LAS VEGAS — “Are you sure you have the right guy?” replied a stunned Charlie Hernandez upon getting the call from Parnelli Awards executive producer Terry Lowe and executive director Patrick Stansfield. The Parnelli Board of Advisors has announced that Hernandez, production manager and founder of the nonprofit charity organization, Just a Bunch of Roadies, will receive the live event industry’s highest honor, the Parnelli Lifetime Achievement Award, this October at a gala dinner in Las Vegas.
“Charlie has an amazing career that has influenced all who have had the pleasure of working with him,” says Lowe, also publisher of PLSN. “His organizational ability, intellect, and humor is admired by all; more recently, his humanitarian efforts have been inspiring.”
Hernandez is especially touched because he had a close relationship with the award’s namesake, Rick “Parnelli” O’Brien. “He taught me how to be a human being when we were out on the road with Billy Squire together,” Hernandez says. “He taught me how to use humor, how to take the work seriously, but not yourself too seriously.”
Hernandez started his career hanging out at a Long Island rock club called the Action House, and would first go out on the road with Billy Squier in 1978. Next, he made the leap to Def Leppard when they were soaring to the top. He would spend the rest of the 1980s and early 1990s handling the heavy hitters of heavy metal, working also for Ratt, Poison, and Cinderella, and then Kiss.
Later that decade, he became successful getting more bands into South America, including the infamous Metallica and Guns N’ Roses tour of 1992. “It was insanity from start to finish,” says production assistant Lori Tierney. “There was issue after issue — the gear got caught up in a military coup in Venezuela, a Bogotá rain storm collapsed a stage roof, some of these promoters were also drug dealers…we would not have made it out without Charlie!”
The Police, Sting, David Bowie, Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones and Prince are just a few of the other artists he’s worked with. But for Hernandez, his most important achievement has been as a founder of Just a Bunch of Roadies (www.justabunchofroadies.org), which has taken the talent and skills of live event professionals to help people caught in natural disasters all over the world, starting with the Haitian earthquake in January 2010. While relief agencies were trying to figure what to do and how to do it, Hernandez was making help happen.
“Literally, he got to Haiti quicker than any other relief organization, government or otherwise,” says Robin Shaw of Upstaging. “It was an incredible effort, and it shows how much love people have for Charlie. He asked, and we just did it.”
“He was site coordinator for me on the Stones, and he was great to work with, always someone I can rely on,” production manager and Parnelli Lifetime Achievement honoree Jake Berry says. “He came through this industry from the bottom, and you don’t stick around if you’re not good at your job. He has grown in size and stature! And he has done a lot of good things for other people with his humanitarian work.”
Hernandez will be honored at the Parnelli Awards in Las Vegas this October. For more information go to www.parnelliawards.com.