LAS VEGAS — The governing body of the Parnelli Awards will be presenting this year’s Visionary Award to Eric Pearce, founder of Showlites and Show Group Production Services (SGPS/ShowRig). Pearce is being honored for scores of innovations during an outstanding career.
“I believe we are long overdue on honoring Eric,” said production manager and Parnelli board member Kent Black. “Many companies, including All Access, Accurate Staging and Sew What can trace themselves back to Eric and Showlites — in fact, a lot of people who have fallen off the Showlites ‘apple tree’ went on to have successful careers.”
Just a few of the legends that benefited from Pearce’s tutelage include Dale “Opie” Skjerseth (production manager, Rolling Stones); Mark Spring (production manager, Paul McCartney, George Michael); Toby Fleming (production manager, Tina Turner); Ed Wannebo (production manager, Kenny Chesney); Kieran Healy (LD for American Idol and other TV shows); Simon Miles (TV designer).
Pearce has lived on the cutting edge of live event technology and advancement since he founded Showlites in London in 1974. “Showlites has had a phenomenal influence on the industry — many aspects it pioneered are now industry standards,” said Clive Forrester of All Access Staging, who joined Showlites in 1975. “The company always had a technological edge.”
Showlites expanded into North America with an office in Southern California in 1979, serving such acts as Van Halen, The Who and Supertramp. By 1982, the company also had offices in the Baltimore and Dallas areas, and the company was handling high-profile gigs including the inauguration of President Reagan, The Academy Awards and the 1984 Olympics. Pearce continued to spin off companies including Showpower under John Campion (Alstom Power Rentals, Jacksonville, FL) and Showstaging under Erik Eastland (All Access).
“Not content with changing the world view of dimmers and power distribution in the 1980s, he applied the same concise approach to generators, staging, truss and rigging,” said TMB founder and Parnelli board member Marshall Bissett. “Crews everywhere owe a debt of gratitude to Eric for making their lives easier.”
By the late 1990s, the company again reinvented itself, moving to Orlando and operating under the name Showgroup of Florida, Inc. Today, as owner of Las Vegas-based SGPS/ShowRig, Pearce is still innovating and supporting the live event world with his products.
Along with his talents and innovative thinking, Pearce is known for a wicked sense of humor. “People always say to me, ‘why don’t you write a book about the early days of rock ‘n’ roll and tell the stories?’” Pearce says. “Well, I would, if only I could remember them!”
This year the Parnelli Awards will be held at the Mirage Resort and Casino in Las Vegas on Nov. 23. For more information about the Parnellis, go to www.parnelliawards.com.