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Although Valje drums were produced in Los Angeles California their popularity began back east in New York and Chicago. When their popularity reached California they were in full swing. Valje drums appeared in newspapers, books, magazines, album covers, movies and TV.
 

 
In the mid 1960’s Come A Little Bit Closer hit the music charts. Jay and The Americans did an excellent job of incorporating congas into their song. Santana also used congas in their group with great success; their blend of Rock and Latin was some of the best innovative music to this day. Joe Cocker used a single conga and piano for the beginning of his classic song Feeling Alright. Even The Rolling Stones used congas for their hit song Sympathy For The Devil.
 
 
 
With the emergence of Boogie fever groups such as The Sylvers, Taste of Honey and The Jacksons all decided to use Valjes when performing. Even Peter Allen used Valjes with his flamboyant brand of music. Valjes were popular with Latin and Jazz, they were now headed in new direction-Rock and Pop.
 
 

 
In the 1970’s Tony Orlando and Dawn became so popular CBS decided to give them their own TV series. Their song Selfish One was a fine example of their true talent. The addition of congas in the background added a nice dimension to this creatively composed song. Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 played Valjes during the Bossa Nova craze. Valjes were also used when the disco scene made its appearance with KC and The Sunshine Band.

This now created a wide range of performers using Valjes for the production of their music. It was quite an impressive list here are some you may have heard of.

Santana, Chicago, Elton John, Earth Wind and Fire, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Tower of Power, Doobie Brothers, Sweetwater, Weather Report, Quicksilver and The Messenger Service, Jackson 5, Jose Feliciano, Les Baxter, Flora Purim, James Brown, A Taste of Honey, Donny Hathaway, Frankie Beverly and Maze, Spyro Gyra, Cal Tjader, Ohio Players, Chuck Mangione, Don Ho, Roy Ayers, Azteca, Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, Joe Cuba, The Chi Lites, Nelson Riddle and His Orchestra, Peter Allen, Miles Davis, The Nite liters, Big Black, Eric Clapton, Ray Cooper, The O’Jays, Yuseff Lateef, KC and The Sunshine Band, Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66, Herb Albert and The Tijuana Brass, Chick Corea, Patrice Rushen, Adam Rudoph, Stevie Wonder, Rare Earth, Miriam Makeba, Malo, Sociedad 76, Wille Bobo, Gil Scott-Heron, Ceclia Cruz, Ray Barretto, Nelson De Jesus & La Orquesta Terrifica, Hiroshima, The Sylvers, Conjunto Chaney, Freddie Hubbard, George Benson, The Spinners, The Beatles, Joy of Cooking, Joe Cocker, Barry White, Tony Orlando and Dawn, The Carpenters, Lakeside, Sonora Matancera, Johnny Zamot, The Jazz Symphonics, Chico Alvarez, Montego Joe, Mandrill, The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys, Elvin Jones, The Greatful Dead, B.B. King, Dizzy Gillespie.

 
Although Tom Flores designed drums for serious musicians Valje were not limited only to professional players.

 
They were also enjoyed by famous athletes,
strange and unusual players and players who just enjoyed the sound of Valjes at home, in the park or at the beach.
With Valjes increasing popularity it was now possible for Valje drums to appear where you least expect them.




 

Tom Flores also made custom drums. If you wanted the best drum possible and you wanted something unique, Tom was the man to see.
During the popularity of Martin Denny’s exotic music a customer walked into the shop one day. He wanted Tom to make him a blend of Hawaiian tiki and African style drum. I do not know if it was for show or for play because he wanted absolutely no metal hardware on it and wanted it to look as rustic as possible. Tom began by hand carving designs on this drum front and back. To add contrast to the drum he then placed a skin upon the drum with the hair still on it. The hair was mixed black with white. When the drum was completed it was truly one of a kind.
A customer walked into the shop one day and wanted Tom to make him a gigantic drum. He did not want the standard red oak. Tom began to create this enormous drum made of blood wood. He knew he would have to place 2 large handles on it because it was too big and heavy for one person to carry. This bothered him because he knew if 2 large handles were placed on such a large drum they would be to distractive. His solution was to create 2 slide-on plates and attach them to the drum. This allowed the handle to slide into the plate. Now the drum could be carried by 2 people one on each side. When finished the handles would slide out of the plate with no distractions. I wonder where this drum is today?
In the early 1960’s a customer placed a special order for 2 drums. He wanted one 7 ½ “ the other 8 ½ “ both 30” long. He wanted them both joined together like bongos with thin skins placed upon both of them. He loved the look of Valje hardware however he felt the side plates would be to big and would over whelm such small drums. He wanted Tom to create another side plate. Tom believed he would have to create the smallest plate possible in order to compliment such small drums.
Big Black walked into the shop one day. He had plans for 3 huge African style drums. The drums would be tunable however he wanted absolutely no holes in the shells. When the drums were completed they were spectacular. Although the shop was quite small the acoustics were excellent. When Big Black struck the drums for the first time the response was like a mini shock wave. The front window began to vibrate as well as the floor heater. It was quite impressive, something you don’t forget.
Gary Alexander walked into the shop one day with a special request. He wanted Tom to make him some wood drums he could play with sticks. He also wanted the drums made in various sizes. When completed the drums resembled oversized timbales.
Do to the success of Valje drums Tom Flores was approached for interviews on more than one occasion. They wanted to know why Valjes were played by so many famous groups and how did Valjes become so popular all without advertising. Unfortunately Tom Flores declined all interviews. He did not seek fame he merely made drums for the love of his craft.




Images and clips may be subject to copyright. Intent is to demonstrate the progression of music and its influence on Valje drums.