Bruce Jackson, Elvis Presley Sound Engineer

By: Elvis Australia
February 2, 2011

Australian Bruce Jackson was a tour sound engineer for Elvis Presley along with a who's who of stars. Bruce worked for Elvis over a six-year period from 1971 up until Elvis final concert in 1977.

Elvis introduced Bruce many times by name on stage and he can be seen briefly at the control board in the 1977 'CBS Special'. In fact towards the end of Elvis' very last concert on June 26, 1977, Elvis thanked, Bruce 'I would like to thank my sound engineer, Bruce Jackson, from Australia'.

Bruce was an Australian audio legend and his star-studded live mixing credits have include such names as Elvis Presley, Bruce Springsteen, Barbra Streisand, Dianna Ross, Johnny Cash, Fleetwood Mac, Stevie Wonder, Rod Stewart and the Faces, Barry White, Jefferson Airplane, Ozzy Osbourne (Black Sabbath), Jackson 5, Cat Stevens, Art Garfunkel and Lou Reid ... just to name a few. Following is an excerpt from an interview.

Bruce was the head sound engineer of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.

You were born in Australia, so how did you end up living in the US?

BJ: 'I went to the US in the early 70s. I'd met up with Roy Clare of Clare Brothers, when he was in town doing 'Blood Sweat & Tears', in either '69 or '70. And this was the first time we'd seen one of the big overseas PA's in Australia. Everything before that was the stuff that we used to make, which was columns. Dynacord and all these other companies were just basically producing speaker columns. I knew a way through the back fence, and so I took a friend of mine, Russell Dallas. We climbed over, checked it out, and were just amazed. So I went up and started talking to Roy Clare. They were a very small company, but Clare Brothers were now by far the most dominant sound company, and he said that he would like to leave the PA here and do a Johnny Cash tour coming up. It was going to be about six months later, and he asked if I would I mind looking after it and helping him out.

I was glad to do that and learn about the new technology. I ended up doing that tour with him, and he said, 'When you come across to London, stop off in the States if you like, and visit'. And so I did and ended up staying. I helped out with electronic ideas and designs, and also went out on the road as an engineer. It was at the same time when Elvis Presley had started touring again and was using different sound companies in different areas. And fortunately, everything went well when I did the shows'.

Mixing for Elvis must have been some experience.

What memories do you have of this significant period of your career?

BJ: 'It was over a six-year period, and it was hard work. I remember it was hard work, and you are not particularly aware that it's a big deal at the time, other than it's great fun traveling around on that level. You know, because the police loved him so much we'd have the police captains and sergeants, and everyone running us around. And no one toured on the same level, with four or five jet planes. And we used to have like the Playboy plane. So I'd go out with him, and the limo would pull up, you'd walk the stairs up to this black plane with a bunny on the tail, and there'd be the bunnies in there serving us. It was just an amazing lifestyle. And over the years I got to know him real well, so that was a really good experience. And in hindsight, I realize how lucky I was, but at the time it was like lots and lots of shows, hundreds of shows, and a lot of hard work'.

  • Bruce claimed to have a large number of Elvis soundboard concert recordings.

Bruce Jackson (3 June 1949 – 29 January 2011) was an Australian audio engineer who co-founded JANDS, an Australian audio, lighting and staging company. He joined American touring audio engineer Roy Clair and mixed concert stage monitors for Elvis Presley in the 1970s. With Clair Brothers, a concert sound company, Jackson designed audio electronics including a custom mixing console. Beginning in 1978, Jackson toured as Bruce Springsteen's band engineer for a decade, using Clair Brothers sound systems. A business interest in Fairlight CMI in Sydney introduced Jackson to digital audio, and he subsequently founded the digital audio company Apogee Electronics in Santa Monica, California, where he lived at the time. After selling his share of Apogee, Jackson co-founded with Roy and Tony Clair a joint venture which produced the Clair iO, a loudspeaker management system for control of complex concert sound systems. Jackson turned the venture commercial with the help of Dave McGrath's Lake Technology. Dolby Laboratories bought the technology and formed Dolby Lake with Jackson as vice president, then in 2009 Lab.gruppen acquired the brand. Jackson was honored with the Parnelli Innovator Award in 2005 for his inventive loudspeaker controller. While still a partner at Apogee, Jackson began touring with Barbra Streisand, mixing concert sound and serving as the sound designer from 1993 to 2007. With two other audio engineers, he received an Emmy Award for sound design and sound mixing on Streisand's TV special Barbra: The Concert. Jackson worked on sound design for the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney and served as audio director for the opening and closing ceremonies. He performed the same role in Doha, Qatar, at the 2006 Asian Games and in Vancouver, Canada, at the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Bruce Jackson was killed in a plane crash in Palm Springs January 29, 2011.

Interviews with or about Elvis Presley Interview with Bruce Jackson, Sonic Genius (1949-2011) by Shawn Poole

Interviews with or about Elvis Presley Interview with Elvis Presley's Sound Engineer, Bill Porter by Michael Fermer

Interviews with or about Elvis Presley Bruce Springsteen Talks and Sings about Elvis
Articles about Elvis Presley The Night Springsteen Jumped the Fence at Graceland
Articles about Elvis Presley Behind the Button: Elvis Presley's 'Cameo' on Born to Run
Articles about Elvis Presley Elvis and Bruce : Special Feature in Backstreets : The Boss Magazine

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