With deep sorrow, Sabian has announced the death of Robert “RZ” Zildjian, its Founder and leader. A tireless and dynamic force within the drum industry, he inspired, the Sabian family said, each one of them to work harder, to reach farther and to make a difference, leading by example. Robert (Bob) Zildjian was the descendant of 10 generations of Armenian cymbal makers. His father, Avedis Zildjian, emigrated to Boston from Turkey in the early 1900s. In 1928, his great-uncle Aram also came to Boston, bringing with him the family process and trade secrets in metalworking and cymbal-making. Together, they set up the Avedis Zildjian Company, where they began manufacturing cymbals for the rest of the world.
In 1979, at the age of 90, Avedis Zildjian died. In keeping with family tradition, he left the entire business to his two sons, Bob and Armand. As the eldest son, Armand inherited the controlling share. Unfortunately, it was a partnership that would not last, as the brothers quarreled. Bob opened a brand new cymbal company in 1981, called Sabian. The name is an acronym formed from the first two letters of the names of his children: Sally, Bill and Andy. It was a huge challenge, and not one that many men would have chosen to take on. At the age of 57, he was faced with having to build a brand new cymbal company and to compete against an established name. Sabian thrived under Zildjian’s direction. He had the ability to bring out the best in people. Employees, dealers and musicians alike were honored to be associated with him.
Zildjian would be on the receiving end of many awards throughout his illustrious life, but he was most proud of the two bestowed by his adopted province of New Brunswick, the place he chose to build his legacy. First was the 2009 New Brunswick Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame Award, which honored the brightest business minds in the province while raising money for Junior Achievement programs. And the second was the honorary degree he received from the University of New Brunswick in 2010.
“I’d like to be the best cymbal company in the world,” said Bob Zildjian in an early Sabian interview. “I’m not that worried about being the biggest. But if we are the biggest, that’s good, too. But being the best is primary…that’s my motivation.”