Vic Firth in 2006
June 2, 1930|
Winchester, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Died||July 26, 2015
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Occupation(s)||Musician, business owner|
|Instruments||Percussion instruments, cornet, trombone, clarinet, piano, drums, timpani|
|Oral History, Vic Firth talks about how he started making drumsticks in order to make more sophisticated sounds.” Interview date July 19, 2003, NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) Oral History Library|
Everett Joseph "Vic" Firth (June 2, 1930 – July 26, 2015) was an American musician and the founder of Vic Firth Company (formerly Vic Firth, Inc.), a company that makes percussion sticks and mallets.
Founded in 1963 and headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, the company bills itself as the world's largest manufacturer of drum sticks and mallets, which are made in Newport, Maine. In 2010, the company merged with Avedis Zildjian Company; officials said at the time that the companies would continue to run independently.
Vic Firth was born June 2, 1930, in Winchester, Massachusetts. He was raised in Sanford, Maine by parents Everett E. and Rosemary Firth, where he graduated from Sanford High School. Son of a successful trumpet player, he started learning the cornet at age four, turning later to percussion, trombone, clarinet, piano, and music arrangement. When he reached high school, he was a full-time percussionist, and created an 18-piece band at age 16. He played a variety of percussion instruments such as vibraphone, timpani and the drum set. He held a Bachelor's degree, as well as an Honorary Doctorate in Music from New England Conservatory in Boston.
Vic Firth Company
|Industry||Manufacturer of percussion sticks and mallets, salt and pepper mills, and rolling pins|
Number of locations
Boston, Massachusetts (headquarters)
Newport, Maine (manufacturing)
|Vic Firth, Founder|
The company began when Firth, who had been performing with the Boston Symphony Orchestra for 12 years, was asked to perform pieces which he felt required a higher-quality drumstick than those that were currently being manufactured. Firth decided to design a set of his own sticks.
Firth hand-whittled the first sticks himself from bulkier sticks and sent these prototypes to a wood turner in Montreal. The two prototypes that he sent would become the SD1 and SD2, the first two models of sticks manufactured by Vic Firth, Inc. Firth said, "It came out of necessity, not of imagination or my ability to start a company." Although the sticks were initially intended for Firth's personal use, they gained popularity among his students and were eventually carried by retailers.
As of 2012, the company offered about 300 products, and made 12 million sticks a year. The company also produced a line of pepper mills, salt grinders, and rolling pins sold under the Vic Firth Gourmet brand for many years until those interests were sold to Maine Wood Concepts of New Vineyard, Maine in 2012 and re-branded under the name Fletchers' Mill.
- Danny Carey (drummer for Tool & VOLTO!)
- ?uestlove (drummer for The Roots & The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon)
- Carter Beauford (drummer for the Dave Matthews Band)
- Steve Gadd (session drumming legend in NYC, Paul Simon, Steely Dan, James Taylor, Carly Simon, Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, Art Garfunkel and countless others)
- David Garibaldi (funk legend, drummer for Tower of Power)
- Dave Weckl (session drummer in NYC and Los Angeles)
- Steve Jordan (session drummer, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Cat Stevens, Boz Scaggs)
- Gavin Harrison (Porcupine Tree, King Crimson, 05Ric, O.S.I.)
- Russ Miller (session drummer in Los Angeles)
- Joe Butterworth of Talanas
- Charlie Watts (The Rolling Stones)
- Peter Erskine (Weather Report, jazz legend)
- Jack DeJohnette (Miles Davis)
- Carmine Appice (Vanilla Fudge, Rod Stewart, Beck, Bogert & Appice)
- Rod Morgenstein (The Dixie Dregs, Winger)
- Billy Cobham (jazz legend)
- Ted Atkatz (former Principal Percussionist, Chicago Symphony Orchestra)
- Sheila E. (Prince, Ringo Starr)
- Keith Carlock (Steely Dan, Toto, James Taylor)
- Abe Laboriel, Jr. (Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton)
- Roger Taylor (Queen)
- Paulinho da Costa (session legend in Los Angeles)
- Thomas Lang (Stork, solo artist)
- Tony Royster Jr. (Jay-Z, solo artist)
- Vinnie Paul (Hellyeah, Pantera, Damageplan)
- Mark Schulman (Pink, Cher, Foreigner)
- Vinnie Colaiuta (Sting, Jeff Beck, sessions)
- Matt Garstka (Animals as Leaders)
- Christoph Schneider (Rammstein)
- Shannon Lucas (All That Remains, The Black Dahlia Murder)
- Andy Hurley (drummer for Fall Out Boy)
- "The History and Development of Vic Firth Inc". Vic Firth. Retrieved October 14, 2012.
- "Vic Firth". Vic Firth. January 20, 2012. Retrieved October 14, 2012.
- "Vic Firth Company and Avedis Zildjian Company Announce Merger". VicFirth.com. Retrieved December 21, 2010.
- "Vic Firth Company Founder: Vic Firth". Retrieved January 23, 2012.
- "SHS Hall of Fame: Vic Firth". Retrieved January 9, 2014.
- "Vic Firth, 85; was celebrated BSO timpanist and drumstick maker". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2 August 2015.
- "Vic Firth, noted BSO timpanist, drumstick maker, dies at 85". Boston Globe. July 28, 2015. Retrieved July 28, 2015.
- "Vic Firth Gourmet". Vic Firth Gourmet. Retrieved October 14, 2012.
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