In Memoriam: Bob See (1947-2015)

In Memoriam: Bob See (1947-2015)

Bob See

Bob See, founder and mentor of See Factor Industry, passed away in his sleep yesterday, February 10, 2015. The company posted the news on its Facebook page last night.  

See began his career as technical director for Bill Graham's venue, the Fillmore East, in 1968 where he saw hundreds of acts, including Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and The Doors, until the Fillmore closed in 1971. He went on to tour with the James Gang, which led to a position as lighting designer for David Bowie, with whom he toured for three years. He founded See Factor Industry in the early 1970s, and designed and built road packages and toured with bands, such as Aerosmith, Rob Stewart, ELO, Rush, and Rainbow. 

See expanded See Factor into a full-service shop where he could design and build for shows, including Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow with 2,400 40-watt bulbs as well as "the flying A," which was an A-shaped structure, rigged with lighting, that would lay flat on stage and then rise at the end of the show.

While See continued to tour with the likes of Billy Joel, Ted Nugent, and more, he spread the reach of See Factor with offices in Los Angeles and London. Today, See Factor works on live shows, film, TV, corporate events, installations, and special events. See Factor is the longest-running, still independently owned and operated lighting company in the United States.

A wake will be held on Sunday and Monday, February 15 and 16, from 2pm to 5pm, and 7pm to 9pm respectively, at Thomas M. Quinn and Sons Funeral Home, 35-20 Broadway, Long Island City, NY, 11106. A private funeral service will take place on Tuesday. 

Bob was a force of nature, and we mourn the loss of our friend, mentor, and leader, but we will honor his memory by continuing to operate according to the extraordinary example he set for us. Bob would want nothing more than to know that his company will continue to innovate, and to meet his high standards for serving its customers. - Mark Friedman, executive vice president of See Factor Industry

I never worked directly for or with Bob See. You didn't have to. His influence in the lighting industry was inescapable. It was his foresight that tamed and produced some semblance of order to the still evolving and adolescent music touring industry. Those of us who were rising in the industry simultaneously with Bob were fast to adapt and apply his logical methods to our own productions. Elements we now take for granted, were devised and perpetrated by Bob. Things like touring racks and multi-cable were unheard of in the legitimate theatre; now they are the standard! He was a great man. Both in stature and in influence. When I first met him, it was at his office. He was sitting behind his desk. An oversized man and an oversized desk. On either side of his desk, obedient sentries, sat oversized German Shepherds. I was in awe. It was almost surreal. But as we spoke I realized this great man, for all the display of a hard-nosed rock and roller, was a brilliant man, a dedicated man, an empathetic man. A sheep in wolf's clothing. I am glad to have known him. - Steve Helliker

Bob See is so ingrained in the lighting industry that his presence will be felt for a long, long time. Whenever an orange case is loaded on or off a truck, it's like he's standing there making sure it's done right. His words of advice and his wisdom live on through all of those whose careers he helped launch or improve, including my own. - Richard Cadena, Academy of Production

I started working for Bob in the early 90's with very little knowledge of this industry. Bob took the time to teach me by either showing me how to do something or telling me one of his many stories. He was a 'baptize by fire' kind of guy and I will never forget my first lighting design job. It was a Tuesday afternoon and Bob called me to his office on the 3rd floor. He said, "You have a show at Madison Square Garden on Saturday." I said, "That's great. Do we have a plot?" Bob replied, "Yeah, it's in your head. Have it on my desk by Thursday." That pretty much sums up Bob. He would give people the opportunity, and what you did with it was up to you. This business has many facets; whether it be the technical, the political, the personal, or the business side, Bob was always there to guide you and share his knowledge. He was not only a mentor to me but until this day an inspiration. I would not be where I am today without Bob See and See Factor. He shaped the industry and many people's lives. I'm proud to have passed through the doors of See Factor and to have had Bob in my life and career. Words cannot express what he has meant to me over the years. I am honored and humbled and truly lucky to have known him. - Craig Caserta, lighting designer and programmer 

Bob See was a giant in the concert touring production industry from almost its very beginnings. His early innovations set standards that many others copied. He remained a big force for many decades. - Lee Rose, lighting designer

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