ROBERT ZILDJIAN, MUSICAL CYMBAL CO. FOUNDER, DIES AT 89
Boston Herald, MA
March 29 2013
by Ira Kantor
Robert “RZ” Zildjian, whose eponymous moniker could be seen on the
musical cymbals of rock legends and jazz virtuosos alike, has died
at the age of 89.
Zildjian was the Boston-area founder of the Sabian Inc. musical
cymbal manufacturing company. His death was confirmed by the company
in website and Facebook posts.
“A tireless and dynamic force within the drum industry, he inspired
each one of us in the Sabian family to work harder, to reach farther,
to make a difference – and he led us by example,” the company wrote.
“With his bare hands he shaped the Sabian cymbal brand into his life’s
story – and by extension we became his family.”
Zildjian was the descendant of 10 generations of Armenian cymbal
makers. His father, Avedis Zildjian, immigrated to Boston from
Turkey at the beginning of the 20th century. Together with Zildjian’s
great-uncle Aram, Avedis founded the Avedis Zildjian Company, where
they began manufacturing cymbals for the rest of the world, according
to Sabian’s website.
At the age of 14, Zildjian, along with his older brother Armand,
began apprenticing at his father’s company. In time he would serve
several roles, including accountant, advertising executive, artist
relations and sales as demand for cymbals soared post-World War II
and into the rock ‘n’ roll era.
Zildjian then went on to set up a subsidiary, Azco, in Meductic,
New Brunswick, Canada in 1968.
When Ziljian’s father died in 1979 at the age of 90, the entire cymbals
business was left to him and Armand. Yet their partnership would not
last as Armand inherited the controlling share, according to Sabian’s
website. This caused two years of litigation in Massachusetts courts
and resulted in a settlement under which Armand kept the Avedis
Zildjian Co. and Robert Zildjian received the Azco subsidiary.
Zildjian opened Sabian in 1981, an acronym formed from the first two
letters of the names of his children, Sally, Bill and Andy.
“I’d like to be the best cymbal company in the world,” Zildjian said
in an early Sabian interview. “I’m not that worried about being the
biggest. But if we are the biggest, that’s good, too. But being the
best is primary … that’s my motivation.”
Further details were not immediately available.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.