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New Book “The Last Seat In The House: The Story Of Hanley Sound” Now Available

Detailing the impact of Bill Hanley, engineer for Woodstock in 1969 and known as the "Father of Festival Sound."
The cover of "The Last Seat in the House: The Story of Hanley Sound" by John Kane.

In a new book just released by University Press of Mississippi entitled, “The Last Seat In The House: The Story Of Hanley Sound,” author John Kane details the impact of live sound pioneer Bill Hanley on the field of sound engineering and reinforcement.

Known as the “Father of Festival Sound,” Hanley (born 1937) made his mark as a sound engineer at the 1969 Woodstock Music and Arts Fair, and is credited with creating the sound of Woodstock, helping to make the massive festival possible. Since the 1950s his passion for audio has changed the way audiences listen to and technicians approach quality live concert sound.

Hanley’s innovations helped found the sound reinforcement industry and launched a new area of technology, rich with clarity and intelligibility. By the early 1970s the post-Woodstock festival mass gathering movement collapsed. The music industry shifted, and new sound companies surfaced. After huge financial losses and facing stiff competition, Hanley lost his hold on a business he helped create. By studying both his history during the festivals and his independent business ventures, Kane says that seeks to present an honest portrayal of Hanley and his acumen and contributions.

Since 2011, Kane conducted extensive research, including over 100 interviews with people from the production and performance side of the industry. These carefully selected respondents witnessed Hanley’s expertise at various events and venues such as U.S. president Lyndon B. Johnson’s second inauguration, the Newport Folk/Jazz Festivals, the Beatles’ final tour of 1966, the Fillmore East, Madison Square Garden, and more.

Both hardcover and paperback versions of “The Last Seat In The House — The Story Of Hanley Sound” are available here.

University Press of Mississippi

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