Herb Brochstein Collection MSS.0442
Herb Brochstein is recognized as a legendary performance artist on drums and an innovative Houston businessman. With his Palestinian immigrant parents, Mr. Brochstein and his four siblings resided at 2215 Chenevert St. in Houston. He first exhibited an interest in music at the age of 12 while he was attending Johnston Junior High School. He hoped to play clarinet in the school band, but the instrument was too expensive. His mother alternately bought him a snare drum that would suffice as a band instrument at less expense. Throughout his musical career he remained dedicated only to percussion instruments.
His interest in music was unique within the family. Unlike many other performing artists, he did not grow up in a musical environment. Despite this, he has reported that music was his primary interest; when other boys were thinking about cars, he was preoccupied with practicing the drums.
Through the years, Mr. Brochstein has contributed locally to the Houston community. He began teaching music in 1947 in Chicago. Upon his return to Houston, he promptly opened the Houston School of Music. The business failed within two years, but by then Mr. Brochstein had developed a devoted following of drum students. To his surprise in a very short time, he was able to pay off all his debts and begin selling drums. In this less direct way, Mr. Brochstein encouraged new drum students by providing equipment to local school districts at cost. He eventually was able to rent his family’s property at 2211 Chenevert St. to open Herby Brochstein’s Drum Studio and Shop. As the business grew, Mr. Brochstein moved to a building with more studio space on Caroline St. in Midtown Houston. In this new location, the business served multiple functions: teaching studios, repair shop and retail music store.
In 1968, much to the disappointment of the music community, Mr. Brochstein sold his music store. His resourcefulness led him to another avenue that allowed him to continue to be an influence in the music business. During his time selling music equipment, he discovered a superior drumstick made in Japan. After he located the manufacturer, he began importing the drumsticks to the United States. Mr. Brochstein went on to develop the business Pro-Mark. Pro-Mark manufactures and distributes the signature Japanese Oak drumsticks as well as other percussion products. Mr. Brochstein has told the story of a rumor among musicians in the late 60s that he was whittling his drumsticks late at night. In fact, there is some truth to the rumor in that Mr. Brochstein sent back the drumsticks three times to be customized to his specifications before he was satisfied with their design.
In the course of his career as a performance artist, Mr. Brochstein was involved with bands such as Ed Gerlach’s Big Band and the Gulf Coast Giants of Jazz. He worked with many other ‘jobbing’ bands as well. Individually he composed music and played percussion on television. His acquaintances and partners included Buddy Rich, Sid Catlett, Louis Bellson, Shelley Mann, Gene Krupa, Joe Morello, and Ed Shaunessey. In particular, it was Buddy Rich’s playing that impressed him.
Although Mr. Brochstein is no longer performing professionally, his business is still a large part of the music industry. Its offices and factory continue to operate as a family business in Houston, although the Pro-Mark company was purchased by D'Addario in 2011. Pro-Mark imports to 110 countries around the world. His products are endorsed by contemporary drummers such as Phil Selway of Radiohead, Phil Collins, Carter Buford of the Dave Mathews Band, Neil Peart of Rush, Simon Phillips, Ronnie Vannucci of The Killers and Jonny Quinn of Snow Patrol. His son Maury Brockstein is now President and owner of Pro-Mark as it continues to thrive.
Permission to publish or reproduce materials from the Herb Brochstein Collection must be obtained from the Houston Metropolitan Research Center or the appropriate copyright holder.
The Herb Brochstein Collection. Houston Metropolitan Research Center, Houston Public Library.
Donated by: Herb Brochstein, February 4, 1992.
Processed by: Charles Stephenson and Tammy Jordan, October 2006.
Detailed Description of the Collection