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Bill McManus...RIP...

Discussion in 'News' started by wolf825, Jan 15, 2005.

  1. wolf825

    wolf825 Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    Eastcoast USA
    Got this in PSN e-mail alert today... Not sure if anyone here ever knew or ever worked with Bill..and I'm sure some of the younger folks on here never even heard of him...but Bill McManus was a legend in lighting and what concerts have become today. I myself had the pleasure of meeting and working with him in the mid-late 80's a couple of times...a great and BIG guy. I had not seen him in many years but Wow...a legend in lighting who has always been around...has passed....

    Bill McManus, Lighting Industry Pioneer- 1946-2005

    Bill McManus, one of the early pioneers of rock and roll lighting and
    the president of both McManus Enterprises and PeakBeam Systems, passed
    away on Thursday, January 13, 2005. Born in Pontiac Michigan on
    December 16, 1946, McManus died unexpectedly as the result of a
    bacterial infection.. He is survived by his wife Jean (who ran PeakBeam
    with Bill), daughter Anne and son Billy.

    McManus began his career supplying lights for concerts at Saint
    Joseph’s University, where he attended college. Later on he became the
    lighting designer at Philadelphia’s Electric Factory, where he honed
    his chops lighting a variety of touring acts. In those early days of
    rock and roll tours, it was the responsibility of the local promoter to
    supply lights and sound for the bands when they came to town. He found
    that he had a natural ability in lighting design and he designed
    lighting packages for Jethro Tull, Elton John, Cat Stevens, The Eagles
    and The Who. As the industry developed and bands started carrying their
    own production, some who had worked with McManus would use his design
    as a template or technical rider for the lighting package.

    In 1972, lighting designer Chip Monck designed a touring package for
    the Rolling Stones STP Tour that, at the time, was the most
    sophisticated of its kind, revolutionary in scale and plan. It was the
    first to include a painted set, touring follow spots and a rear
    lighting truss that was raised by hydraulics. The tour showed the
    industry that it was possible to create and keep a consistent look from
    city to city. It also gained considerable media attention, putting the
    Rolling Stones on the cover of Time and Life magazines. It was a
    pivotal point in the touring industry.
    One of the fixtures that Monck had on the Stones tour was the
    Cine-PAR, originally built by Kliegel Brothers for the newsreel
    industry. Said McManus, “The Cine-PAR was barely a fixture. It had a
    yoke that held a very shallow round stamping with two ridges and two
    retainer rings; one for PAR 64 lamps and a smaller inner ring for PAR
    56 lamps. The back of the lamp stuck out of the fixture and the exposed
    lamp prongs were attached to the porcelain socket and wires that ran to
    the yoke. 10" by 10" gel frames were held in place by gravity and clips
    were spot-welded on the two sides and bottom.”
    The fixture was rarely used by anyone in the concert touring industry.
    It produced an oval-shaped pool of light, unlike the traditional circle
    shape. Because of its short barrel, it burned through gel very quickly.
    Monck used it on the Stones tour for backlight with saturated gel for
    deep, intense color washes. The Cine-PAR backlight created a vivid
    contrast to the white follow spots lighting from the front. The
    contrast gave the band depth that was noticed from even the back rows
    of the arenas.

    At the time, McManus had been on tour for three years with Jethro
    Tull. Compared to the Stones show, the lighting package in the Jethro
    Tull tour was very basic, consisting of ellipsoidals, Fresnels and
    strip lights. Ian Anderson, lead singer of Jethro Tull, approached
    McManus and asked him to propose a lighting package that would compete
    with the Stones tour. McManus explained that it would be difficult to
    create a 144,000-watt show on Tull’s limited budget and one that could
    be loaded in, set up and loaded out every night. This was crucial since
    their schedule included 30 straight nights of shows, five times a year.
    But Anderson okayed the budget to design and build duplicate theatrical
    settings and lighting systems. McManus assembled two complete systems
    and road crews, the “B” and “C” teams, each with two semis that
    leapfrogged each other. In addition, the “A” team of road crew,
    directors and band members traveled with another truckload of sound and
    band gear working every day from noon to midnight. McManus’s innovative
    design included the first control console expressly built for pop music
    that allowed him to “play” the lights with the music like a band

    With the new Jethro Tull budget, McManus approached Altman Lighting
    about making a variation of the Cine-PAR. He took a prototype of the
    new fixture and met with Ronny Altman. Together they reengineered the
    fixture, lengthening the barrel to set the gel further away from the
    lamp. The longer barrel had holes for heat dissipation and baffles to
    prevent light leaks. They added a spring latch to hold the gel frame in
    place and put a rounded cap on the back of the fixture. In the cap,
    they cut a hole so a technician could twist the socket to rotate the
    beam of the lamp. Within five weeks Altman had built 500 of the
    fixtures and the redesigned fixture redefined the lighting industry

    McManus, who partnered with Chip Monck on several epics in the mid
    70’s, continued his innovative Emmy award winning lighting career by
    moving into location lighting for film and TV sports from the early
    80’s until his death. He lit, among others, HBO’s Boxing events for the
    last 24 years. He also manufactured the Maxa Beam Xenon Searchlight,
    the “world’s most powerful handheld, battery-powered light.” Besides
    being designed into several pop/rock tours, sci-fi films and theme
    parks, the Maxa Beam has been deployed with the troops in Iraq and
    Afghanistan. Over 18,000 units have been fielded since it was first
    introduced to the US Navy in 1989.

    Bill McManus was a giant in the lighting field and he will be missed
    by many.
  2. avkid

    avkid Not a New User Fight Leukemia

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    Stagehand/ Production Company Owner
    Howell, NJ
    Sounds like he was a great man, to all who knew him: our thoughts are with you!
  3. Lighters

    Lighters Member

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    Bala Cynwyd P.A.
    Us the new stagehands, techies, and lighting designers will miss this great man for all of his contributions along with the great company he left behind. My friends and theatre do much work with McManus Co. and it is saddening to here such a great revolutionizing man has died. He will be greatly missed...
  4. ship

    ship Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    Thanks, I had not had time to send the copy I sent home yet. A legend I unfortunately never met.
  5. TechnicalDirector3-W

    TechnicalDirector3-W Member

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    North Dakota-USA
    I am saddened to hear of this great mans death and send my condolences to all of his family and friends.

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