Bandit founder wins Parnelli Visionary Award
Thursday, 11 July 2019
michael-strickland-headshotStrickland began Bandit at age 12 in Kingsport, Tennessee in 1968
USA - Michael T. Strickland, Bandit Lites founder and chair, will be the 2020 winner of the Parnelli Visionary Award.
Strickland has now led Bandit for 51 years, having founded the company in 1968 when he was just 12 years old. The award will be presented at the 19th Parnelli Awards on 17 January 2020 at the Anaheim Hilton in California.
“You must remember that in 1968 no one had stage lighting,” Strickland commented, “they all played with the ceiling lights on in a high school gym or National Guard Armory. When we showed up with ‘borrowed’ lekos and Fresnel’s, this was all new to the acts. At the same time, others in New York and LA were also experimenting and doing very psychedelic stuff, but they were adults, and I was a 12-year-old kid.”
Because of his appearance, Strickland notes he was able to bluff his way into situations that a 12-year-old should not have been in. Hiring someone with a driver’s licence was job one, and after that, the rest is history. The original Bandits took off and began illuminating rock shows in a 300- mile radius of Kingsport. On any given weekend, Bandit had borrowed all the lighting equipment from the high school, two junior highs and a theatre or two - hence the name Bandit.
Strickland graduated high school and then took the show on the road to the University of Tennessee where the merry band of pioneers continued lighting shows throughout college. After a degree in business, Strickland went onto UT Law School while simultaneously working as the production manager for the biggest act in the world: Kenny Rogers. Bandit grew rapidly and acts such as Blackfoot, The Outlaws, Molly Hatchet and Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn, Charlie Rich, The James Gang, Alabama and countless others used Bandit.
Bandit grew to have offices in Knoxville, Nashville, Charlotte, San Francisco, London, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Garth Brooks, Queen, Van Halen, Aerosmith, Jason Aldean, Barry Manilow, Carrie Underwood, Alice Cooper, Def Leppard, REM, Widespread Panic, Alabama, The Judds, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Neil Young, Selena Gomez, Hilary Duff, Shinedown, Halestorm, Jimmy Buffett, Lord of The Dance, WWE and countless others have called upon Bandit Lites for their lighting needs.
(Jim Evans)

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