Remo Belli – Industry Icon – 1929 – 2016
The music products industry is mourning an icon with the passing of Remo Belli this week, aged 88. Like many in our industry, He was the founder and CEO of Remo. He did not have a high ‘public’ profile, but his name is synonymous with music, particularly drums and percussion. He is a legend in our industry – he revolutionised drumming with the invention and eventual mass production of the synthetic drum head.
Remo was a professional drummer and rose to prominence during the WWII years, and he opened a drum store in LA in 1950 called Music City – it was adjacent that he started making the Remo Weather King drum head. It’s mass production capabilities enabled drum manufacturers to meet the new demand of the rock n roll era, as previously used calf hide could not keep up.
I remember the Recreational Music Centre he established in Thousand Oaks, Ca., where sometimes hundreds would assemble to play all sorts of percussion and rhythm instruments – they visualized, meditated, and learned, while improving their general well-being. Remo was committed to the inherent good there was in making music, particularly hitting things. A colleague told me. “I recall spending a few hours with him at the drum center in Hollywood just after he had produced several new, huge, hanging and mounted (on wheels) drums – and we stood together in front of one as he in-toned it (hardly a hit!) – and his words were “this is the vibration of our core selves”.
Remo was the type that you think would always be there. When you do for the world of music what he did, there’s just no time to ‘retire’. I was fortunate to know him; he had a big impact on me when we worked hard on Recreational Music Making as a concept over a decade ago. The AMA is about to embark on a program to share Remo’s vision with the support of his colleagues at NAMM.
Remo told me he loved Australia. He toured here as a pro drummer in his early days, and he had many business colleagues and friends, who would be very sad at his passing.
He lived so well and made such a difference. Our condolences to his wife, Ami, family and countless admirers.
Also an interview on the NAMM Oral History channel https://www.namm.org/library/oral-history/remo-belli