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April 29, 1942 to July 28, 2022
Peter George Wilson was regarded by the Australian live production sector as its best electrician.
For over 55 years, Peter who was also a lighting designer, was the go-to-guy by big players as Dainty Corporation, Artist Concert Tours and Jands.
“He was very very good at what he did,” asserts Bill McCartney, another high achiever.
In the ‘60s, Bill was crewing for the likes of Zoot and Lotus before heading to America to work with Elvis Presley, Lou Reed and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Peter was doing lights for half a dozen nightclubs, carting his assortment of mirror balls, colour wheels, and lighting effects he devised.
Adds Tom Orchard, founder of Zap Lighting, “As an electrician everyone would say he was the best there ever was.
“I got the feeling he knew a lot more than most people realised. He’d just come in and do it.”
McCartney emphasises what a hard worker Peter was, juggling full-time as a maintenance electrician at Cabrini hospital and at the Palais.
But he was on top of his game. “If Peter said he’d take care of something, you knew it’d be taken care of. He was 100% reliable.”
ARCA co-founder Adrian Anderson agrees: “Totally reliable. If he said he’d pick you up at 5 am at your place, he’d be there at 5. Not 4.59 or 5.01.”
As an example of his work ethic, Adrian relates how Peter was asked to work with a pre-fame Bee Gees’ residency in a Sydney club.
“Every day he’d finish his day job and fly to Sydney to do the Gibbs. He’d catch the first plane back to Melbourne, and then come up again the next day. This went on for weeks.”
Peter attended Collingwood Tech, and prided himself more in the fact he was a certified electrician than someone in the music industry.
He thought crewing was inconsistent work, and would warn young newcomers not to take out loans and ensure they put at least 70% of their earnings in the bank and save for a house.
“He was my mentor,” says Orchard. “The biggest advice he gave me was something I thankfully ignored – and that was not to get into the music industry but just do it as a hobby!”
Ironically Peter got Tom into the business. Tom was 16 when a mate’s band needed a lighting guy. The mate knew Peter from Scouts.
Peter taught Tom to do lights. “I ended up doing lights for other bands, using his gear and getting my own.
“We lived near each other. If he needed a hand, he’d call on me. After the show we’d go back to his mum’s and cook up raisin toast…those were nice!”
Peter was involved in some major shows, and earned a reputation for meeting challenges.
At a KISS show at VFL Park in Glen Waverly which needed extra power, he organised with the State Electricity Commission to supply huge cables which came on a massive drum, which he ran to the centre of the ground.
In 1988 for Soundcloud in Sydney for the Australia Bicentenary, he worked for three weeks setting up 33 generators around the Harbour, making the switching gear himself.
Orchard recalled the time Peter got a call at the Cabrini from road crew friends in New Zealand struggling with a sound problem.
“Peter in his overalls hopped on a plane with his tool box as a carry-on, flies to New Zealand and fixes it. He knew instinctively what had to be done. He then flew back.”
In his Roadies book, Stuart Coupe related a rain-drenched ABBA show at the Showgrounds when Peter went up the towers to hook up the power.
Promoter Michael Chugg and Jands’ Eric Robinson walking below saw a blue flash going up the pole.
They couldn’t find him. He’d been thrown 2.5 metres. When they ran over, Peter, who had a pronounced stutter, exclaimed, “D-d-did you f-f-fucking see t-t-that?”
Two stories associated with Wilson have done the crew rounds for ages.
When Pope John Paul II arrived at the MCG, he saw a roadie on his knees rolling up electrical cords, walked over, looked down and said, “Bless you my son.”
Another was apparently during a Rolling Stones show, and a tired and irritable Peter found a quiet place to have his lunch.
Mick Jagger interrupted with a question. “Piss off Mick!” he snapped, chewing on his sandwich.
Bill: “I hadn’t heard that story. But with Peter you got what you saw. He didn’t suffer fools easily.”
Tom: “If that was true, it wouldn’t surprise me. That was Peter.”
Like most in crew circles, Peter was known for always lending a hand and saying yes to charity work.
His death from kidney failure took friends by surprise.
He never drank or smoked. He kept fit with 20 mile walks. He never married but was close to his family. He love attending steam rallies and journeying on trains through North America and Europe.
Peter George ‘PPPeter’ Wilson will be laid to rest on 9.30 am on Monday August 8 at at Stratus Chapel, Bunurong Memorial Park, 790 Frankston Dandenong Road.
“Travel safely old mate”
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