R.I.P. ROBERT ZILDJIAN

Robert ‘RZ’ Zildjian, founder of Sabian Cymbals, died yesterday, aged 89, after losing his battle with cancer.

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Sabian announced Zildjian’s death on its website on Thursday while the firm has been closed until Monday. 

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A statement on Sabian’s website reads: “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.
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“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.”

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Robert was a member of the legendary Zildjian family, makers of Armenian cymbals with a lineage that goes back centuries. Robert and his older brother Armand were integral in popularising the Zildjian brand, turning it into one of the world’s premier cymbal manufacturers.

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Avedis Zildjian Co., was founded in the Boston area in 1928 by the brothers’ Armenian immigrant father, Avedis III Zildjian, and a great-uncle. 

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When Avedis III passed away in 1979, Robert and Armand went into a legal battle over the inheritance of the family buisness, leading Robert to launch his own company, Sabian (an acronym based on the first two letters of his children: Sally, Bill, Andy), in Meductic, New Brunswick, Canada, in 1981.

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The company rapidly emerged as a powerhouse in the drum industry and Zildjian singlehandedly made Sabian the 2nd largest cymbal company in the world, coming only after his family’s business, which he also helped run for many years.

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 R.I.P. Robert ‘RZ’ Zildjian

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