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In Memoriam: Pasquale “Paky” Quadri, 1947-2014

PLSN Staff • Features • October 9, 2014

Clay Paky Founder Leaves a Legacy of Innovation

Pasquale “Paky” Quadri, founder and chairman of Clay Paky SpA, died at his home in Torre de’ Roveri, Italy shortly before midnight on Sept. 6. He was 67. In the years since founding the company in 1976 with fellow musician Claudio Paredi — the company name is formed by their two nicknames — Quadri and his company have amassed close to 80 patents and 50 major industry awards for a raft of fixtures combining design innovation with optical excellence and reliable operation.

Quadri was in a band before launching Clay Paky in 1976.The Early Years

In his younger years, Quadri’s interest in music was matched by his fascination with projection and illumination. He learned how to play the organ, the bass and drums, and he also found himself drawn to the cinema, where he operated and maintained film projectors.

Pasquale Quadri in the 1980sNot content with the dim lighting available to traveling musicians, he and Paredi started bringing a standard projector to their gigs, customizing it with an oil based liquid wheel for a psychedelic touch. Interest in the visual effects grew, and the two formed their company.

Clay Paky launched the Astrodisco in 1982 and followed it with the Astroraggi Strong, pictured here.Tragically, Paredi died in a motorcycle accident not long after their fledgling business was founded. But Quadri kept the company going, piquing and satisfying the hunger for innovative visual effects sought by operators of Europe’s burgeoning disco sector in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Among the standout Clay Paky products from that era: the Astrodisco (1982), followed by the Astroraggi, which shot bright, focused beams through lenses built into the outer wall of a rotating disk to create a cluster of spinning rays of light.

Moving Lights

The moving mirror Golden Scan debuted in 1988.By the late 1980s, Clay Paky had ventured further into programmable lighting territory with its Brilliant fixtures (1987) and moving mirror Golden Scan (1988). These were followed by a push into architectural lighting.

Clay Paky’s design innovations continued in recent years with the launch of the company’s Alpha Beam and Alpha Spot moving head fixtures, followed by the company’s popular Sharpy line of fixtures and well-received A.leda B-Eye LED fixtures, all of which garnered plaudits from the industry.

A gold-hued version of the now-ubiquitous Sharpy.Pasquale Quadri with a Golden Scan fixture in 1993.Just a month prior to his death, Quadri announced the sale of Clay Paky to Osram. As it turned out, that deal was announced in August, a month before Quadri’s death. He called the acquisition “an ideal opportunity” for the company’s 130 employees and the Clay Paky brand, crediting Osram for “a great wealth of technical competence and an in-depth knowledge of the lighting market.”

A Lasting Legacy

Quadri is survived by his wife, Antonella; his daughters, Alessandra and Francesca; and granddaughters Melissa and Martina.

Along with his attention to design details, creative flair and business acumen, Quadri is remembered fondly by many in the industry — including his competitors — for his quiet but warm and generous personality.

Pasquale Quadri presents a check to support Light Relief in 2012. Accepting the check is Rick Fisher.Pasquale Quadri, 1947-2014“He deserved all the awards he received,” noted Peter Johansen, now CEO of SGM Lighting, and former head of rival moving light manufacturer Martin. (Other remembrances of Quadri by members of the industry can be seen in the sidebar accompanying this article.)

In 2006, Pasquale Quadri received the title of “Commendatore” from the President of Italy. In previous years he had already received the honors of “Ufficiale” and “Cavaliere.”

In March 2014, Quadri received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the MIPA Awards, held in Frankfurt during Musikmesse/Prolight + Sound — the first person from the lighting side of the entertainment industry to be so honored. Quadri was also recently honored posthumously with the Gottelier Award at PLASA 2014 in London.

Along with the legacy of innovation bestowed upon the lighting industry, Quadri established a number of ongoing charitable initiatives. Notably, several leverage the perennial popularity of sporting events to help raise funds for those who are unable to take part — seriously ill and handicapped children.

Remembering Pasquale “Paky” Quadri

“He was always a kind gentleman.  He always wore a beautiful Italian suit to the office and to every trade show.  He always greeted me with a hug and a smile and with genuine warmth.  He was responsible for the final decisions on all products.  He was intensely involved and had the most input on all products.”

—Bob Gordon, founder, A.C.T Lighting

“For 36 years I have enjoyed both business and personal relationships with Paky.  I always had a great admiration for the creative work and quality that Paky stood for. I will always remember that smile that Paky would greet you with. At many a trade show, Paky would sneak up behind me in my booth, put his hand on my shoulder to provide a compliment on a new product — with a little comedic ribbing at the same time.  I will greatly miss him.”

—Richard Belliveau, founder & CTO,
High End Systems

“Since my first trip to Rimini, Italy back in 1989, I was amazed at the beauty and quality that Clay Paky put into their products. Their lightshows were second to none, and they set the bar very high for all of us to chase. During my time at Elation, we have always had a friendly relationship and high admiration for Pasquale and his company. Clay Paky inspired us all to make better lighting products, and he built an amazing company as a true pioneer in in our industry.”

—Eric Loader, director of sales,
Elation Professional

“I always regarded Pasquale as one of the original inventors of modern entertainment lighting —  a great engineer and a true gentleman, who deserved all the awards he received in life. Goodbye from a humble colleague.”

—Peter Johansen, CEO, SGM Lighting

“Although I personally only met him once, I’ve always respected his company and the creativity he brought to our industry. The very first time I went to Rimini, I was in my early 20s. Seeing Clay Paky was a true inspiration for me. The creativity coming from the Italian companies was an amazing sight to see and helped give me a deep love for our industry. Paky was a true icon of our industry!”

—Toby Velazquez, president, ADJ Group

“Pasquale’s influence on our industry will not be forgotten.  He led a company that has constantly been innovative and relevant since its inception.  All of us at 4Wall and a great many of our customers will always know the name “Clay Paky,” and that’s a tribute to Pasquale and his work.”

—Wes Bailey, director of marketing,
4Wall Entertainment

“I remember meeting Paky in late 1989. Rimini was all about Paky, and if you wanted rotating gobos, well, the Tiger Scan was it…Almost 20 years later, Paky developed another  light that, again, had a lot of people saying it was a “gag” fixture that wouldn’t last — the Sharpy. Again, they were wrong.  The Sharpy will be an influence on all entertainment lighting for the next 15 years and will be as impactful as  the Altman 360Q, the ETC Source Four, the Vari-Lite VL5 and the Martin MAC 2000.”

—Tim Brennan, vice president, PRG

“Paky was a true innovator. He was first to the market with so many ideas, and he was only interested in designing and building the very best products. I thoroughly enjoyed the many years we worked together, building his brand, sharing great wine in Bergamo, or attending those amazing dinners Clay Paky held in Rimini. My thoughts are with his family and friends, and  the staff of Clay Paky — a very sad time for all.”

—Jack Kelly, president,  Group One Ltd.

“The “firsts” were always disputed amongst the lighting community.  The first moving mirror fixture.  The first rotating gobo.  The first beam shaper.  The first CMY mixing system.  Clay Paky’s push toward technological achievements in the entertainment production industry were many…and, yes, they were the first to market with a great many groundbreaking advances for lighting designers around the globe.  What was never disputed was Clay Paky’s quality; the quality of their manufacturing process and, above all, the quality of light that was produced from their instruments.”

—Patrick Dierson, president,
Dierson Design Group, Inc.

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