July 28, 2015
NEW YORK (AFP) - Vic Firth, who revolutionized drumsticks and became a household name for generations of percussionists after growing fed up with lackluster quality, has died, his company announced Monday. He was 85.
News of his death set off an avalanche of mourning messages on social media, with Vic Firth becoming a top trending item on Twitter, as percussionists recalled the sticks of the company he founded in 1963.
"My heart is broken. Thank you, Vic, for all you have contributed to the world of drumming," tweeted Chris Fryar of country stars the Zac Brown Band.
David Boughter of the Atlanta heavy metal band I'll Be an Empire tweeted: "RIP Vic Firth. I've played your sticks since I started drumming eight years ago and plan on using them for many, many more."
Born in Massachusetts, Everett "Vic" Firth had been performing with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and decided that sticks were being overlooked.
"It was not only the quality of drumsticks, it was the lack of variety of drumsticks that were being offered," he recalled later.
"A drumstick has a configuration that gives it a response on the cymbals and on the drums," he said in an interview for the Messe Frankfurt trade fair.
"Its shape has an effect on the quality of the sound and even slight variations in the manufacturing process can greatly influence the result."
Firth prided himself on looking at the science of the sticks, teaming up with forestry researchers at the University of Maine.
Competitors gradually emerged and Firth in 2010 merged his business with the Avedis Zildjian Company, the cymbal maker founded by an Armenian in 17th century Istanbul and now based in Massachusetts.
Firth's company, which continued to operate independently, announced his death in a message on its website, saying that his "boundless passion for music and musicians drove every decision he made."
It did not reveal a cause or date of death.