Skip to main content

Passings: Preston Ritter, Drummer for the Electric Prunes (1949 - 2015)

Preston Ritter, who drummed for the Electric Prunes on their first two albums, died Monday at the age of 64. No cause of death was given although it has been reported that he has battled kidney problems for decades.

Michael Weakley was the original drummer for the Electric Prunes but, according to an interview with lead singer James Lowe, "was always looking for a better deal and didn't think things were moving fast enough with Reprise." He was replaced by Ritter before the band went into the studio to record their debut album, The Electric Prunes. That album produced the group's only two hit singles, I Had to Much to Dream (Last Night) (1966 / #11) and Get Me to the World on Time (1966 / #27).

Ritter left the band due to musical differences towards the end of recording on their second album, Underground. Once again, according to Lowe "Preston Ritter was a softspoken drummer (this did not compute to me as I felt we needed drive in the beat department). We also had some personal differences. He was technical and precise as a drummer." Weakley returned to the group in Ritter's place although Preston played on seven of the tracks.

After leaving the Prunes, Ritter did studio work for about three years including commercials and film and TV soundtracks. He later worked with the likes of Linda Ronstadt, James Brown, the Beach Boys and Dobey Gray.

Ritter also was an author of books on drumming including '67 Backbeats, a book he had written when he was 16 and was finally published in 1966, along with books on theology.

Over the years, Ritter also worked in other vocations including a police officer with the L.A. County Sheriff's Department Preston and teaching at several seminaries in South Korea between 1978 and 1984 as a non-denominational Christian missionary.