Remembering Bruce Jackson

UPDATE 9 Feb:  An Australian memorial service will be held for Bruce in the Sydney Opera House on 25 Feb at 10AM. U.S. memorial service is being planned. Will post date and location when available. There’s a chance it will held in the Spring.

. . . .

1 Feb:  There has been a rumor floating around the audio industry nets today, and sadly the rumor was just confirmed true. My dear friend Bruce Jackson was killed in his private plane when it crashed in the California desert on Saturday. Bruce loved to fly his fast little Mooney single-engine aircraft. I understand that his wife, Terri, was informed last night. I last saw Bruce about four months ago. I’ve included some photos from a visit Bruce and  family made to Placerville a few years ago. He took Dan and Cynthia up for a ride in the Mooney and let young Daniel be the pilot.

Besides being a genuinely sweet soul, Bruce will be remembered as one of the greatest audio engineering talents of the last four decades. After building his audio business into the largest sound company in Australia, Bruce started his U.S. career as Elvis Presley’s live sound engineer (oh, the stories he told) and was Elvis’s private jet pilot. Bruce would go on to engineer for (among countless others) Bruce Springsteen, Fleetwood Mac, Johnny Cash, and Barbra Streisand (including the legendary Millennium Concert, the highest grossing one night performance in live music history). Bruce founded the electronics company Apogee Electronics, and later Lake Technology, which was acquired by Dolby Labs.

Bruce was selected as the audio designer / director for no fewer than three recent Olympics (Australia, China, Canada). The leading U.S. live sound magazine of the day did a cover story hailing Bruce as “Live Sound Engineer of the Century.”

I’ll never forget the Streisand Millennium concert (01-01-00). After the show, I was hanging out with Bruce at the front-of-house mixer (a big Midas, for you audio geeks). Bruce had something like 100 channels of my mic amplifiers on stage (full orchestra), and Bab’s vocal path included our NSEQ parametric EQ and TCL compressor. The house (15,000 seat MGM auditorium) was now empty, but Barbara is coming back out to do “pickups” for the TV special.

So Bruce needs to run back stage and asks me to babysit the console. He says, “if Barbara comes back out, un-mute her microphone.”  Not long after Bruce leaves me, Babs comes walking out on stage. So I un-mute her channel and . . . . . . . SSSCCCCREEEEEEETTTCHHHHHH !!!!!!!!!  Massive piercing feedback pumped into 20,000 watts of a Clair Brothers Line Array (apparently, the acoustic signature of the empty room was less absorbent and more prone to feedback, even though her audio gain hadn’t changed). It took me about five seconds to get over the shock and pull down her fader. About the only thing I remember after that was Streisand yelling something at me, and then a few seconds later Bruce sprinting back to the console!

Bruce leaves behind a great many people who will miss him terribly, including his beautiful family.

Bruce and my better half Cynthia on a walk around our neighborhood.


Cynthia getting ready for a flight around the Sierras with Bruce and Daniel


After going through these photos, I remembered that Daniel (8?) was running around the airplane and bumped his head pretty good on the wing. I snapped this photo right after that happened. Ouch!


Dan’s first flight. Bruce let him pilot the aircraft.


Cynthia, Dan, Bruce’s daughter Brianna, his wife Terri, and Bruce. On an evening stroll in historic downtown Placerville.


Terri, Brianna, and Daniel in the hood


Tail Number N50BJ – so long buddy

Other memorials:

2 thoughts on “Remembering Bruce Jackson

  1. John – heard about it this morning myself. I remember flying with Bruce down from Novato to Santa Monica on a number of occasions… And remember saying to Bruce, “what happens if the #1 engine fails, when there isn’t a #2?…”

    Bruce was a very experienced flyer who as far as I could see never ever took risks so I can’t imagine what could have gone wrong.

  2. Very sad to hear this. My condolences to his family and friends.

    I was associated with Apogee Electronics for several years and as a result worked with Bruce quite closely to describe and promote his technological developments in digital audio: curiously I never knew him in the live-sound environment at all! On one occasion during that period I flew with him in the Mooney from Santa Monica Airport, where Apogee was then based, to San Francisco – a wonderful experience.

    I learned a lot from Bruce about digital audio and about product design for the field. His early and deep understanding of the underlying principles which were, at the time, arcane or even unknown to much of the rest of the industry, gave Apogee a leading edge. He was indeed a major industry talent.

    Bruce will be sorely missed.

Comments are closed.