About a year ago, the marketing communications company I work for Allen & Gerritsen, was contacted by a potential client to do some Audience Research, that client was Zildjian Cymbals.
Suffice to say a music junkie, hack drummer, a Ringo wannabee like myself was insanely excited about doing work, any work, for a brand like this.
A brand I’d had grown up with.
Those like me who for the first time saw Ringo Starr sitting behind his Ludwig kit on the Ed Sullivan show back in 1964, were watching him play Zildjian cymbals.
I was nine at the time.
The day after their performance on national television, Zildjian was back ordered 90,000 cymbals.
And so it began.
My birthday present.
A few years later I was fortunate enough to be sitting stage side with my parents, age 13, watching one of the greatest, if not THE greatest drummer that ever lived play live at the legendary Lennie’s On The Turnpike, Buddy Rich.
This was 1968, roughly 4 years after The Beatles now historical performance.
And yes, he was playing Zildjian cymbals too.
It was then I realized only the best, the greatest, play Zildjian.
Little did I know back then, this would never change.
This photo above is Buddy at Lennie’s. It may even be the show I was at. He played there a few times.
I took the program from that night up to him, ask him to sign it for me, he gave me that “Kid get the $*&# outta my way look”, but signed it anyway. He must have thought why the hell is this little kid here.
From what I remember, there weren’t too many 13 year olds in the audience.
I was in heaven.
He was my hero.
That signed program is long gone.
I recently bought myself this signed scrap of paper and some photos from a concert in Toronto back in 1971 for my collection.
Strange as a kid I was obsessed with what was then, and still now a big band jazz drummer like Buddy Rich.
My grandfather played the sax, loved big band music and jazz and would often play for me.
Maybe that’s where this connection to this kind of music came from.
But thinking back, it still seems kind of strange to me.
I eventually found out all my heroes played Zildjian cymbals.
Charlie Watts, Ginger Baker, Mitch Mitchell, some of the greatest drummers of our time and my life all played this brand.
And so I wanted to play them as well.
I took drum lessons for years, had recitals, my song was “Watermelon Man” by Herbie Hancock.
I eventually was able to play by ear, pick up the beat of a song by listening to it a few times, started my own band, jammed with friends through high school, but never became the drummer I wanted to be.
So I sold my drums, cymbals and all and headed off to art school in 1973.
Looking back, probably a smart move.
Here’s a drum head with the name of my high school band, Sponge Armor.
Recreated by my daughter, Alyssa.
Fast forward 37 years, and now this brand is back in my life.
Damn, it feels good.
But what makes this even better today, are the amazing people I’ve met at Zildjian over the course of this relationship.
Here’s a picture of Ringo’s concert used drumsticks from his Boston show.
A gift to me from John DeChristopher, Vice President Artist Relations & Event Marketing Worldwide at Zildjian.
Here he is with “you know who” the night of the show.
Doesn’t get any better than this does it?