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Remembering Keith Dale

Remembering Keith Dale

UK – 10K Used Gear has announced the passing of its co-founder Keith Dale who lost his battle with cancer on 29th October 2020. He was 61.

Keith began his career as a lighting designer in the early 1980s working for bands such as Haircut 100, Culture Club and mostly for Joe Jackson with whom he kept in touch with until the end. Keith then joined forces with Tim Bridle, Andy Reed and Matt Deakin to form Celco, a leading force in lighting control in the 1980s.

“I guess it must have been late 1980 or early '81 when Keith first came to our shop in Surbiton to show us his new lighting console,” said John Lethbridge whose company Cerebrum Lighting was Celco’s distributor back in the day. “I cannot remember if it was the prototype Gamma 300D or an earlier desk with a pin matrix, but I do know that the first time we showed the Gamma 300D was at Showlight '81 at The Barbican, London.

“Keith was a guy always ahead of the curve when it came to technology. He was the first LD I saw use colour semaphore units on a rock show with Joe Jackson. He was also the first person to introduce me to email, as that was how we kept in touch when he was on a world tour.

“In the early days, we made the mistake of focusing too much on the rental houses. It was Keith who was the person to recognise that we should be targeting the top lighting designers, rather than the rental houses. Our big break came when we went to visit ex-Yes lighting designer, Michael Tait at his Tait Towers rehearsal studios in Lititz, Pennsylvania. Michael was a former console designer himself and he was putting together a Whitney Houston tour with Allen Branton as LD. We persuaded him to take a Celco console on the tour and Allen Branton loved it, so much that he subsequently specified two Celco Golds on the David Bowie 'Glass Spider' tour.

“Keith had been spot on. Once Allen put the supply for the tour out to bid, every leading lighting company in the USA was on the phone to us.”

Celco became Cerebrum Lighting's biggest product range ever, bringing in £1.6 million revenue in 1987.

“I last spoke to Keith in June when he confided in me about his illness but he seemed fairly confident that it was being managed,” added John. “I was devastated when I heard he had left us. We were friends for 40 years and he will be very much missed.”

After leaving Celco, Keith was international sales and marketing manager for Elektralite, the lighting control division of the US firm Group One Ltd.

In 2008 Keith joined forces with 10K assisting Garry Nelsson to develop the market for new and pre-owned lighting and sound equipment.

“Keith and I developed a very strong bond over the years,” commented Garry. “He became my best friend as well as an inspiration. He was incredibly positive until the end encouraging all those around him with patience and skill. He leaves a huge hole, impossible to fill. Miss you already, Special K!”

Keith is survived by his wife Irena and children Joanna and Tom.

Keith was known for always being friendly, warm, and knowledgeable as well as a perfect gentleman. We couldn’t find a serious current business photo of Keith, they all featured Keith smiling and usually with a beer in his hand. Perfect.

In picture: Keith with his son Thomas who has followed in his father’s footsteps working at 10K Used Gear.

16th November 2020

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