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HARMAN Presents Exclusive On-Stage Interview with Woodstock Engineer and ‘Father of Festival Sound’ Bill Hanley at the NAMM Show 2020

January 15, 2020

In a rare public appearance, audio pioneer Bill Hanley will discuss behind-the-scenes of engineering live sound for Woodstock in 1969, and stories from his upcoming book, ‘The Last Seat in the House: The Story of Hanley Sound’.

NAMM (Booth #14508) – ANAHEIM, Calif.—HARMAN Professional Solutions, the global leader in audio, video, lighting and control systems, today announced it will host an exclusive interview with legendary sound engineer Bill Hanley at the 2020 NAMM Show.

Often regarded as the ‘Father of Festival Sound,’ Bill Hanley is an iconic audio pioneer whose integral role in Woodstock paved the way for generations of future festivals. From his early work with the Newport Folk and Jazz Festivals, to the Beatles’ final tour and Dylan’s infamous ‘electric set,’ Hanley’s contributions to the development of event production are unrivaled. Visit the HARMAN booth in the Anaheim Convention Center on Saturday, January 18 at from 11:00AM – 12:00PM to hear Hanley discuss fascinating behind-the-scenes details, including the planning and execution of Woodstock, a watershed moment in the history of rock and roll and festival performances.  

“Woodstock wouldn’t have happened without JBL,” said Hanley. “The JBL D Series drivers were a key component to our custom speaker designs. Without those, we wouldn't have had enough depth and power in the low-end to carry all the way to the back of the crowd. That was the beginning of a life-long relationship. I’m very proud to have partnered with JBL for the iconic festival, and I’m excited to share the story of how we made it happen with guests at the NAMM show.”

With an unprecedented 500,000 people in attendance, Woodstock was the largest festival ever held at the time. And with live concert sound still in its infancy, there were no loudspeakers on the market powerful enough to produce sufficient sound for the massive crowd. As the leading expert on large outdoor PA systems, Hanley was hired to build and operate a one-of-a-kind PA for the event.

To deliver powerful, intelligible sound for the event, Hanley custom-designed a new loudspeaker model called the HSI 410, which featured four 15-inch JBL D-130 drivers and four 15-inch JBL D-140 drivers. These colossal loudspeakers stood nearly seven feet tall and weighed more than half a ton. To ensure balanced coverage, Hanley constructed two multi-level towers to raise the loudspeakers up to 70 feet in the air. After assembling the monumental system, Hanley and his team mixed the shows from platform of plywood and scaffolding erected in the center of the crowd.

Hanley’s innovative practices and speaker designs laid the groundwork for festival and concert production for decades to come. To learn more about Hanley’s accomplishments over the years, including his involvement with Woodstock, check out the upcoming documentary and accompanying book by John Kane, The Last Seat in the House: The Story of Hanley Sound later this year from The University Press of Mississippi. To learn more or preorder your copy of the book in advance, please visit http://www.thelastseatinthehouse.com/.

Hanley will be joined on stage with Ken Lopez, a consultant on The Last Seat in the House: The Story of Hanley Sound and former vice president of JBL Professional. The program will be hosted by broadcast journalist, Nic Harcourt.