Robert Zildjian (14 July 1923 – 27 March 2013) was the founder of Sabian Cymbals, the 2nd largest manufacturer of cymbals in the world. Zildjian was born in Boston, Massachusetts and belonged to the Zildjian family, which brought the technology of cymbal making from their ancestral homeland in the capital city of modern Turkey to the United States by Armenian Avedis Zildjian, and then passed it on to future generations of family members. The company was founded in 1981 in Meductic, New Brunswick, Canada, by Robert Zildjian, son of Avedis Zildjian III, the head of the Avedis Zildjian Company located in Quincy, Massachusetts.
Family tradition had it that the head of the company would pass its secrets down only to the oldest son, but Avedis III gave the information to both his sons, Armand and Robert. A family feud resulted in Robert leaving Zildjian to form the rival Sabian Cymbals company. The companies continue to be rivals, and are both among the world’s most popular cymbal brands. Sabian cymbals have been used by many famous drummers in the world, including Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Neil Peart of Rush, and drumming legend Mike Portnoy, formerly of progressive metal giants Dream Theater. Zildjian remained active in management until recently, spending most of the summer in a cottage in Meductic, New Brunswick near the main production facility. Sabian is an acronym based on the combination of his three children’s names, Sally, Bill, and Andy.
Robert Zildjian (14 July 1923 – 27 March 2013)