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Sabian Cymbals Founder Robert Zildjian Dies of Cancer at 89

Robert Zildjian
Sabain: Official Website

Percussion icon and founder of Sabian Cymbals, Robert Zildjian, has died at the age of 89. The Boston born businessman succumbed after a battle with cancer on March 28, and is survived by his wife, three children and eight grandchildren.

Robert Zildjian formed Sabian cymbals after a family feud resulted in the businessman leaving yet another legendary cymbal company, Zildjian. Family tradition dictated that the secrets of the Zildjian cymbal company would be passed down only to the oldest son, but Avedis Zildjian III offered the sacred information to both Robert and his younger brother Armand, eventually leading to a rift which broke the brothers apart, leaving them as competitors.

Drummers who currently use Sabian symbols include Neil Peart (Rush), Mike Portnoy (Adrenaline Mob, ex-Dream Theater), Ray Luzier (Korn) and Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers), among many other artists.

Sabian released a heartfelt tribute to Robert Zildjian in response to his passing:

It is with deep, deep sorrow that we announce the passing of Robert “RZ” Zildjian, our beloved founder and leader. 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.

His professional story is well known. Having been dealt a major career setback at an age where most men would have opted for retirement, RZ instead chose to re-invent the cymbal business with his own hand-crafted brand, a brand that would forever change the face and sound of popular music. With his bare hands he shaped the Sabian cymbal brand into his life’s story – and by extension we became his family.

We mourn his passing, and he will be forever in our hearts. But we are better people for having known RZ, and we are richer for having worked alongside him. We draw comfort from the knowledge that his spirit will live on in the music made by drummers the world over.

Rest in peace, RZ.

A memorial guestbook has been posted on Sabian’s official website, but to due the massive outpouring of mourners, the site’s server has been struggling to keep up, but if you’d like to pay tribute to RZ, be sure to commit your name to the digital guestbook.

We’d like to offer our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Robert Zildjian – a man who made our lives louder, but infinitely more enriched.

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