History of Reed Making Born in Italy, Joseph Rico (1876-1957) attended seminary school near Naples, where he showed special talent for music. As a teenager, he and his brother, Libereto, ran away from seminary school one night, embarked on a ship, and fled to America where they heard there was a world of opportunity for eager minds. Joseph was a harpist, pianist, and guitarist, and his brother was a mandolinist and violinist. As a result of their hard work, both musicians became quite well known in Chicago and New York. Joseph Rico started composing and conducting, and went on to Paris where he became a sought-after composer. His Valses Lentes are still played today. In 1926, Joseph's nephew, Frank De Michele, a clarinetist with Walt Disney studios, wrote to him complaining about how hard it was to find good reeds in Los Angeles. He wrote: "Uncle Joe, you are so well established in the musical scene in Paris, I'm sure you could find all kinds of good reeds for me." Joseph easily found reeds to send him, however three weeks later, Frank wrote again: "My friends liked the reeds you sent so much; I have none left for myself. Could you please send me more?" After a series of similar letters, Joseph's reed supplier regrettably explained that he could no longer provide reeds due to a cane shortage. His nephew asked Joseph if he could at least send some cane so that he could try making his own reeds. Joseph had a vacation cottage in the Var region of southern France where he found excellent reed cane. In 1928, Joseph Rico sent the first shipment of 350 kilos of reed cane to America. To honor his uncle, Frank asked if he could use his name to launch his first reed line named "Rico." Soon thereafter, Frank De Michele found four partners, including musician and engineer Roy J. Maier, to create the first Rico reed factory.

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