Live Design was saddened to learn of the death of the legendary production manager, Benny Collins, who passed away on Friday, January 28, 2017. The apparent cause was pneumonia, as reported by ultimateclassicrock.com in an article by Dave Lifton. An industry veteran, Collins' career spanned over four decades, during which time he worked with such musical greats as The Rolling Stones, U2, Michael Jackson, David Bowie, Journey, The Eagles, and Madonna, among others.
"A native of Oakland, Collins started his career in the live music industry in the early ’70s as a roadie for Graham Central Station before going on to work with Bill Graham. In 1979, he was hired to be Journey’s drum tech and made his way up the ranks to their stage manager and production manager," reports Lifton.
Lighting designer Peter Morse remarked, "Today a large part of the soul of our concert/touring industry departed with the passing of Benny Collins. I was honored to have worked and traveled with him. Like so many others, I will continue to cherish the poetic notes he scripted on the back of my Michael Jackson tour laminates....RIP Sir."
John Featherstone, a principal designer at Lightswitch, posted "the sad, heartbreaking news that the gentle, kind, compassionate Benny Collins has passed away. I cannot adequately describe what a gift Benny was in my life at a pivotal time, what a profound influence he was, and will always be to me. I know his passing leaves a big hole in the lives of many, many people, and my deepest sympathies and condolences to the family."
Gary Westcott, creative director at Digitalite, who also worked with Collins on Janet Jackson tours, says, "He was a dear touring friend, and we spent many years together traveling the planet. He lived a tremendously full life and was so kind to everyone around him. He let my father become an honorary crew member with Janet's Rhythm Nation tour; my father was 72 at the time. Loved the man." Westcott also posted: "Benny Collins, safe travels on your new journey. You touched so many people and were an inspiration. Love and kindness."
Rady Wade, co-director at Tour Link Conference noted, “Last night, we said goodbye to the Master Yoda of the concert production industry, Mr. Benny Collins as we watched our tribute play out on the video walls at the 2017 Tour Link Awards. Beginning his career with Journey then all through Michael Jackson's career, Benny mentored us all. Before Woodstock '94, I called him up to seek his counsel. He sent me all of MJ's stadium advance kit, which helped me realize how much I did not know. This industry will miss him in more ways than one. RIP Benny. You now have the largest stage ever to work. You got this.”
Pollstar reports that Collins was working on a major concert called the Memory Of Concert, according to its producer, John Williams III. The two of them worked together since the early days of Journey.