12 Nov 2002

Bygone times

Everyone was doing it! What made up a double 4 way PA. Where the RayLight came from. How the decade ended! This chapter in our growing history opus names some of the newly evolving regional players in the production industry. Those were the days, huh? There’s plenty of un-identified people for you to name. Email us!

By 1976, production had evolved to the stage where everyone was building PA systems – common names are Kosmic, Cord, Nova, Phoenix, Jands, and Wasp. The most-common touring PA systems were basically the same. Systems usually had 2 x 15 “W” bass bins, JBL 4560 (1 x 15 speaker) or Clair ‘Roy’ for low-mids, JBL 2482 or 2441 horn drivers (mid-highs) and ring radiators (tweeters) for highs. Power amps were likely to be Yamaha, SAE, Crown or BGW. Jands introduced the J-600 amplifier, which went on to be the most-popular amplifier ever built in Australia! Yamaha and Soundcraft were gaining market share with mixing consoles and Jands were making their own JM-series mixers. The Roland ‘Space Echo’ was the most popular effect unit made at the time. The Roland Corporation was producing graphic equalisers and in 1977, Ian Rumbold in Melbourne released what were to become classics, the Sound Developments range of crossovers and graphic equalisers.

Sometime in the mid seventies, Colin Baldwin purchased a SP-30 lighting desk from Strand and had them add ‘flash’ buttons and a pin matrix. This unit astounded competitors and allowed unprecedented control for operators. The development of purpose-built lighting systems had begun and the future was here! Baldwin formed an alliance with the fledgling ‘SOUNDS’ PA company in Sydney, which was using and representing Cerwin-Vega equipment. Their clients included Marcia Hines, Jon English and even AC/DC and The Saints!

Colin’s company Baldwin Lights went on to develop it’s own range of lighting desks affectionately known as Trogboards. Later Rock Industries Richard White, who built the first 60 channel Trogboard for Baldwin Lights would design and build desks for Jands Electronics.

Roger Barratt formed Barratt Lighting after buying Julius Grafton’s Zapco Lightshows. Barratt Lighting serviced the theatre industry and crossed over into rock – forming an alliance with Rock Industries and distributing its par cans and products. Julius was the general manager.

Jands released the classic JL36 desk – the first mass produced, dedicated ‘rock’ lighting desk, which became an immediate success. It was the standard touring lighting desk for years to come. Jands then introduced the Aurora, the first automated desk of its kind.

In 1978, the 12″ box truss and winch-up stand was invented by either Phil Salmon, or Richard White’s Rock Industries (depending on which legend you listen to!). Rock groups quickly found the load limits for both; a lot of falling metal hit polished dance floors!

Lasers became an entertainment effects device.

The 500-watt Ray Light (and the Par 36 pin spot) was invented by Ray Hawkins who was the LD for The Angels. Rock Industries built thousands of Pin Spots and Ray Lights. Ray now works in the lighting dept at the Sydney Opera House.

Jands introduced the JM5 12 channel audio mixer, which along with the JM6 (16 channel) went on to become a hit with local bands and installations. The quality choice was a Yamaha PM 1000 which cost 7 times more.

Mick Privitera established Musicians Pro Shop in Brisbane, the precursor to Australian Concert Productions.

Balance Sound was established in Melbourne by Ernie Rose and Michael Wickow. It later became Troy Balance Corporation.

In 1979 Artist Concert Tours formed an association with Bronco Sound in Sydney. Bronco owner, Peter Ratcliffe had been in partnership with Colin Baldwin under the name of Baldrat Productions. Ratcliffe became A.C.T (N.S.W.) Local bands such as The Radiators, Sunnyboys, Jimmy and the Boys and Dragon became customers and the hire scene in Sydney was extremely competitive.

Also in 1979, Michael White expanded his operations at Sound On Stage to include PA hire. Already having a thriving backline hire section and retail shop, Michael hired double 4-way JBL rigs with Yamaha power amps driving them.

The decade finished with the arrival of the Clair Brothers S4 speaker box, of which 16 were purchased by ACT in Melbourne. This box was to become a mainstay of the touring sound industry for over 20 years! Jands answered the need for a ‘one box’ flown modular PA by creating the Concord – a horn loaded four way loudspeaker cabinet designed by denim legend and belt buckle collector, Howard Page. Howard now works in a senior role for Clair Brothers, and engineers acts like Phil Collins and The Bee Gees.






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