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William Ludwig II,
‘The Chief’

William Ludwig II, known as ‘The Chief,’ passed away on March 22. He was 91 years old and had been in declining health.

Ludwig is remembered most notably for reclaiming the family drum company from C.G Conn Co., which his father had sold during the Great Depression. In 1955, Ludwig won the bid to buy back the Ludwig division and renamed it The Ludwig Drum Co.

Ludwig led his company through the British invasion of the 1960s, seizing the opportunity when Ringo Starr of The Beatles used Ludwig drums. At Starr’s insistence, the Ludwig name was prominently displayed on the bass drumheads, immediately above the Beatles’ logo. A long succession of celebrity endorsements followed, including Led Zeppelin’s drummer John Bonham.

Ludwig also expanded his company with the 1966 purchase of the Musser Marimba Co. — manufacturers of vibes, marimbas, bells, chimes and xylophones — and the acquisition of The Selmer Co. in 1981.

“We are so blessed to have known and worked with this powerhouse of a man for his vision, dedication and passion for percussion,” said Jim Catalano, director of marketing for Ludwig/Musser. “It is said that the greatest legacy that anyone can leave in this world is making a difference. Well, Bill Ludwig made a difference in our world of drums and percussion that is legendary, and we are all the heirs to his accomplishments.”