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Bruce Jackson: A Life In Sound

He's mixed for Elvis, Streisand and The Boss (among many others), and has been at the forefront of audio technology development for more than three decades.

By PSW Staff February 2, 2011

Bruce Jackson

Editor’s Note: So many of us in the pro audio world are distressed at the news that Bruce Jackson was killed this past weekend, when the plane he was piloting crashed in Southern California.

To say that Bruce was a major force in professional audio is insufficient, as is noting that he was a consummate gentleman, always gracious, generous with his time, engaging but truly humble. Yet these are the words that come to mind, at least to my mind, when I think of Bruce, so these words will have to do.

I met Bruce in 2002 when he was in the midst of helping to develop and bring to market the Lake Contour processor. It was just the latest in an almost unfathomable accomplishments. He was non-plussed about it all, calmly conversing about the technology and its origins, and where he saw it going, frequently punctuated by slight smiles that seemed to ask, “Do you see it? Do you get it?”

Eventually we moved along to talking about his fantastic career, particularly his sound design/engineering/mix work with some of the true giants of music. There was absolutely no braggadocio, just a gentle recitation of facts peppered with interesting anecdotes, riffed with a constant interjection of gentle, self-effacing humor.

Finally I said (well, blurted out would be more accurate) that he should tell us this story, that I would be thrilled to present his story in Live Sound magazine, that readers would learn so much, and enjoy it so much.

Bruce looked at me for a moment, and then said, “Of course. What do you have in mind?”

Live Sound magazine cover, March 2003. (click to enlarge)

We talked about interviews and so on, and finally, I expressed the opinion that it would be quite powerful if he were to tell the story directly, himself, in his own words. He paused, and replied, “Well, that could be fun. I might be able to do that.”

What follows is the story Bruce wrote and sent to me in early 2003, along with some fascinating images. We made it our cover story for the March issue, utilizing even more amazing images, including a photo of a check to Bruce written by Elvis himself.

First, however, is a statement from Jands, the sound company in Austraila where Bruce staked his start in a long, productive journey in professional audio.

Bruce Jackson, rest in peace.

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Statement from Jands:

It was with great sadness that we learned of the death of Bruce Jackson, one of the two founders of Jands.

Along with his school friend Philip Storey, Bruce formed J & S Research Electronics in the late 1960s, the company which soon became known as Jands.

In 1970, Bruce sold his share of Jands and went to America, where he did live sound for performers such as Elvis Presley, Bruce Springsteen and Barbara Streisand. Bruce went on to became one of the pioneers of the live audio industry, working with Clair Brothers Audio, Apogee Electronics and Lake Technology to develop many sound technologies we take for granted today.

Bruce will be sorely missed by his many friends around the world, and by those of us at Jands who knew him from the early days, or who got to know him more recently through his involvement with the Sydney Olympics and other major events.

Our heartfelt condolences to Bruce’s family and to all who knew him, worked with him and appreciated his immense contribution to the audio industry.

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Click here to go to next page, “A Life In Sound” by Bruce Jackson.
Also view related materials:
PSW Live Chat With Bruce Jackson
Inside The Design Of The Lake Contour Processor
Bruce Jackson Interview At Integrate 2010


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Peter Maurer says

I spent many hours in that Santa Monica garage with Bruce showing me all what he describes in the above story; and then so many more amazing projects he developed. Bruce, we will miss you and never forget you; R.I.P.

Anisa says

I love you uncle Bruce. I will miss you so much!!!! I still can’t believe I was just talking to you 2weeks ago. You always talked about how I’m growing up so fast and asked me about school.  You were the only man that I could call the wizard of electronics.It came as a total shock to me when I found out. I’ll be praying for you and of course my aunt and cousins. I feel so awful. Thanks for taking me ice skating for the first time you know how much I wanted to go. I appreciate everything you ever did for me. I can’t stop thinking about you and I love you. Sooooooo much <3 );
anisa/ aj

David Gibbons says

I had the pleasure of knowing Bruce for about the past 10 years. In my experience, he was everything people have said about him-warm, funny, egoless, brilliant, gentlemanly-and if you worked in pro audio, inspirational. I always felt privileged to know him, but he was so easy-going, you just felt glad to be with him. He and I talked about digital console design from time to time while I was working through the design cycle for the Digidesign VENUE consoles. He was working on the Lake Contour at the same time, and I could tell he was itching to do another mixing console design. It’s really too bad for the world of live mixing that he didn’t get a chance to do so. His legacy will guide us into the future; a better one for his having been here. Farewell Bruce.

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