LAS VEGAS — The governing body of the Parnelli Awards announces that Howard Ungerleider will be the 2014 recipient of the Parnelli Visionary Award for his outstanding career and scores of innovations in the lighting and special effect fields. Ungerleider will be presented with the 2014 Parnelli Visionary Award at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Nov. 22, 2014.
“Howard is a pioneer who took concert lighting to a new level, leaving everybody else to try to catch up,” says Parnelli Producer/PLSN Publisher Terry Lowe. “His work with Rush has inspired many in this business, and he’s known as one of the nicest, most respected guys in this business, too.”
Many companies turned to Ungerleider when developing new products. “A lot of manufacturers would send me their fixtures to break,” he says. One is High End.
“Howard Ungerleider is a pioneer in the entertainment industry,” says High End founder and Parnelli Visionary Honoree Richard Belliveau. “For as long as I have known Howard he has strived to provide his clientele with new and innovative ideas. New and innovative ideas can sometimes require more work and time for a designer like Howard to implement. Howard unselfishly spends his time to make sure those innovative ideas get implemented and in a successful fashion for his client. The results can be breathtaking.”
Ungerleider was born in New York, and grew up in New Jersey. He did some lighting in high school, and then played in bands. Though rock ‘n’ roll stardom eluded him, he had an opportunity to work for an music agency. He started in the mailroom and eventually became a successful band agent himself. During all those limo rides when the band would ask him what he thought of their show, his constructive criticism and specific ideas soon had him moonlighting as a lighting consultant. In 1974, he left the agency business and went to work with Rush.
Other groups he’s lit up along the way include Blue Öyster Cult, Queensrÿche, Tesla, Rod Stewart, Van Halen and Alicia Keys. When he was called on to light General Motors for the 1994 Canadian Auto Show, his unique grid-approach made for a low-lit aisle and cars the shined brilliantly like jewels – a look that was immediately copied by everyone else. In the early years, his tool kit had lights not typically used in concerts, including military aircraft landing lights (ACLs), which he manipulated to his avant-garde tastes became part of those shows.
See Factor was another company where he collaborated on the development of new lighting concepts. While calling See Factor alumnus Paul Edwards “an electronic genius,” Ungerleider also recalls that Edwards looked at him “like I was on crack” when he mentioned his hope that the ACLs he was using be controlled individually, “and how I wanted the lights to chase. But they built a board to do it.” (Edwards is currently GM at BML-Blackbird.)
Last year, Ungerleider plotted the 40th Anniversary tour of Rush, and he continues his innovations through his company Production Design International.
Ungerleider will be presented with the 2014 Parnelli Visionary Award at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Nov. 22, 2014.
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