Tom Petty Lauds Richard Fernandez at 2016 Parnelli Awards Gala

by Frank Hammel;
in News
Tom Petty and Richard Fernandez at the 2016 Parnelli Awards
Tom Petty and Richard Fernandez at the 2016 Parnelli Awards

LAS VEGAS — Adrian Belew, whose skills as an emcee and comedian, it turns out, rivals his artistry on the guitar, dropped a hint midway through the 2016 Parnelli Awards gala that something special was about to be added to an already extraordinary evening Oct. 22 at the Rio in Las Vegas. The surprise: an appearance by Tom Petty to present the 2016 award for Lifetime Achievement to his longtime tour manager Richard Fernandez.

“I never knew anyone who didn’t admire him to the bottom of their soul,” said Petty of Fernandez, noting how the East L.A. native was lucky to have “really good parents who raised a really good man.”

Tom Petty and Richard Fernandez at the 2016 Parnelli Awards

Petty was impressed by Fernandez after first meeting him because he “talked about music the way cats who know music talk about music.” And that love of good music played out in the course of Fernandez’s career, which included gigs with Faces, the New Barbarians and Eagles, among others.

Tom Petty at the 2016 Parnelli Awards

“There were no sh**ty bands on the whole gig,” Petty said, noting how Fernandez’s musical tastes shaped his career choices — a fact underscored by the young tour manager’s willingness to cut a deal with manager Tony Dimitriades to join the Petty camp as Tom and the Heartbreakers were first making their mark.

From the Parnelli stage, Petty noted how, when everything comes together, there can be a co-mingling of artistic expression and audience appreciation that borders on the sacred. “God is in that,” Petty said, capping an evening of appreciation for what makes the live events industry so unique.

Kiki Ebsen at the 2016 Parnelli Awards

Along with other poignant moments, including the live vocals of Kiki Ebsen singing Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now" during the In Memoriam reel, the evening had its raucous moments and unexpected twists, including the merciless roasting of Parnelli visionary Danny O’Bryen by former Parnelli Lifetime achievers Charlie Hernandez (2012) and Jake Berry (2009) and when the Parnelli emblem on the lectern plopped to the stage during one of the evening’s marathon speeches.

Adrian Belew at the 2016 Parnelli Awards

After a funny bit that had him crestfallen upon discovery that the Parnelli Awards stage wasn’t, in fact, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, Belew blew apart any pretense of decorum with his story of meeting Frank Zappa’s long-haired five year old son, who promptly flipped him the bird and gave him a loud “F*** You” after Adrian mistakenly referred to the trike-riding tyke as Zappa’s daughter.

Marshall Bissett at the 2016 Parnelli Awards

Parnelli Awards board chairman Marshall Bissett had a topical tie-in between the fairness of the Parnelli voting process in this “rigged” election year as the video screens showed him lounging on a pile of cash. And before Audio Innovator Greg Mackie came out on stage to hint at yet another audio innovation that will be appearing on the market soon, fellow Audio Innovator award winner Stanley Miller (2009) poked fun at himself by coming out to the stage masked as a dinosaur.

Mick Whelan and Stanley Miller

Preceded by the Parnelli Cocktail Party and followed by an After Party that included a silent auction and trampoline aerialists, the ceremony concluded with a quick word of thanks from Parnelli Awards executive producer Terry Lowe, who had also made sure that everyone knew that the 30-plus sponsors of the event made the whole thing possible.

Terry Lowe, Parnelli Awards executive producer and publisher of PLSN

Amid plaudits for a “humbled and joyous” Richard Fernandez, who was draped in ceremonial ti leaves from Hawaii, Tom Petty also voiced his appreciation for the ceremony itself. “I’m glad this forum for the appreciation of people on the road exists,” he said. "I have, many nights, thought, 'God, there should be an award for that monitor mixer who saved the whole show,' and nobody knows it but me."

And although Petty, at 66, may be contemplating retirement, he’s not quite done with touring. “I’m not quitting until Richard does,” he said.

And the Winners Are:

2016 Parnelli Lifetime Achievement Award
Richard Fernandez

2016 Lifetime Achievement Award Winner Richard Fernandez

2016 Parnelli Visionary Award
Danny O'Bryen

2016 Parnelli Visionary Award Winner Danny O'Bryen

2016 Parnelli Audio Innovator
Greg Mackie

FOH editor George Petersen presents the 2016 Parnelli Audio Innovator Award to Greg Mackie

 

Lighting Company of the Year

  • Bandit Lites | Garth Brooks at Yankee Stadium

Bandit Lites' DizzyGosnell, MichaelStrickland and Michael Golden with the 2016 Parnelli Award for Lighting Company of the Year

Hometown Hero Lighting Company of the Year

  • TLS Productions (Ann Arbor, MI)

TLS Productions' Brad Hayes with the Parnelli for 2016 Hometown Hero Lighting Company of the Year. Behind him is presenter Asher Benrubi and hostess Joyce Jones.

Lighting Designer of the Year

  • Phil Ealy | Guns N' Roses

Phil Ealy, 2016 Parnelli Lighting Designer of the Year

  • Lighting Director of the Year
  • Michael Keller | Black Sabbath

Michael Keller, 2016 Parnelli Lighting Director of the Year

  • Set/Scenic Designer of the Year
  • Es Devlin | Adele

Adele's tour featured a set design by Es Devlin. The tour's video director, Matt Askem, also won a Parnelli this year.

  • Sound Company of the Year
  • Sound Image | Brad Paisley

Sound Image won Sound Company of the Year. Dave Shadoan accepted the award.

  • Hometown Hero Sound Company of the Year
  • Rainbow Production Services (Atkinson, NH)

Rainbow's Hollis 'Jib' Clark with the 2016 Hometown Hero Sound Company of the Year award.

  • FOH Mixer of the Year
  • Richard Sharratt/Howard Page | Peter Gabriel/Sting
  • Monitor Mixer of the Year
  • Stuart Delk | Rascal Flatts

Stuart Delk won a Parnelli for Monitor Mixer of the Year.

  • Audio System Tech of the Year
  • Jeremy Overall | Rascal Flatts

Jeremy Overall, Audio System Tech of the Year

  • Video Production Company of the Year
  • Screenworks | Guns N' Roses

Screenworks' Nick O'Bryen, Randy Mayer and Marty Kell with the 2016 award for Video Production Company of the Year.

  • Video Director of the Year
  • Matt Askem | Adele

PLSN editor Nook Schoenfeld, a Parnelli-winning LD, teamed up with Kristie Roldan this year to present the honors to others.

  • Staging Company of the Year
  • Mountain Productions | CMA Music Festival

Mountain Productions' Ricky Rose with the 2016 Parnelli for Staging Company of the Year

  • Rigging Company of the Year
  • Stage Rigging | Neil Diamond

Stage Rigging's Chris Schmidt with the 2016 Parnelli for Rigging Company of the Year

  • Set Construction Company of the Year
  • Tait Towers | Beyoncé

Tait's Ted Moore accepted the 2016 Parnelli for Set Construction Company of the Year.

  • Pyro Company of the Year
  • Strictly FX | Justin Bieber

 Ted Maccabe and Grant Sellers from Strictly FX accepted the 2016 Parnelli for Pyro Company of the Year

  • Patrick Stansfield Tour Manager of the Year
  • Angie Warner | Imagine Dragons

Former Lifetime Achievers Charlie Hernandez and Jake Berry provided a memorable presentation for Parnelli Visionary Danny O'Bryen

  • Patrick Stansfield Production Manager of the Year
  • Sara Full | The Lumineers
  • Coach Company of the Year
  • Hemphill Brothers

Joey Hemphill with the 2016 Parnelli Award for Coach Company of the Year.

  • Trucking Company of the Year
  • Upstaging

Upstaging's Jen Clark and Evan Lawrence with the 2016 award for Trucking Company of the Year

  • Freight Forwarding Company of the Year
  • Rock-It Cargo

Rock-it Cargo's David Bernstein returned to the Parnelli stage for the 2016 Freight Forwarding Company of the Year.

  • Indispensable Technology - Audio
  • Eastern Acoustic Works | Anna Line Array

EAW's Rusty Waite (left) and Bernie Broderick with the Indispensable Technology Audio award.

  • Indispensable Technology - Video
  • ROE Creative Display | Vanish 25 LED tiles

Roe Creative Display won the IT award in the Video category. Frank Montero accepted the award.

  • Indispensable Technology - Lighting
  • Robe | BMFL WashBeam

Robe's Bob Schacherl with the IT award in the Lighting product category.

  • Indispensable Technology - Staging
  • Stageline | Followspot and Delay Tower

Stageline's Yves Miron with the IT Staging award at the 2016 Parnelli gala.

Photos by Ric Crews and Jacob Coakley