John DeChristopher is one of the good guys.
We’ve known each other for several years now.
We met when John was head of Artist Relations at Zildjian and I was the Creative Director on the Zildjian account when the company I’m now at was working as their advertising agency.
John wasn’t our direct contact, but he was involved peripherally. We worked with Brad Baker who was the CMO at the time and also John Sorenson. A killer team at Zildjian. Great people who helped us produce great work.
John was always supporting our work and our efforts.
He was a real fan.
Over the years we continued to stay in touch.
Which in itself is a challenge these days. It’s so easy to be lazy and forget our connections.
It takes work.
We attended several concerts and shows together.
Most were invites from him.
Getting me backstage access, and often the chance to meet some of my drumming heroes. Max Weinberg of the famed E Street Band, Steve Gorman of The Black Crowes, Gregg Bissonette from Ringo’s All-Starr Band. And yes, even Ringo himself. Why?
No real reason.
Just because he knew I was a huge music fan and would enjoy and cherish the experience.
He was right.
He expected nothing in return.
It had been a few years since I had done work for Zildjian.
He had since left his position there.
Over the summer John and I attended Ringo’s show in Providence and got to hang with the man himself backstage before the show. It was Father’s Day. (No pic sorry)….Guests of Gregg Bissonette, Ringo’s drummer and Jeff Chonis, Ringo’s long time drum tech since 1989, and John.
John has been friends with Gregg and Jeff for many, many, years. Working with them both while at Zildjian.
There were a few times Ringo would wander over and chat with us. He showed us a Jib Jab video his daughter had sent him for Father’s Day. I’m standing next to him thinking, WTF?!?!? Is that Ringo beside me? Just plain surreal.
I’ve met so many people through John I’ve lost count. Seems everyone I’m connected to these days in the music business knows John.
Friends through Facebook like Yard Gavrilovic, Owner at The Vintage DrumYard in the UK.
Donn Bennett of Bennett Drums in Bellevue, WA. http://bennettdrums.com/
Harry McCarthy, Owner at Drum Paradise Nashville Inc.
Harry and I as well as some of the “E Street Crew” got to hang at a Celtics game when Harry was teching for Max Weinberg and Bruce came through Boston on the Wrecking Ball tour. (My all access pass.) Harry is a huge Rajon Rondo fan. We both miss him.
Recently I had a chance to repay John for some of the incredible experiences he has shown me. He reached out to me and asked if I would help do some design work for his close friend and drumming legend Steve Gadd.
Steve was turning 70 this year and John was helping to celebrate his incredible career.
I mean, who wouldn’t do this?
I couldn’t say yes fast enough.
Of course John being John, never assumed I’d have the time or would even want to help.
He called and asked.
But that’s John, always the gentleman.
The work got done.
It was great.
It was a pleasure as always to work directly with John as well as Steve’s people.
And I was thrilled to be able to be involved in a project like this, and for a legend like Steve Gadd.
A few months passed and the effort was well underway.
The new year had come and John and I were emailing back and forth about grabbing dinner or lunch. Then I get a text.
“Gary, you got a minute for a quick call?” Ten minutes later my phone rings and John says someone wants to say hello.
It was Steve Gadd.
John was talking with him and he thought it would be cool to connect us two.
Steven thanked me for all the work I did.
So what’s the point of this story?
After all John has done for me he owes me nothing. I could work for him for the next 5 years and still never give back for what he’s given and shown me.
The point is these are the people who deserve our time.
So many folks ask for our help, guidance and expertise. And as we all know these days, time is precious. I get literally dozens and dozens of requests for marketing, advertising and design help every single day. Hundreds over the course of a year. Most, if not all, for free. I give as much and as often I can. I rarely say no.
Sadly few ever really appreciate the effort and time involved. Even fewer recognize the value. Few ever give back. Sometimes if I’m lucky, maybe an email thanking me. Usually, not much more.
Which is kind of sad.
He’s gets it. He gives back.
He loves, cares, values and truly appreciates his friends. That’s why we love him. A small gesture like a phone call from the person you helped out, makes a huge difference.
Let’s root for John’s success. (Not that he needs it mind you.)
Thanks buddy. I’m better for knowing you.
Here’s a bit of background on John and what he’s up to now.
Artist Representation for Steve Gadd, Peter Erskine & Rick Marotta.
President/CEO Viper Representation. Artist Representation, Consultant, Music Industry Veteran
Previously: Vice President, Artist Relations & Event Marketing Worldwide
Avedis Zildjian Company
May 1989 – January 2013
Responsibility for management of Zildjian’s Artist Program for Cymbals & Drumsticks, and Event Marketing, including Producing and Directing two Zildjian Drummer Achievement Awards, industry events such as PASIC, MD Festival, Montreal DrumFest, and six “Mission From Gadd” tours around the world. Coordinated and Tour Managed over 30 Zildjian clinic tours with various artists. Managed a staff of five, including satellite offices in London and Los Angeles.Developed Zildjian’s “Artist Sessions” annual artist gatherings in London, NY and LA, later expanded to other markets. Responsible for writing artist contracts, oversaw all artist signings and personal contact for Marquee Artists: Ringo Starr, Charlie Watts, Steve Gadd, Tony Williams, Peter Erskine, Vinnie Colaiuta, Roy Haynes, Elvin Jones, Simon Phillips, Brian Blade, Carter Beauford, Dennis Chambers, Joey Kramer, Mike Mangini, Steve Smith, Keith Carlock, Anton Fig, Shawn Pelton, Max Weinberg, Sheila E., Questlove and more.1990-1996: Product Manager Drumsticks & Director of Artist Relations. Designed top selling Zildjian drumstick models and developed Zildjian’s Artist Series signature drumsticks in 1991, elevating Zildjian to a legitimate brand in the drumstick market. *Signed Ringo Starr signature drumstick.Involved in many aspects of Zildjian’s business, including advertising, promotions, product placement, Marketing Communications, Public Relations, web content, social media, Education, product development/R&D.In 2002 Produced and Directed Zildjian’s A Custom 10th Anniversary video featuring Vinnie Colaiuta. In 2003 Produced Zildjian’s Drummers Achievement Awards honoring Armand Zildjian and Steve Gadd, hosted by Bill Cosby, with performances by James Taylor and Paul Simon. Produced Zildjian’s 2008 Drummer Achievement Awards in London honoring Ginger Baker, with appearances by Jack Bruce (Cream), Simon Phillips, Steve White, Keith Carlock, Tony Levin, Gary Husband, Bob Henrit and Charlie Watts.National Sales Manager/Artist Relations
October 1986 – May 1989
Responsible for Sales and Artist Relations for DW Hardware, US distribution for Dynacord Electronics and the launch of DW Drums in 1987.Sales/Artist Relations
Simmons Electronic Drums
August 1985 – October 1986Professional Drummer/Singer
March 1975 – August 1985Played drums professionally and performed throughout the New England area. I joined “Trigger” during my Freshman year in High School (March 1975) and recorded our first demo of original music as “Voyager” in 1979. We changed our name to “The Features” in 1980 and began performing mostly original music, headlining clubs and colleges in the Boston area and opening for some of Boston’s biggest acts. Through numerous personnel and name changes, the nucleus of the band performed until 1985.Drum Dept Manager
E.U. Wurlitzer Inc.
1979 – 1983
AwardsPercussive Arts Society (PAS) 2008 President’s Industry Award.President – Percussion Marketing Council (PMC) 2000-2002Member of Board of Directors for Drummers Collective, 2005-present.
Check out his page on Facebook.