Profiles - A Light-Hearted Look at Industry Personalities
Vice President, Syncrolite
No. 99 in a continuing series
Jimmy Page happened to be in the right place at the right time in 1969. Concerts West, a national concert production company (Moody Blues, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Elvis, 3 Dog Night, Chicago, etc) had recently opened a Dallas office and needed a road promoter to handle one-offs. Enter Jimmy Page, two years on the road promoting concerts - what a gig! Sex, drugs and rock n roll!
After a 38 show in 42 day tour with Grand Funk Railroad, in the midwest and in the dead of winter, he decided he needed a new direction. Jack Calmes had recently formed Showco and needed a salesman who had contacts in the concert touring world. Little did Jimmy know that he would be the only salesman. Over the next six years Showco grew from a two-system sound company to a total production company providing, sound, lighting, staging, rigging, trucking, tour logistics and technicians. During the seventies Showco provided production for as many as 2,000 concerts/special events per year.
"Being the only salesman I kinda got burned out," says Jimmy. "I left Showco and returned to concert promotion in 1978. By this time lawyers and accountants had entered the picture. Promoting concerts wasn't as lucrative as the old days, and the risks were larger, but production had grown from one small bobtail truck to four or five semis, and artists had gone from flat fees to percentages. It just wasn't fun any more.
"Plus I had a run of bad luck, lost lots of money, went through a costly divorce, had a slight drug problem and needed a complete break from the rock n roll world. So, I put myself in what I call self-imposed drug rehab which entailed moving to my sister's ranch in east Texas and shovelling horse shit for a couple of years."
Luckily rehab worked. "I'm living proof of that," explains Jimmy. "I returned to the entertainment world in early 1985 when offered a management/booking position with a 1000-seat nightclub in Dallas. Soon I was booking four nightclubs in Dallas and managing Deep Ellum Live.
"Then, in 1991 Jack Calmes offered me a position as Vice President of Syncrolite - primarily to develop new markets for his moving light, the Mini-Arc. At that time there were only a tiny number of moving light companies in the world and Syncrolite was embroiled in law suit with Vari-Lite over patents. It wasn't a good time to be selling Syncrolites, but we made the best of it and sold around 1,000 Mini-Arcs worldwide.
"When things finally settled, Jack Calmes decided to change direction and focus our attention on developing large format intelligent lighting. We had some experience with Xenon lighting in 1992 when we won the contract to provide intelligent 7k searchlights for Expo 92 in Seville in Spain. I was Syncrolite project manager for Expo 92, and got to spend 10 months in Seville, the party capital of the world! Expo 92 was great for Syncrolite as we were paid quite handsomely and were able to hone our technical skills. The rest is history. Syncrolite has become the world leader in the field of xenon/large format lighting for concert tours, special events, sporting events, television and film."
People ask Jimmy when he is going to retire. "You don't retire from this business," he says. "You may slow down but you can't really retire - it's in your blood. This business has made it possible for me to travel the world, make friends all over the world, and make a good living to boot. I still look forward to going to work. What more could you want?
"When I'm not out on the road pushing Syncrolites I like to fish a little, read some, putter around in my yard and hang out with my 16-month-old granddaughter. And I spend a couple of weeks in June every year in southern Spain to rest and recover from the rock n roll road."
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