3/28/13: Sadly, Bob Zildjian passed away today. As you already know, Bob was the founder of Sabian and of course, his contributions to the Avedis Zildjian legacy are enormous. He was a very important figure in the percussion world and one of the most inspiring people I ever met.
I had always wanted to meet Bob and the first time I had a chance to do so was at NAMM a few years ago thanks to my pal, Sabian artist rep Paul Cellucci who arranged it. NAMM is always a circus and people are always trying to grab time with people like Bob, so I would have been happy just to say hello and go. But, Bob sat down with me for an hour and wouldn't let me go. He was so complimentary about our store in Chicago and also about NY. He went so far as to say that what we had created in NY with our shop was the best thing that happened there for the drum world in the last 40 years. It truly felt great and it meant a lot to me coming from Bob, whom I respect so much. At that time he invited me to come up to the Sabian factory and I was thrilled. I can think back to the very early 70s when I was about 18 years old and lived back in Rhode Island. I would drive up to the Zildjian factory in Massachusetts and sit in my car outside and wish that someday I could go in. I did finally do that back when I opened my Illinois store and it was a thrill. By the same token, being invited by Bob to come up to Sabian was incredible and very exciting for me.
Due to schedule issues and the like it took me a long time to get there, but thanks to continual prodding from my Sabian rep Bob Rupp (Thanks Bob!) I went up last year, and I am SO glad I did because if I had waited any longer I would have missed my last chance to spend time with Bob, and I would have regretted it forever. The trip last year was fantastic. Bob was so gracious and complimentary and he and his family made me feel right at home. Bob had a million stories of course, and since this was my first ever trip to the factory I even got a chance to hammer a cymbal (VERY badly I might add). Later on that day my Sabian rep Bob Rupp grabbed that pathetically hammered cymbal, got Bob to sign it, and it was presented to me (a total surpise) by Bob at dinner that evening. I now have that signed "cymbal" in my NY store on display. I even sat with Bob and his Sabian team to propose our concept for the Sabian Sound Studio in my NY store, whereby we bring in hand picked cymbals from the Sabian vault. Bob loved the idea and we put the deal in motion right there. Simple, to the point, and on a handshake. Bob was VERY happy to do what was needed to please a customer and always willing to listen to new ideas. One of the things he loved about our Sabian Sound Studio concept was that it was targeted to a large degree at jazz players, and he was a huge fan.
When I saw Bob up at the factory last year it drove home the fact that Sabian was now 30 years old, and that essentially he started that company when he was 60 years old and built it into a world class business. Well, I'm 60 myself, so I figure that anytime I get a little bit tired etc with the hectic pace of things, I need to step back and tell myself that if Bob could start Sabian from scratch at age 60 and stay active for 30 more years, then I can stay active and make a difference too.
While this is a sad day for all of us who knew Bob it's also a day to celebrate the many accomplishments to his credit, and, to remember him for the great guy that he was. I'm really glad I made that trip last year. Wonderful guy. I'll miss him a lot.