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John Shaughnessy, General Manager of INHOUSE VTM for Gauteng, recently received the Technical Production Services Association’s (TPSA) prestigious Hall of Fame award. The TPSA is the industry Association that for the last 13 years has represented the interests of technicians and companies working in the Live Events industry.

The TPSA Hall of Fame Award is the highest honour that can be bestowed by the TPSA on an industry member, and the award, according to the TPSA, is given in recognition of service, vision, dedication and long term excellence to the Live Events Industry in Southern Africa.

“I feel very honoured”, says John, who works at the INHOUSE Venue Technical Management branch in Johannesburg, “I was taken completely by surprise”.

A past Chairman of the TPSA, John entered the business during the early seventies doing very basic sound, working with Port Elizabeth musician Duncan Mackay, who in the mid-seventies went to England and joined chart-topping bands such as Steve Harley’s Cockney Rebel, and the world-renowned 10cc.

In the mid-seventies he was a musician for a while, but soon realised that while playing in various obscure bands was great fun, as a career it was always going to have a short lifespan. So he quickly gravitated to Sound Engineering, which is closely related to the trade of musician in any case – just ask any Sound Engineer!

Then followed several years of freelance work for the Radio Rats, Des and Dawn Lindberg, and a tour of Zambia with Letta Mbulu and Caiphus Semenya, the husband and wife team who in the seventies were SA exiles living in Los Angeles.

In 1979 he became the first Sound Engineer employed at Sun City and spent two years there, becoming Complex Audio Manager before he left to once again go freelance in 1981.

“The early 80s turned out to be a fantastic time for the South African Music Industry, although we didn’t realise it at the time” he reminisces, “because when I look back at the time I spent working with bands like Ella Mental, Tribe after Tribe, Bright Blue, e-Void, Petit Cheval, Hotline and lots of really good black bands on the Lion Lager Road Shows, I realise just how privileged I was to be working in this industry as it was starting to come of age.”

In fact, the second half of the 80s sawJohnny Clegg and Savuka, Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Lucky Dube all make their mark on world music. John toured with Johnny Clegg around the world for some 11 years in total.

In the early nineties he worked with Mango Groove in San Francisco, Hong Kong and Australia, and then changed direction to mix “The Rocky Horror Show” and then “The Buddy Holly Story” for some 420 shows around South Africa. From here it was a logical move to become a member of 8th Avenue Sound cc, the show’s Audio System suppliers.

In 1996, Gearhouse plc, a London-based company with branches in sixteen countries, bought Lighting Unlimited Hire and Sales from Ofer Lapid, PA Sound from its owner Attie van Wyk, and made 8th Avenue Sound an offer for its Hire Division that made compelling sense to accept. That was the start of Gearhouse SA, where John has been ever since, firstly running the Audio Division with his long-time partner in crime John Mac, and then becoming National Group Services Manager.

Last year he changed direction once again, and joined Gearhouse SA’s sister company INHOUSE Venue Technical Management as General Manager, Gauteng, which he has found fascinating.

“The market for outsourced Technical Expertise in the Hospitality Sector is growing so rapidly that it’s hard to keep up with demand and yet still maintain our very high standards”, he says, “not that we’re complaining, of course!”