Cymbal Manufacturer Robert Zildjian Passes Away at 89

Founder of globally renowned Sabian cymbals loses his long battle with cancer.

Ultimate Guitar

The drumming world has lost one of its giants as March 28 marked the passing of Robert Zildjian, founder of iconic Sabian Cymbal Company. After years of fighting cancer, Zildjian ultimately lost his battle with the disease, leaving behind his wife, three children and eight grandchildren. "It is with deep, deep sorrow that we announce the passing of Robert 'RZ' Zildjian, our beloved founder and leader. A tireless and dynamic force, he inspired each one of us in the Sabian family to work harder, to reach farther, to make a difference - and he led us by example. We mourn his passing, and we will miss him for a long time to come. But we are better people for having known RZ, and we are richer for having worked alongside him. We draw comfort from the knowledge that his spirit will live on in the music made by artists the world over. Rest in peace, RZ," stated the company in an official announcement. Zildjian founded Sabian cymbals in 1981 after a family dispute with his brother Armand has resulted in his departure from yet another iconic cymbal manufacturer company, Zildjian. The word Sabian stands as an abbreviation formed from the first two letters of the names of his three children - Sally, Bill and Andy. Some of the proud owners of Sabian cymbals include former Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy, Neil Peart of Rush, RHCPs Chad Smith, Terry Bozzio and legendary Billy Cobham. Robert Zildjian has changed the world of music as we know it and his legacy is likely to live on in the hands of musicians in the years to come. We have lost one of the true titans. Rest in peace Mr. Zildjian.

18 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Very sad, his legacy and impact on music is something that will live on forever.
    Interesting article. Too bad he died, but I never knew that about the Sabian name. Love those cymbals! RIP
    Sad news. He definitely left behind a legacy, and god knows how many of his cymbals my high school drumline has made music with. R.I.P.
    This should have been front page news, Sabian are some of the two most popular cymbal manufacturers and the man who founded them died. That's huge news.