William "Billy" Gladstone
by Frederick D. Fairchild
(b. Romania, December 15, 1893; d. October 1961)
Billy Gladstone was one of the finest percussionist of his time and was also a creative inventor and instrument builder. He played the major theaters in New York, finally reaching the pinnacle of his performing career at Radio City Music Hall where he played from 1932 through the 1940s. Gladstone was much admired as a technical and musical perfectionist as well as a fine teacher. Upon leaving the Radio City job, he continued to play, but he devoted much of his time to the manufacture of his legendary snare drums, sticks, and practice pads. His snare drums, much coveted today, were carefully crafted, with attention paid to specialized details. Few players in history had the talent, ability, and drive to perfect their art and the tools of their trade to the degree that Billy Gladstone was able to achieve.