Jack Calmes pictured at Syncrolite in 2011
USA - Jack Calmes, the founder of Showco and Syncrolite, has died at the age of 71. One of the concert production industry's true pioneers, Calmes was also a musician, promoter, live music venue owner, artist manager and film and television producer.

In the mid-60s, Calmes and friend Angus Wynne co-founded Showco in Dallas, Texas, and set about putting on music shows. Among their early successes was a University party in Dallas headlined by Chuck Berry. Showco also brought The Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin and the Doors to Dallas. In 1967 Calmes and Wynne opened a Dallas music venue, Soul City, played by stars such as Stevie Wonder, Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Ike and Tina Turner and Jerry Lee Lewis.

The pair sold their interest in the venue the following year and concentrated on Showco, promoting the Texas International Pop Festival in 1969. Despite a good reception, the festival lost money, Showco failed and Wynne and Calmes parted company. Calmes, along with Jack Maxson and Rusty Brutsché, regenerated the business in 1970 with a focus on live sound, and went on to build Showco into the most successful concert production company of its day.

As a musician himself, Calmes focused on quality sound for his clients, understanding that house PA systems on the music venue circuit were not up to the job. Showco developed and built all its own sound systems, even building their own mixing desks, for clients such as Led Zeppelin, Three Dog Night, Steppenwolf and Genesis, servicing many of the biggest US tours of the 1970s. As well as its sound systems, the company was involved in various innovations in staging and lighting.

By 1980, Showco was employing 150 people and turning over about $5m per year. In 1981, Showco engineers developed the first colour-changing, moving light, the Vari-Lite, which famously debuted with Genesis in Barcelona in 1981.

Calmes, who resigned as president of Showco in 1980, produced a number of film and live television shows, including a global satellite broadcast of The Who in 1982, later released as the documentary The Who Rocks America. In 1984 he founded another famous name in show production, Syncrolite, developing high-powered, DMX-controlled Xenon searchlights which have appeared on high-profile shows all over the world ever since.

According to The Dallas Morning News, Calmes passed away at home in Dallas on Monday 5 January after a long battle with cancer.

Calmes is survived by his wife, Susie, as well as their daughter and two grandchildren of whom he was extremely proud. His memorial service will be Monday, January 12 at 2:00pm at Sparkman Hillcrest Funeral Home in Dallas. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the SPCA or another charity.

(Lee Baldock)

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