Trade Regrets: Vic Firth (1930-2015)

Monday, July 27th, 2015

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Everett “Vic” Firth, the founder of the drumstick and mallet company that bears his name, passed away on July 26, 2015 at the age of 85.

Firth was born June 2, 1930, in Winchester, MA and raised in Sanford, Maine. 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.

Vic Firth 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.

Vic Firth products are distributed in Canada by Coast Music.

Below is a statement posted on the company’s social media pages:

“To our dear friends around the world:

We are heartbroken to share the news with you that Vic has passed away.

Vic was an inspiration to all of us. He was a visionary, a mentor, a leader and a friend. He always said he surrounded himself with the best people, but the truth is he brought out the best in all of us. His boundless passion for music and musicians drove every decision he made.

Vic’s spirit and legacy will continue to live at the core of the Vic Firth Company. He will be missed beyond words.”

Canadian Music Trade extends condolences to Vic’s family, friends, and peers in the industry.