very happy ending.

(Above) Melody Maker announces the winner



John and Carol today

John Tillett: "What a thrill to be reminded of those memorable days in March '66 when I won the Dave Clark drum set with lots of help from Carol Offord.

Our story begins with Carol and her sister Rita bringing the letter from Radio London to my home in Barking (I was in the bath at the time!) confirming that we had won, and of course for some days up to the presentation in Wimbledon on 20th March there were constant announcements on 'Big L' – all very exciting for a couple of Eastenders!

Whilst never wishing to hit any great heights in the music world, I went on to play in several groups for a number of years, earning some valuable income, but most importantly, having a whale of a time in the working men's clubs, pubs, weddings and the like.

In 1971, I married Rita in Barking and we had 2 children, Gary who is 32 and Jennie, 29. Sadly Rita passed away in April 1993 and Carol, who had always been close to her elder sister and the children, ended a long-term relationship in the same year.

For a couple of years Carol would come to visit us in Egham, Surrey where I have lived since 1984 and I am delighted to say that since a trip to Florida in 1996 to see Carol's lifetime friend, Sue, that Carol and I are an item.

To finish, the drums were kept in my garage for many years – a little faded as you would expect, but I could not bear to see them go.

Any finally, the slogan:-

'If you're in trouble, pain or in debt, FACE THE MUSIC with 'Big L' on your set'

So there you have our little story and unbelievably, it's over 40 years since the writing THAT slogan.

Our very best regards, John Tillett and Carol Offord

Update received in March 2012

Carol tells us that in 2011, Carol and John were approached by a drum enthusiast who had seen our feature and was fascinated by the story. Although they were reluctant to part with the drums, they decided that it was time they were put to good use. They sold the drum kit and regained their garage.

There is a whole photofeature on website about the Rogers 'red sparkle' kit, including shots of the original cases in which the drums were presented to Carol and John, labelled 'DC5'. There's also a picture of Keith Moon giving the kit a bashing.

Very many thanks to John, Carol and to John's son Gary, for taking the trouble to share their great story and photos. We'd love to hear from the 6 runners-up who won the Philips trannies.

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