I still remember the drumset my mom provided as a wonderful surprise birthday present, a preemptive move to protect the windowsills and tabletops from any further damage by a pair of sticks I had liberated from my grade school. My Ludwig four-piece came with a snare stand, a pedal, and a bass drum accommodating a retractable cymbal stand and one of those ancient “rail consolette” tom attachments. It was a while before an actual cymbal stand or hi-hat was added, but that didn’t stop me from feeling like the happiest boy on the planet in the mid-’60s. I lucked out with the included Speed King bass-drum pedal and especially the cymbal, an early 18-inch Paiste Formula 602. (It could have just as easily been a Zilco … or worse.) I don’t recall if it was stamped with the “crash/ride” designation, but out of necessity it had to be. Getting the most out of a single cymbal is an objective as old as drum kits.
Years later, I read an interview with Tony Williams in which he bemoaned the factory custom of printing intended usage on cymbals, even his beloved K’s, exclaiming, “Crash? Ride? Man, it’s a cymbal … just hit it!” I’m paraphrasing, but interpreted his point to be that any cymbal can make many useful sounds within certain limits, if the person striking the various surfaces has musical ears and knows what he or she is doing.