Tag Archives: Bill Hanley

David Marks Music Director Producer Archivist

David Marks Music Director Producer Archivist

David Marks Music Director Producer Archivist

Social media have revised the old notion that we are all only 6 degrees of separation apart to three or four perhaps.

My September 13 blog entry was on the Toronto Rock and Roll Revival. The festival was not selling many tickets until the organizers announced that they'd booked John Lennon to play. Then there weren't enough tickets.

Through that blog entry, a David Marks and I have exchanged messages.

David Marks Music Director Producer Archivist

David Marks is from South Africa. In the beginning, he worked in a gold mine and wrote songs there. One of them, "Master Jack" became a hit in 1968 for the Four Jacks and a Jill. They also had a hit with "Mr Nico" 

Bill Handley roadie

In 1969, David worked for Bill Hanley Soundman Extraordinaire. Of course 1969 will ring the Woodstock bell for many who read this blog regularly and Marks was there with Hanley.  And on September 13, Hanley and crew were in Toronto.
Remarks of…
David Marks Music Director Producer Archivist, 
David recently shared a picture he took during that concert:

David Marks Music Director Producer Archivist

     And Marks added the following comment: 

September 1969 - Live Peace in Toronto.... How time flies when you're in the rocking chair. 2 S Africans were involved for Bill Hanley sound. It was my first real full festival mixing gig. Just before lunch time - in the stadium packed with over 50,000 - Bill walked away from the desk... I said hey Bill where're you going... gonna find some Southern fried chicken in Toronto he said. (His favourite food back then). Who's mixing I cried, above the polite applause as Tony Joe White took the stage... you are, Bill screamed back over the din. And from then on it was me and every rock band that I was brought up on in Africa; that is until the Doors engineer took over. But not before I'd finished with John Lennon & The Plastic Ono Band. Truth is... I wouldn't budge or let anybody near the desk for that entire afternoon. And Bill graciously let me handle it. Even the famous 'feed back' incident with Yoko Ono did not deter me from hogging the mix.

Let me name drop BIG TIME. Jerry Lee Lewis, Lord Sutch, Bo Diddley, Alice Cooper, etc... from where I shot countless pictures with my Pentax Spot Matix. (No flash - 400 ASA & a telephoto lens... such as they were back then.) Also shot a few slides from a borrowed roll of film... that I bummed off a passing journalist. I mention all this, because these notches on my sound belt eventually led to a 40 year sound career back in Southern Africa.

Oh... and the other S African? From Malmesbury in the Western Cape...Jimi Hendrix's recording & sound engineer & one time manager: Eddie H. Kramer. As with Woodstock, Eddie & his partner Lee Osborne, recorded the film sound track back stage, from a split feed from out of our stage box onto 2 linked Ampex 4 track decks, if I recall. And no, I did not mix sound at Woodstock, as urban myth (and the University overview) claim. I was a Hanley Sound roadie. Thanks again Bill Hanley... the Father of Festival Sound. Hail Hail Rock 'n Roll. 

He added the follow-up comment:

Forgot to mention the mix for... Alice Cooper, Louisiana Zydeco fiddler Doug Kershaw & the Queen of Rock 'n Roll... Little Richard. All three show stoppers. (Standing on the grand piano that Jerry Lee Lewis had kicked out of tune, Little Richard declared: Elvis may be the King of Rock 'n Roll honey, but I'm The Queen.)

And an extra comment about the Plastic Ono Band...

Yoko got under a sheet & I didn't know she had a mic... but I heard this turkey warble & when the feedback started I couldn't ID the source... suddenly someone shouted at me "... it's under the sheet.... it's under the sheet."

30 years later when 3rd Ear Music brought Crosby, Stills & Nash to South Africa, Bill Siddons was their manager... he was the Doors' manager back in '69 and they were about to follow John & Yoko. Bill came out front to check the mixer / desk when the feedback thing happened. Sitting around a breakfast table in Sandton in 1996 I'm bragging about this infamous incident... Bill starts laughing. Don't tell me that you were the sound guy I shouted at? Blush! Go figure.
John Yoko South Africa
One reply to the post asked about John & Yoko in South Africa in the 1970s?

Too true. They spent most if the time in Cape Town... so we believe. In fact the taxi driver that John booked wrote about it a few years later. They became friends. John visited Cape Town a few times if the urban myths are to be believed. No I didn't meet John or Yoko... not even when I mixed for the Plastic Ono Band in '69.

More Bill Hanley

David Marks also added a couple other pictures to the thread:


Bill Hanley ... a better view of the 'home made' Hanley mixer. Setting up in the morning, Toronto 1969, and sound checking with a local band of student rockers. Can't recall who they were. But you can see the speakers stacks a bit more clearly. And today the kids want 48 channell splitboard mixers with on-stage monitoring for 100 clubbers... and there Bill Hanley was... some 12 channels for 50,000, with an aux-mix stage feed for monitors? Go figure.


David Marks Music Director Producer Archivist

Bill Hanley early morning setting up the mix at Live Peace in Toronto.
3rd Ear Music and the Hidden Years Music Archives

David Marks Music Director Producer Archivist

In a future posts I'll try to cover some of David Marks' current musical involvement particularly with 3rd Ear Music and the Hidden Years Music Archives.

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Bill Hanley Last Seat in the House

Bill Hanley Last Seat in the House

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

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

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
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
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 Last Seat in the House
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!

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


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Bill Hanley Soundman Extraordinaire

Bill Hanley Soundman Extraordinaire

Who is this guy?

Early Bill

Bill Hanley was born in March 4, 1937.  Happy birthday, Bill!

He was born in Medford, MA when radio still ruled the airwaves. Like some other young people of his time, listening to the radio evolved into looking inside and discovering the world of electronics.

During the early 60s, a childhood friend of mine showed me how easily we could hook up an extra speaker or two to my simple record player to enhance the sound. Such “simple” reconstruction can lead to the love of sound.

Such was the case with Bill Hanley and his brother Terry.

Keep in mind that for most outdoor sound at this time, the phrase was PA, as in “public address.” That is, the group or individual that needed outdoor sound concentrated on sending the speaker’s voice out into the audience.

The Hanley brothers loved good sound and their love coincided with a time of increased outdoor music events and musicians needed more than simply sending the singer’s voice, musicians needed their instruments to be heard as well.

Bill Hanley Soundman Extraordinaire

Hanley Sound

Bill Hanley Soundman Extraordinaire

In 1957 Bill Hanley began a relationship with the Newport Jazz Festival and its organizer, George Wein.  Remembering that difference between what a PA can do versus what a good “sound system” can do, think about how important quality sound production would be to jazz musicians.

Shortly after that Bill and Terry Hanley began Hanley Sound Inc, at 430 Salem St. in Medford, MA.

Bill Hanley Soundman Extraordinaire

Good timing

In 1964 Baby Boomers experienced Beatlemania and the British Invasion. Like all stories, being in the right place or knowing to be in the right place at the right time can make all the difference.

In 1966 Hanley Sound was working with the Boston band, The Remains (“the greatest band you never heard of”) and while the Remains were not a household name outside of Boston, they were good enough to land quite a gig: the 1966 Beatle tour.

Bill Hanley Soundman Extraordinaire

Epstein meets Hanley 

On that tour Brian Epstein recognized the quality that Hanley Sound could produce and used them.  Next came the Beach Boys. And by the end of the 60s, Hanley sound was doing outdoor concert after outdoor concert.

The most famous one was the Woodstock Music and Art Fair.

Bill Hanley Soundman Extraordinaire

Last Seat In the House

Bill Hanley continued his golden touch on sound. One person in particular who has tried to get the recognition for Bill Hanley that he so deserves is a John Kane.  John has been working on a film about Hanley called “Last Seat In the House.” 

The title reflects the goal that Hanley Sound always aimed at: that the people in the last row could hear the music as well as anyone seated anywhere else.

Bill Hanley Soundman Extraordinaire
Here are some words from John Kane:

I am a post grad doctoral student and for the past three years I have been researching the life/career of pioneer sound engineer Bill Hanley. Since the beginning of this research, until now my discoveries have been overwhelming.

Collectively, sound reinforcement is an area of technology that is often overlooked. It is my hope that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame acknowledges, considers, and/or inducts Bill Hanley and his pioneering sound company into their institution. If the RRHF leadership were to peel away the layers of popular music as we know it today, they would surely realize that the area of “sound” owes much to Hanley’s pioneering work. An acknowledgment like this would bring light and significance to an era innovation where quality sound in popular music mattered most…the 1960s and 1970s.

In my view (and others) Hanley was a primary force in bringing quality sound to the forefront of the evolving music and political arenas. When primitive public address technology was the “norm” for various events, the influence of Bill Hanley elevated the quality of sound via his innovative methods and application.

Lastly, if you choose to sign this petition would you kindly forward this email to your network of friends and colleagues? This will allow us to reach our rather ambitious goal.

Bill Hanley Soundman Extraordinaire


Help Induct Bill Hanley of Hanley Sound into the
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!
Click here and please sign petition

Bill Hanley Soundman Extraordinaire
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