Legendary Stick Builder Vic Firth Passes Away At 85

Legendary Stick Maker Vic Firth Passes Away At 85

Vic Firth

We were saddened today to hear of the passing of Everett "Vic" Firth, the percussionist whose name is synonomous with his stick company.

Vic Firth was a singularly talented individual in the drumstick business, and in many other areas of life. He started on cornet and later moved on to drums. By the age of sixteen he led his own big band. A few years later in his twenties he became the youngest principal percussionist ever of the Boston Symphony, while also moonlighting as a big-game African safari guide. He followed that by becoming a successful investment adviser and art gallery owner, while still holding down his prestigious percussion chair. And, along the way he built the biggest drumstick company in the world. Many people would be happy with one of Vic's accomplishments, but he was larger than life.

Vic didn't just run a drumstick company. He was a walking encyclopedia of drumsticks. If you toured his factory in Maine with him you'd learn that he was intimately familiar with everything that went on there. He knew the names and the children's names of all 150 employees and he seemingly could look at a machine from twenty feet away and tell if it was working correctly. He put the same focus on all aspects of the business, from artist relations and marketing, to sales and distribution.

Vic Firth

Never Mind The Rock Stars, Here's Vic Firth
Though he was world-famous as a concert percussionist he was even more famous as the face of his stick company. When he was at PASIC shows [an event put on by the Percussive Arts Society], surrounded by famous artists, kids would line up to get Vic's autograph. Everyone knew the name Vic Firth and the tag line "A Perfect Pair," which summed up his lifelong quest in stickmaking. The story that Vic often told was that as a young musician he dropped a handful of sticks on the floor and realized that they all had different pitches. He ultimately began making sticks, aiming for those that were balanced in weight, pitch, and other attributes...a perfect pair.

He'll be remembered as a colorful musician and leader, and great friend, mentor, and competitor to many in the music business. The family has decided to have a private ceremony in the near future. DRUM! sends its condolences to his daughters, Kelly and Tracy and family, co-workers, and friends around the world.