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In memoriam: Bruce Jackson

A prime mover behind Jands and Apogee, as well as a leading tour sound engineer for Elvis Presley, Bruce Springsteen and Barbra Streisand, Bruce Jackson died tragically in a plane crash on 29 January.

A prime mover behind Jands and Apogee, as well as a leading tour sound engineer for Elvis Presley, Bruce Springsteen and Barbra Streisand, Bruce Jackson died tragically in a plane crash on 29 January.

An engineer and businessman who worked with some of the leading performers of his time, Jackson first rose to prominence during the late 1960s as the co-founder of audio, lighting and staging company J & S Research Electronics (subsequently known as Jands) in his native Australia. In 1970, having sold his share of Jands, Jackson set a course for America and, in time, the first of his great live sound clients – Elvis.

For Presley – who had returned successfully to live performance after a long hiatus – Jackson mixed stage monitors and even devised a custom monitoring system. Elvis’s sudden death in 1977 brought the curtain down on the association, but the following year Jackson was back out on the road with Bruce Springsteen, then at his first commercial peak. As with Presley, this would prove to be a strong working relationship, and he went on to work with The Boss for the best part of a decade.

Simultaneously, Jackson maintained his strong interest in the development of new audio technology. He helped bring Fairlight to the market and, in 1985, co-founded Santa Monica-based Apogee Electronics. Returning to a long association with Clair Brothers, he helped to instigate the co-development by Clair and Lake of the Clair iO and Lake Contour speaker controller. Subsequent to Lake’s sale to Dolby in 2004, Jackson remained with the company and made a vital contribution to the much-acclaimed Dolby Lake Processor.

But despite his many and varied business credentials, Jackson never lost his love of the road and live events. Over the last 15 years, he worked extensively with Barbra Streisand, and won many plaudits for his sound design of the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

In possession of a pilot’s licence from early adulthood, Jackson even flew Presley between live shows during the 1970s. The passion never left him and, at the time of his death, he was flying a Mooney M20J over Death Valley National Park. His plane is thought to have come down at around 11pm on 29 January, approximately six miles from Furnace Creek.

News of Jackson’s passing was received with shock throughout the pro-audio and live sound industries. A popular figure whose achievements on the road, in the boardroom and in the lab were widely respected, Jackson has been memorialised on company websites and message boards worldwide.

Among those paying tribute was Jackson’s first company, Jands, which said on its website that Bruce would be “sorely missed by his many friends around the world, and by those of us at Jands who knew him from the early days, or who got to know him more recently through his involvement with the Sydney Olympics and other major events. Our heartfelt condolences to Bruce’s family and to all who knew him, worked with him and appreciated his immense contribution to the audio industry.”

Sydney Opera House Trust has announced that the memorial service for Bruce Jackson will be held in the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall on Friday 25 February at 10.00 am. It is open to family, friends and colleagues to pay their respects.

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