By Zoro "What you leave behind in not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others." ~ Pericles
Vic Firth was an American classic and a visionary who exemplified that great American indomitable spirit. A courageous forerunner who followed his dream against all odds, Vic made an indelible mark on the world of percussion unlike any other and changed the world in the process. He was an incredibly talented man, but as amazingly gifted as Vic was, his talent was not the greatest thing about him.
The real legacy of a person’s life will be how many lives were positively affected by their life. This is about much more than mere talent and position. In actuality, it comes down to the way one lives, and the way someone of stature makes others feel in their presence. Vic’s talent, platform, and position of influence inspired and impacted a multitude of people simply because he was a good man who walked in humility, always recognizing the importance of lifting up others.
When I was a young man in the late 70s I wrote to the Vic Firth drumstick company. Much to my surprise Vic himself took the time to answer my questions in the form of a handwritten letter. I still have that letter to this day and cherish it with all my heart. It serves as a reminder of the kind of man Vic was. It also helped to formulate in my heart what kind of man I hoped to one day be myself. No doubt every CEO in the world is busy, but Vic took the time to stoop down to a lowly young unknown kid, and that effort graced by his personal touch impacted me greatly. From the moment I received his letter I set my heart on one day becoming a Vic Firth endorser when I was worthy.
I started endorsing Vic Firth drumsticks in 1985 and began a 30-year fruitful relationship that continues to this day. Vic always made me feel welcomed, encouraged, but mostly loved. He also never failed to have a kind and encouraging word for me, and faithfully supported all I endeavored to do. Throughout those years we successfully collaborated on numerous projects for which we shared a mutual passion, and I look back fondly on each one with a great sense of pride and gratitude.
Though Vic was clearly a very accomplished man, he never put out that arrogant, haughty, prideful and competitive spirit that is so commonplace in today’s world. Vic always made himself accessible and took the time to pose for pictures with his fans. Proof of his generous spirit is evidenced by the multitude of photos, which circulate the social media networks with Vic and fellow fans.
Vic Firth helped to unify the world through the power of music, education, encouragement, and love, and he left the world a far better place than he found it. There is no doubt his influence will be felt around the world from generation to generation, and deservedly he’ll go down in the annals of percussion history as one of the greats!
When I reflect on the legacy of Vic Firth I am reminded of the words that Pericles, the ancient Greek statesmen and general once uttered, “What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.” Theologian Charles Spurgeon summed up how I feel about Vic when he said, “A good character is the best tombstone. Those who loved you and were helped by you will remember you when the forget-me-nots have withered. Carve your name on hearts, not marble.”
Baseball great Jackie Robinson once mused, “A life is not important expect in the impact it has on other lives.” Well if that’s the standard, then it’s safe to say that the life of Vic Firth was a very important one! It’s been one of the great honors and privileges of my life to call Vic Firth a friend, and I will remain forever grateful for his generous spirit and the time we spent together.
In closing, I would simply like to say my dapper friend Vic Firth, thank you so very much for being the maverick and patriarch you were, for believing in me, for making my life better, and for all you did for the drum community. You ran the race of life well, and carved your name in the hearts of all those who came across your path. In the process, you left a unique thumbprint on the earth that will not be duplicated. You will be sorely missed, but thankfully you left so many of us with a lifetime full of beautiful memories, and for that, we in the world of percussion are grateful!
With love, respect and gratitude,
Your friend Zoro