Remembering Mark Nelson

Former Roland, DW and Guitar Center executive Mark Nelson has passed away.

Mark retired from Roland earlier this year, with his family revealing that he had been battling pancreatic cancer since 2021.

A statement from the family says:

“The world lost a wonderful person on Tuesday, October 17, 2023, and we will never be the same without Mark Steven Nelson in our lives. It’s not often that life brings us someone as special as Mark, and we feel fortunate to have known him when he was with us.”

The family notes that through his faith and with extensive medical expertise, Mark’s life was extended far beyond expected norms. “We feel at peace knowing he is now cancer-free and celebrating his eternal life in heaven, jubilantly playing golf and drums,” the family statement continues.

Mark Nelson is survived by his children, Andrew (39), Lange (32), Kai (30) and Keely (23) and his wife, Elise.

I met Mark at NAMM shortly after he joined Roland and was struck by his warmth and keen interest in others.

During his time with Roland, Mark was instrumental in guiding the direction and development of the company’s Electronic Percussion and Accessories divisions, helping strengthen its existing relationships within the channel and expanding Roland’s reach and penetration into new markets.

“Mark was not just a colleague for us, but a friend to many,” says Manuele Barbini, CEO of Roland Americas. “He truly embodied what it meant to be a leader with his dedication, professionalism, and unwavering positivity. He was someone always happy to lend a helping hand or offer a kind word. Roland, and the whole MI industry, will sorely miss him and the impact he made.”

Prior to joining Roland, Mark’s previous management positions included executive vice president – global sales and marketing for Drum Workshop, Inc.; senior vice president global percussion for KMC Music (Gretsch, LP, Toca, Gibraltar, Kat); and vice president merchandise – drums, general accessories, media for Guitar Center.

Additionally, he was an accomplished musician who had recorded/played drums on 10 albums and two movie soundtracks with various artists including Nick Gilder and Ian Matthews. Mark also made three appearances on American Bandstand and featured in six music videos.

Industry tributes continue to flow onto his LinkedIn feed, with former colleagues describing

Mark as “a kind, talented, positive force in our industry”.

Another tribute calls him “a wonderful man, musician and artist (who) inspired so many”.

A former colleague at Fender recalls “our late nights in KMC office as he would play the drums”.

Mark’s passing is described by another former co-worker as “a huge loss for his family, friends and musical community”.

-Allan Leibowitz

One thought on “Remembering Mark Nelson

  1. Rest in Peace Mark . My brother has been in remission from pancreatic cancer for only a couple of years . We hope and pray but we know hiw deadly this disease is. It has taken several dear friends, and relatives of mine!

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