In memoriam: Rob Lingfield

One of pro-audio’s most popular and respected figures, former Martin Audio sales & marketing director and PLASA chairman Rob Lingfield, has passed away aged 59.
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One of pro-audio’s most popular and respected figures, former Martin Audio sales & marketing director Rob Lingfield, has passed away aged 59.

While perceptions of his long career are inevitably dominated by his association with Martin Audio, Lingfield also took a leading role in the wider industry, becoming chairman of PLASA’s European regional board in 2007.

Despite this, his long involvement with pro-audio was by no means preordained. Growing up in Tunbridge Wells, Lingfield qualified as a drama teacher and worked variously as a DJ, promoter, lighting designer and roadie before joining forces with Malcolm Hill in the mid-'70s to produce and hire sound equipment.

In this capacity, he was an integral part of delivering the extensive PA requirements of Live Aid – the 1985 concert spectacular that ushered in a new era for stadium gigs and effectively transformed the relationship between charity and the public consciousness.

While he also had a successful period with Renkus-Heinz, it is his association with Martin Audio for which he will be best remembered. Alongside former MD David Bissett-Powell, he helped to grow the business into a brand with global recognition; one that is simply a default choice for many live sound professionals.

After many years as sales & marketing director, Lingfield took on a more fluid role after February 2009, contributing to the development of the groundbreaking Multi-cellular Loudspeaker Array (MLA) system. Blackline and Wavefront are among some of the many other Martin Audio innovations that he helped to introduce to the world.

But while he remained closely identified with Martin Audio until the end, he also took a keen interest in broader industry developments. As PLASA chairman from 2007 onwards, he was particular about the need to raise standards and recognise achievement.

Martin Audio MD Anthony Taylor and PLASA CEO Matthew Griffiths were among the many to pay tribute to a much-liked mainstay of the pro-audio industry.

“[Rob's] legacy will continue in the sales team that he built following his philosophy of care for his colleagues and his customers, and in the burgeoning success of the new MLA technology,” said Taylor. “Rob taught us not to let our minds overtake our hearts and to follow the right course of action … not the most expedient. His joy of the good things in life, his optimism and great counsel as a colleague and a friend will be a loss not only to the business but to the industry.”

Griffiths, meanwhile, described Lingfield as “an influential and strong advocate of PLASA which saw him lead the organisation as chairman from 2007 up until the present day. His ability to see the bigger picture and ask crucial questions of the PLASA management ensured that a clear direction has been followed over the past five years, including the successful merger with ESTA. His energy, counsel and support will be incredibly missed by us all. Our thoughts are with his family, his colleagues at Martin Audio, and the many, many friends he has in the industry.”

Lingfield is survived by two sons, Edward and Harry from his former marriage, and partner Andrea.

The funeral service will be held at St Michael’s Church, Smarden, Kent on Tuesday 12 July 2011 at 11am, and afterwards at The Bell Inn, Smarden.

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