RS transparentthe official blog of the Percussive Arts Society

  • In Memoriam: Joe Calato

    by Hillary Henry | Sep 04, 2023

    Joe CalatoJoseph “Joe” D. Calato, founder of the drumstick company Regal Tip, died on September 1, 2023, at age 102.

    Born in 1921 in Niagara Falls, New York (where he lived his whole life), Joe D. Calato followed in his father's footsteps. "My father was a pit drummer in the days of vaudeville,” he said. “I started to play when I was 13 years old.” He studied engineering at the University of Buffalo and then joined the Air Force in 1942, serving as a lieutenant and navigator on a B-17 bomber. Stationed mainly in England during World War II, Calato found many opportunities to play drums in military jazz groups and dance bands. 

    Joe was not only a talented drummer, but also a skilled cabinet maker. He invented the nylon tip drumstick, which led to the founding of the Regal Tip brand. "At that time, I couldn't afford to buy drumsticks,” he recalled. “Top [ride] cymbals would wear out the tips of the sticks. I used to keep a piece of sandpaper handy to sand the tips down and then dip them into fingernail polish to put a coating on them. When they were dry, I'd use that pair again. One day I thought I should try to put a plastic tip on the stick. So I got a screwdriver with a yellow plastic handle, cut out a piece, whittled out a tip, and stuck it on a stick."

    Brushes became another of Regal Tip's innovations. "In my early years," Calato recalled, "brushes were a big part of drumming. I never thought there was a good brush on the market, and I always wanted to make brushes. So I acquired the brush equipment from C. Bruno & Son in exchange for selling them sticks. We turned the brush business around. The brushes we developed and perfected have been copied even more than the nylon-tip sticks." 

    The first Regal Tip brushes with a wood handle were introduced in 1962, and the company patented retractable-handle brushes in 1975. Blasticks was added to the line in 1982.

    Calato was the recipient of many awards, including the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame, Buffalo Music Hall of Fame, and Niagara Falls Hall of Fame, as well as a Lifetime Achievement Award.

    Read Joe Calato’s PAS Hall of Fame profile at

  • In Memoriam: Pete Magadini

    by Hillary Henry | Aug 15, 2023

    Drummer, educator, and author Peter Magadini died on August 13, 2023.

    Magadini was widely known for his interest and expertise in polyrhythms as applied in western music and drumset. He published two major works on the subject: Polyrhythms for the Drumset and Polyrhythms: The Musicians Guide (first published in two volumes in 1967), which Modern Drummer magazine ranked sixth in their survey of "The 25 Best Drum Books.” In 2012 he published The Official 26 Polyrhythm Rudiments.

    Pete was born January 25, 1942 in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. When he was six, his family moved to Palm Springs, California, where he played in the elementary school band, and he then attended high school in Phoenix, Arizona. In 1960 Magadini studied drumset with Roy Burns at the Henry Adler Drum School in New York City. He studied timpani with Roland Kohloff at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, graduating with a Bachelor of Music degree in 1965. During his time in San Francisco he formed a trio with keyboardist George Duke and performed with the Oakland Symphony Orchestra.

    In 1968, Magadini was awarded a fellowship to perform with The Berkshire Music Festival Orchestra at Tanglewood. The next year he taught drums at the Professional Drum Shop in Los Angeles and played with the Don Menza quartet. Magadini toured with Bobbie Gentry through 1969 before joining Diana Ross's band. After touring with Ross from 1970 to 1971, he attended the University of Toronto, receiving a Master of Music degree in 1973.

    In 1976 he produced the recording Polyrhthym, featuring George Duke, Don Menza, and Dave Young. His second album, Bones Blues, received a Juno Award nomination for Best Jazz Album of the Year in 1979. Magadini performed with and produced recordings for blues-jazz vocalist Mose Allison, and he also played with Al Jarreau, Buddy DeFranco, and John Handy, and was the drummer for the Montreal run of Les Miserables.

    From 1988 to 1997, he taught at McGill University and Concordia University in Montreal, and at the Brubeck Institute of the University of the Pacific from 2003 to 2007. He also maintained a private teaching practice in the California Bay Area.

  • In Memoriam: Ian Turnbull

    by Rhythm Scene Staff | Jun 13, 2023

    Ian TurnbullBy Lauren Vogel Weiss

    Ian Turnbull, winner of the first PAS Outstanding Chapter President’s award in 1991 for his leadership in Ontario, Canada, passed away on May 26, 2023 at the age of 92. As his obituary in the London Free Press stated, “Music was his life.”

    Turnbull was born in Worcester, England on November 6, 1930 to parents of Scottish descent. He joined the British Army Band as a “Boy Entrant” at the age of 15, serving in Europe, the Far East, and the Caribbean until 1957. The following year, Turnbull emigrated to Canada, where he joined the Band of Her Majesty’s Canadian Guards and attained the rank of Principal Percussionist. In 1963, he transferred to the Band of the Royal Canadian Regiment where he served for seven years before transferring to the (then) National Band of the Canadian Forces in 1970. After three decades of service, Turnbull retired from the military in 1976.

    While serving with the Band of the Royal Canadian Regiment (1963–70), Turnbull was also the Principal Percussionist with the London (Ontario) Symphony Orchestra. “We were renamed the Orchestra London Canada after some confusion with the ‘other’ orchestra of the same name!” he explained during a 2006 interview. “In 1964, I established the percussion department at the University of Western Ontario (UWO) and served on the Faculty of Music.” He held that position until 1970.

    Following his military retirement, Turnbull managed the Belle Air Music Company in London from 1977 until 1995. Upon his “second retirement,” Belle Air Music established the annual Ian Turnbull Award for percussionists at UWO. He was also named to the Mayor of London’s New Year’s Honors List in 1988 for promoting music in the region.

    Turnbull became the founding president of the Ontario PAS Chapter in 1980. (Prior to that, there had been one chapter representing all of Canada. Ontario was the first province to establish its own chapter.) He organized the first OPAS Day of Percussion held at UWO in London in April 1981. A decade later, Turnbull presided over the Tenth Anniversary of the Ontario Chapter with a three-day “Celebration of Drums” at UWO. He also served 14 years on the PAS Board of Directors (1986–93 and 1996–2001). Turnbull received the Outstanding PAS Service Award at PASIC 2001 in Nashville for his significant contributions to the society.

    Turnbull was instrumental in creating the Sabian/PASIC Scholarship, which enables a Canadian percussion major to attend the annual international percussion convention, and he administered the scholarship for over 27 years. In 2005, Turnbull received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Sabian.

    “One of the first smiling, welcoming faces that greeted me during my first PASIC experience in 1985 was that of Ian Turnbull,” remembers world-renowned solo percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie. “Although the conference focused on all things percussive, Ian showed the true essence of such an event — making solid connections, friends, and memories that lasted a lifetime. Ian was a great listener, and within the high energy and clamor of such a conference, his pleasant and kind demeanor softened any sound tsunami. Ian was much loved by so many, and I, for one, feel very grateful for the special memories he created in my life.”

    Ian Turnbull was predeceased in 1995 by his first wife, Eve, and is survived by his second wife, Joan Hysen Turnbull.

    Author’s note: I first met Ian through the PAS Chapter Presidents meeting at PASIC. He taught me so many things about being a chapter president, from organizing events to dealing with percussionists on all levels. I was honored to succeed him as the second recipient of the Outstanding Chapter President award and always tried to abide by the high standards that he established. But most of all, it was a privilege to call him a friend for over thirty years.

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