The Company You Keep: The Epic Story of Zildjian Cymbals and Popular Music in America


Welcome to a very special episode of Deeper Digs in Rock, a production of the Rock N Roll Archaeology Project. This episode is a joint effort, created by the RNRAP team with the support of the great folks at the Avedis Zildjian Company - makers of Zildjian Cymbals.

The Zildjian story spans two continents and four centuries, but at its essence, it is an American story. So the show begins with the story of Zildjian’s move to America, in the closing years of the 1920s. This old-but-new American company has only been operating a few weeks when the Great Depression hits, but Zildjian somehow manages to survive, and eventually, to prosper.

Then to the origin: 1618, in what is now known as the city of Istanbul, Turkey. A young metalsmith has developed a secret bronze formula that produces high-quality cymbals with unique musical properties. The Sultan is impressed, commissions his work, and grants him a name.

Maker of cymbals: Avedis Zildjian. 

The Zildjian story takes us across oceans and continents, through centuries of history. We visit the great concert halls of Europe and Jazz nightclubs in Harlem. We hear whispers of palace intrigue and witness the rise and fall of empires; escape war and genocide, and endure economic hardship.

And through it all, through ingenuity and determination—and no small amount of luck—Zildjian continues on, making the world’s best cymbals and helping shape the story of popular music in America.

All the lines converge on February 9th, 1964, when The Beatles came to America. The Rock N Roll Era brings new challenges and opportunities to Zildjian.

The episode closes with a really fun, informative visit to the Zildjian facility in Norwell, Massachusetts. We meet some of the key people at Zildjian, and talk about what the next four hundred years might bring.

This one has it all: an epic story, great people, lots of music and some surprise special guests too!

Settle in, listen, and enjoy, then head over to for additional information on the history of Zildjian, their beautiful cymbals and this podcast.