Musician’s Friend mourns the loss of drumming innovator and industry icon, Vic Firth.
Everett “Vic” Firth, the man who founded the drum stick company that bears his name, has died at 85.
Born the son of a trumpeter, on June 2, 1930 in Winchester Massachusetts, Firth began learning the cornet at four. Later he would take up percussion, piano, clarinet, trombone and music arrangement. By the time he entered high school, he was working steadily as a percussionist, and at 16 put together an 18-piece band in which he played everything from the drum kit to vibraphone.
After graduating from The New England Conservatory, Firth became a percussionist with the prestigious Boston Symphony Orchestra. It was in this role that he began whittling down commercially available sticks to the profile and weight that suited him. After fashioning two prototypes by hand, Firth sent them to a wood turner in Montreal to be reproduced.
Due to their popularity with his students, Firth eventually formed a company to begin making the sticks. Reflecting back on the founding of his enterprise, the accidental businessman remembered, "It came out of necessity, not of imagination or my ability to start a company."
Founded in 1963, the company thrived under his direction producing a broad range of drum and percussion sticks and mallets. In 2010, Vic Firth Company merged with cymbal maker Avedis Zildjian Company, while retaining its autonomous operations. The company’s sticks continue to be played by some of the world’s most respected drummers including Charlie Watts, Steve Gadd, Steve Jordan and Dave Weckl.