Bill Hanley Last Seat in the House

Bill Hanley Last Seat in the House

Bill Hanley, born March 4, 1937
a documentary by John Kane
Bill Hanley Last Seat in the House
Bill Hanley working the boards in 2013 at the annual Yasgur Farm Woodstock Reunion (courtesy of Charlie Maloney)

If you were at Woodstock or have ever listened to any songs from that festival, you have Bill Hanley to thank. He was THE sound man for that event,  John Kane has made a documentary about Bill called “Last Seat in the House.”

It is astounding how many things Bill Hanley has been a part of throughout his career and why he is not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is simply a reflection the that Hall’s too common shortsightedness when selecting whom to honor.

A bit of Hanley’s story from the movie’s site:

Bill Hanley Last Seat in the House

Medford, MA

Born in 1937 in Medford, Mass., Parenelli Award winner Bill Hanley was the oldest of five children. By the age of six, his father gave him his first crystal set, followed by a one-tube radio, then a six-tube radio setting off an interest in electronics. During his teens he and his younger brother Terry would install TV antennas on roofs, and fix TVs for neighbors. At Christmas they even hooked up one of the early amplifiers they built to a big speaker, pointed it out their attic window, blaring Christmas music for the neighbors.

Bill Hanley Last Seat in the House

Hanley Sound

Bill Hanley Last Seat in the House

During Hanley’s time in vocational school he became unimpressed with the state of public address driven technology used for the emerging live music scene. However he was impressed by the sound system at a local roller rink, developing a long lasting love for organ music and Jazz.

By 1957, Hanley chased down Newport Jazz Festival promoter George Wein, establishing a long successful career as Newport Folk and Jazz Festivals sound company.  Soon his reputation grew and other big jobs began to trickle in, eventually leaving his day job and establishing Hanley Sound at 430 Salem St in Medford, MA by the late 1950s.

A proud moment for Hanley’s family and community was when the firm handled the sound for the second inauguration of President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965. That same year, he opened an office in New York City, providing sound for places like Café A Go Go and the Bitter End. Eventually the college circuit broke and a need for concert touring sound reinforcement would emerge.

In 1966 a job for the local Boston band The Remains, allowed Hanley the opportunity to support the group on their accompanying tour with the Beatles. Soon Hanley would find himself behind the mixing console for eastern portion this historic Beatles tour. Known for distributing Altec-Lansing speakers fanned around the bases, Hanley doubled the sound and power typically used, with an impressive (for the time) 600-watt amplifier system… Sadly, his sound system was pulverized by the crushing power of 43,000 screaming teenage girls. Moving on, more bands turned to Hanley Sound, like the Buffalo Springfield for example who put him under contract. While working with the band Hanley introduced them a new device called the on-stage “monitor.” Blown away by the results, Neil Young would  forever be indebted to the sound engineer for allowing them to be able to “hear” while on stage.

Bill Hanley Last Seat in the House

Fillmore East

By 1968 Hanley was brought in to do the sound for Bill Grahams Fillmore East in NYC.  At this point his reputation for quality sound was mammoth, leading him to provide sound reinforcement for some of the largest pop & rock festivals in American history. However, nothing could match Hanley’s culminating performance in sound, the pivotal gig of live event history ~ The Woodstock Music and Art Fair of 1969. Thereafter Hanley would forever be known as the “Father of Festival Sound.”

Bill Hanley Last Seat in the House
Bill Hanley at Woodstock Music and Art Fair
 Bill Hanley Last Seat in the House


Moving into the next decade Hanley’s social conscience lead him to work on several large scale anti-war protest rallies, even sending the entire Woodstock sound system to South Africa for their Anti-Apartheid movement.

The post Woodstock, anti -mass gathering initiatives in America at the time set the sound company’s projections back. Unprepared for what was to come Hanley’s company felt the shortcomings of a changing era of technology and live performance. The 1970s also brought a great transformation to the industry where more sound companies were surfacing. From the 1970s on, Hanley would continue to be called on for more sound work, eventually turning his attention to staging.

Bill Hanley walking the festival field

A true pioneer, Bill Hanley’s contributions to live concert sound reinforcement can be felt to this day.

Help get Hanley into the R and R Hall of Fame by signing the petition!

Visit the movie site for a LOT more sound and sights…I get goose bumps just listening!

Bill Hanley Last Seat in the House

Parnelli Audio Innovator Award

In 2006, Hanley was given the Parnelli Audio Innovator Award which recognizes pioneering, influential professionals and their contributions.


And read this amazing October 2023 article in the Eagle Tribune!
Bill Hanley Last Seat in the House

November 4 Peace Love Art Activism

November 4 Peace Love Art Activism



November 4 Peace Love Activism

November 4, 1646:  the Massachusetts General Court approved a law requiring all members of the colony to recognize the Bible as the Word of God, under penalty of death. (DP, see May 27, 1647; Separation, see April 21, 1649)

Rose Bird defeated

November 4, 1986: California Chief Justice Rose Bird and two other ‘liberal’ members of the state supreme court were ousted in a retention election. The election followed a bitter campaign that centered on the three justices’ records in death penalty cases.  [NYT article] (see November 1987)

November 4 Peace Love Art Activism


Benjamin Ryan Tillman

November 4, 1890: Benjamin Ryan Tillman was elected governor of South Carolina. An outspoken white supremacist, Tillman advocated for violence against African American voters and staunchly opposed educational access for black people.

Tillman’s political career catapulted to success after his involvement in the 1876 Hamburg Massacre, where white men rioted and killed nine people in a predominantly African American town in South Carolina. In his gubernatorial campaign, Tillman promised to keep the state’s African American population in a position of permanent inferiority. In his inaugural address and throughout his administration, he emphasized white supremacy and the necessity to revoke African Americans’ rights. Concerning the education of African Americans, Tillman argued, “when you educate a Negro, you educate a candidate for the penitentiary or spoil a good field hand.”

He served two terms as governor and played a critical role in the 1895 South Carolina Constitutional Convention. In order to vote under the revised constitution, a man had to own property, pay a poll tax, pass a literacy test, and meet certain educational standards. The 1895 constitution disenfranchised African American voters and served as a model for other southern states.

Tillman was elected United States Senator for South Carolina in 1895, and he served in this capacity for twenty-four years. Throughout his tenure, he opposed African American equality, women’s suffrage, and any federal interference in state government. Tillman’s philosophy helped shape the era of oppression and abuse of African Americans throughout the South. A statue honoring Tillman still stands on the grounds of South Carolina’s State Capitol and as with many statues today, there are many who feel that such recognition is undeserved. (Charleston City Paper article) (see September 1, 1891)

National Equal Rights League

November 4, 1922: the National Equal Rights League presented a petition signed by thousands of people from fifteen States calling for Congress to consider the Dyer Anti-Lynching bill. [Black Past article] (see Nov 28)

Statue of Liberty plot

November 4, 1965: Federal Judge William Herlands sentenced Robert Collier to 5 years in prison; Walter Bowe received a three-year sentence; and Khaleel Sayyed received an 18-month sentence for their conspiracy to blow up the Statue of Liberty on June 14, 1965.  [NYT article] (next BH, see Nov 8; next Terrorism, see September 5 – 6, 1972)

George Whitmore, Jr

November 4, 1988: Richard Robles, who had served 24 years in the famous ”career girls” murder case, was denied parole for a second time.  Robles, 45 years old, was given a life sentence for the killing of Janice Wylie, a Newsweek researcher, and Emily Hoffert, an elementary-school teacher, in an East Side apartment on Aug 28, 1963. ( see Whitmore for expanded story)

Autherine Lucy Foster

In 1989: Autherine Lucy Foster again enrolled at the University of Alabama. Her daughter Grazia also was a student at the time. (BH, see Feb 10; U of A, see May 9, 1992)

Barak Obama

November 4, 2008:  Barak Obama elected President. First Black American elected President of the US. (click for transcript of Obama’s victory speech >>> Victory speech) (see Nov 5)

Murders of Three Civil Rights Workers

November 4, 2013: the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal from Edgar Ray Killen, convicted of manslaughter in 2005 for the 1964 slayings of three civil rights workers in what became known as the “Mississippi Burning” case. The decision means the justices won’t review lower-court rulings that found no violations of Killen’s constitutional rights during his trial in Mississippi. [CBS News article] (see January 4, 2014)

November 4 Peace Love Art Activism

 November 4 Music et al

Bob Dylan/Carnegie Chapter Hall

November 4 Peace Love Activism

November 4, 1961: Dylan played a concert at Carnegie Chapter Hall, a smaller room than the famous bigger room. There are varying reports on how many people attended the concert. The number ranges between 47 and 53, pretty much all friends and family. (see Nov 20)


November 4, 1963: Newsweek magazine carried an article that mocked Dylan’s self made image and pointed out that he had grown up in a middle class family in Hibbing, MN.

The article showed him as a vain and self-promoting.

Why Dylan—he picked the name in admiration for Dylan Thomas—should bother to deny his past is a mystery. Perhaps he feels it would spoil the image he works so hard to cultivate—with his dress, with his talk, with the deliberately atrocious grammar and pronunciation in his songs” (see Dec 13)

The Beatles/Royal Variety Show
November 4 Peace Love Art Activism
The Beatles greet the Queen Mother

November 4, 1963: The Beatles performed their legendary Royal Command Performance at the Prince of Wales Theatre, London, before the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret. Technically The Beatles were 7th on a 19-act bill, but there was no doubt that they were, in fact, the main attraction. The Beatles called upon their masterful showmanship to put on a stunning four-song performance. They began playing their first song, “From Me to You”, before the curtain opened. John and Paul, at the end of the first song, moved their microphones nearer to the audience. After playing their second song, “She Loves You”, The Beatles bowed to the audience. A nervous Paul cracked a joke about Sophie Tucker being The Beatles’ favorite American group, then they performed “Till There Was You”.

At the end of that song, Paul and John moved their microphone stands back to their original position. After waiting for the applause to die down, John introduced “Twist and Shout”, requesting that persons in the cheaper seats join in by clapping their hands, while everyone else should just “rattle your jewelry”. At the end of “Twist and Shout”, Ringo came down from his drum kit and joined the others; as the curtain closed behind them, they bowed to the audience, then they bowed to the royal box, and then they ran off the stage to thunderous applause.

The show was taped for later broadcast on both television and radio. Their entire performance was broadcast on television, by ATV, on November 10. BBC radio broadcast all but “She Loves You”, also on November 10. The Beatles were a sensation all across Britain, the Royal Command Performance brought a huge triumph for them. (see Nov 11 – 12)

November 4 Peace Love Art Activism


November 4, 1964:  NYC police arrested comedian Lenny Bruce  for obscenity. He was arrested many times in his career on charges of obscenity (October 4, 1961). His style of humor, radical for its time, savagely attacked American hypocrisy on sex, religion and race. Many believe that his arrests were provoked more by his attacks on the Catholic Church than for the dirty words in his routines. (see Dec 2)

November 4 Peace Love Art Activism


November 4, 1968: the Christian Science Monitor asked the White House to confirm or deny a story from their Saigon correspondent that said “political encouragement from the Richard Nixon camp: had been “a significant factor” in President Thieus”s sudden decision to stay home.

LBJ did not know of the October 22 messages between Nixon and Haldeman and decided not to confirm the story despite his strong suspicion that Nixon had tried to undermine the negations. (see Nov 5)

November 4 Peace Love Art Activism

Iran hostage crisis

November 4 Peace Love Art Activism
Iranian students climb over the wall of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran on November 4,

November 4, 1979, : Iran hostage crisis begins: 3,000 Iranian radicals, mostly students, invade the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and take 90 hostages (53 of whom are American). They demand that the United States send the former Shah of Iran back to stand trial. (click >>> NYT article re Students invade embassy) (see Nov 12)

USS Cole

November 4, 2002: Qaed Salim Sinan al-Harethi, a suspected al-Qaeda operative, who was believed to have planned the Cole attack, was killed by the CIA using an AGM-114 Hellfire missile launched from an MQ-1 Predator drone. (NYT article) (see Nov 25)

November 4 Peace Love Art Activism

Ronald Reagan elected President

November 4, 1980: Ronald Reagan defeated incumbent President Jimmy Carter, exactly 1 year after the beginning of the Iran hostage crisis. (click >>> After the celebrations over Ronald Reagan’s spectacular victory, come the hangovers.”)

Jack Kevorkian

November 4, 1996: Kevorkian’s lawyer announced a previously unreported assisted suicide of a 54-year-old woman. This brings the total number of his assisted suicides, since 1990, to 46. (see JK for expanded story)


November 4 Peace Love Art Activism November 4 Peace Love Art Activism

November 4, 2008: California voters approved a ban on same-sex marriage called Proposition 8. The attorney general of California, Jerry Brown, asked the state’s Supreme Court to review the constitutionality of Proposition 8.

The ban threw into question the validity of the more than 18,000 marriages already performed, but Attorney General Brown reiterated in a news release that he believed the same-sex marriages performed in California before November 4 should remain valid and the California Supreme Court, which upheld the ban in May 2009, agreed, allowing those couples married under the old law to remain that way; also, voters in Arizona, and Florida approved the passage of measures that ban same-sex marriage. Arkansas passed a measure intended to bar gay men and lesbians from adopting children. (click for article re day before California vote >>> Rush to marry) (see Nov 12)

November 4 Peace Love Art Activism



November 4, 2008: “Sixty-three percent of Michigan voters approved Proposal 1 (the law took effect on December 4, 2008). It removed state-level criminal penalties on the use, possession and cultivation of marijuana by patients who possess written documentation from their physicians authorizing the medical use of marijuana.” (see February 25, 2009)

November 4, 2014
  • Oregon voters approved Measure 91, a proposal which would legalize the possession of up to eight ounces of cannabis, a limit that was eight times higher than that of Washington and Colorado. The initiative would also allow everyone 21 and older to cultivate up to four plants, and purchase cannabis from state-licensed outlets, which would open by 2016.
  • In Alaska, Ballot Measure 2 was approved with 52% of the vote. This initiative legalized the possession of up to an ounce of cannabis, as well as the private cultivation of up to six plants. The proposal also allowed for cannabis retail outlets. (see February 24, 2015)
  • In Washington D.C voters approved Initiative 71. Once it takes effect – after a 30-day congressional review period – the proposal would legalize the possession of up to two ounces of cannabis for those 21 and older, in addition to allowing for the private cultivation of up to six plants. Although the initiative did not allow for cannabis retail outlets, the district’s Council was considering legislation to change that.
  • In Florida, Amendment 2 (legalization of medical cannabis ) was defeated, failing to garner the 60% required to be passed into law.
  • In Maine, voters in South Portland passed an initiative to legalize up to an ounce of cannabis, joining Portland which approved a similar initiative last year. A legalization initiative was rejected in Lewiston (see Dec 13
November 4 Peace Love Art Activism

Women’s Health

November 4, 2013:  the US Supreme Court left intact a state court decision invalidating an Oklahoma law that effectively banned the so-called abortion pill RU-486. [Reuters article] (see Nov 26)

November 4 Peace Love Art Activism

Trump Impeachment Inquiry

November 4, 2019:  four top White House officials who were supposed to testify for the House’s impeachment inquiry declined to appear. John Eisenberg, the top lawyer at the National Security Council, failed to show up on Capitol Hill for his scheduled deposition time. He is believed to have made the call to lock down records of President Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in a special system.

Eisenberg’s deputy, Michael Ellis, Rob Blair, who served as an adviser to acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney on national security issues, and Brian McCormack, an energy official at the White House Office of Management and Budget, also did not testify.

The inquiry also hundreds of pages of transcripts from Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, who testified on Oct. 11, and Michael McKinley, a former adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who testified Oct. 16. [NPR story] (see TII for expanded chronology)

November 4 Peace Love Art Activism

Environmental Issues

Paris Climate Accord announcement

November 4, 2019: the Trump administration announced that it would begin formally withdrawing the US from the Paris climate accord, the first step in a year-long process to leave the landmark agreement to reduce emissions of planet-warming gases.

“Today the United States began the process to withdraw from the Paris Agreement,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement. “Per the terms of the Agreement, the United States submitted formal notification of its withdrawal to the United Nations. The withdrawal will take effect one year from delivery of the notification.” [CNN story] (next EI, see Nov 7)

Paris Climate Accord exit

November 4, 2020: the US became the first country to officially exit the Paris climate accord , but depending on the result of the presidential election, the US could swiftly rejoin with Democratic candidate Joe Biden pledging to reverse President Donald Trump’s decision to abandon the accord which was ratified by 189 countries.

After a year that’s seen record-breaking wildfires and a seemingly unending stream of hurricanes strike the Gulf Coast, the US became  the only country to formally pull out of the deal since it was adopted in 2015.

Under the rules of the agreement, a country couldt officially leave for one full year after notifying the UN of its intent to withdraw. The countdown to the US’ exit began on November 4, 2019, when the US sent notice of its plans to leave. [CNN story] (next EI, see Nov 21)

November 4 Peace Love Art Activism