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Mike's Blog - Thank you Vic Firth 1930 - 2015

This month's blog comes with a tear in my eye and a very heavy heart, as on 27th July not only did the drum community lose an icon and a pioneer that every drummer/percussionist knows, but I lost a good friend.


What is a friend? For me it's somebody you can always rely on in good and bad times, somebody that you may only hear from or see a few times a year but you can just pick up from where you left off, Vic Firth was that person.

I first met Vic 30 years ago when I worked in a drum shop in North London, he was in London working with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and in his spare time would take an unannounced tour around the local Drum shops. I remember everybody in the drum store was very excited when they realised that Vic Firth was in the shop. Little did I know that 20 years later I would build a friendship with the great man himself. Many breakfasts, lunches and dinners were spent talking about the business and family and everything in between and Vic was always there for me with advice. If anybody knew what it was like to have your name across a drum company it would be Vic and he taught me to think of your name as a brand and not to take things personally.

Vic Firth with Geoff Dunn, Jojo Mayer and Billy Ward
At the UDE with Geoff Dunn, Jojo Mayer and Billy Ward

I have so many personal memories of Vic Firth that it was hard to think of just a couple to share:

Back in 2005 Vic came to the UK to be one of the judges on the Young Drummer of the Year final. Although the judges did not need to arrive until mid-day he insisted he came with everybody to help set up on the Sunday morning, he kept asking for a job to do and in the end was making tea and coffee for all the helpers! This just sums up the kind of man that Vic Firth really was.

Another time I was going for a trip with my father to Boston to visit the Vic Firth factory, as the plane came into Boston airport the last image I had on the plane TV screen was the Boston Symphony Orchestra with Vic Firth playing the Timpani. Vic was there to greet us and drive us the 4 hour journey to the factory, not many CEOs of a large, successful company would do that!

Vic Firth with Steve Smith, Mike Dolbear and Ralph Salmins
Steve Smith, Vic, Me and Ralph Salmins

Not only was Vic one of the finest timpanists in the world he also ran the biggest stick company in the world, he was an educator and the head of percussion at The New England Conservatory; a position he held for 44 years and taught Anton Fig, Harvey Mason and Kenny Aronoff.

My thoughts not only go out to Vic’ s immediate family and friends but also to the people who work for Vic Firth, some for many years and I know he will be missed deeply.

What Vic Firth achieved in his life will live on forever, thank you for your friendship Vic I will miss you but will never forget you.

Mike Dolbear

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