News

8 Feb 2006

Gerry Georgettis takes own life

In a tragic tale, ex-pat Australian sound engineer Gerry Georgettis took his own life on board a United Airlines flight from Washington to Los Angeles in early February. The flight was diverted to Denver, after crew discovered Gerry in the lavatory, where he had somehow killed himself. People who knew the 56 year old theatre manager from North Miami Beach were agog that he took his life. The story has a massive prelude……

Gerry was from Melbourne, one of the pioneers of the road from the 1970’s. He worked for a stellar assortment of great acts, doing sound for Cold Chisel before migrating to the USA. He worked on Loolapalooza, and did shows with major international acts including Red Hot Chili Peppers.

He was working in a theatre, with nothing untoward in his life until Saturday February 4th.

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The Miami Herald picks up the story:

In a case that drew widespread attention in South Florida, police say that on Saturday Georgettis was upset with the deal he got on a Ford Escape at the Metro Ford dealership at 900 NW Seventh Ave.

Georgettis plowed the new car into the showroom glass, then set the business on fire, Miami-Dade police. He worked for the city of North Miami Beach and handed in his resignation on Monday.

”I’m shocked. I still can’t believe it,” North Miami Beach Mayor Raymond Marin told The Miami Herald Thursday morning. “I know him as nothing more than an nice guy. I can’t say anything bad about him. I don’t know what happened.”

Friends from the road. including Mark Keegan, Spy Matthews and Harry Parsons were all shocked that Gerry had reacted that way and then taken his own life.

Gerry was a quiet and very strong person. This writer recalls him acting as sole crew member for band La De Das. He would drive their horrible, uncomfortable slow Toyota Dyna truck from Melbourne to Sydney and return for a couple of gigs every other week. One time when the truck broke down, I took a truck to Tarcutta to rescue Gerry and the equipment. He routinely worked alone, lugging everything on his shoulders. It took a long time to set up all the stage gear, the PA and some lights, all alone.

He wasn’t massively built, but was a solid 5 foot 10 inches, and had an inner quality and calmness that few can match. Which is why his mind snap at the Ford Dealership was just slightly out of character. He caused more than a million dollars in damage, and made a statement.

By chance, the only time I saw him really light up and look excited was when I caused a show to be cancelled at Paddington Town Hall, by blowing up the support band on stage with a misjudged pyro charge. His band arrived just as the shell shocked audience departed, amidst broken glass and ambulances.

Gerry was telling them what happened, and trying to convey the size of the blast, his arms windmilling as he went ‘B-A-N-G’, his band members jaws sagging open in disbelief. Most other band crews would have been very hostile towards a lighting guy whose lunacy had literally blown their show away.

Gerry was sanguine. “Could happen to anyone” he grunted, as we loaded out down those dim slippery stairs. He loaded and stacked his truck full, locked the doors, and drove off into the night.

Ted Gardiner co-owned the Lolapalooza festival and knew Gerry well. “He was the sane one, on the road with 140 people. He was a champion guy”, Ted says. “I spoke to him just a few weeks ago. He was extremely happy – his new girlfriend had bought him a Queensland Blue Heeler. Now she is taking his body home to Australia. I can’t believe it”.

Former Cold Chisel frontman Barnes has told News Limited newspapers he had been friends with Gerry since he was a teenager.

“Gerry Georgettis was one of my great friends,” Barnes was quoted as saying.

“He was the coolest guy I ever knew.

“He exposed me to great music and great musicians, and I would not be the singer or the person I am now without his influence.”

Do you have stories about Gerry? Hit the email button below, and send them. I’ll put them here……

– Julius Grafton

———————

Well, what a way to go.

Set fire to the town, alright mate.

I spent a helluva lot of time around the king of sound Gerry Georgettis in the 80’s. I was the girlfriend of Don Walker of Cold Chisel for 6 1/2 years, a journalist from Rock Australia Magazine (RAM) and other outlets, and manager of Don’s publishing company Burdikan.

From my favourite perch beside the mixing desk I got to appreciate how this steady, caring, dry-witted and 120% trustworthy man was the heart of Chisel live, delivering precision set-ups and happy, on-time crews that Chisel and their manager Rod Willis never had to spend a moment freaking out about.

They loved him with a passion.

Best of all, his mixes were A1 in venue after venue in Australia, the US and Canada. Lead vocals swapping and changing everywhere, mass harmonies, a range of keyboards and guitars, jazz blues like Georgia to frenetic rockabilly like Rising Sun or full-on rock assault like Merry-Go-Round, the singer diving into the crowd several times a night, backstage fights, 3 hour shows, 7 days a week, massive interstate hauls, stairs, 3am lugouts, no sleep, it didn’t matter.

It all sounded brilliant and it made Chisel – a live legend – bigger than an Allosaurus on heat.

The moral of the story is don’t buy a fucking car on credit.

Jen Jewel Brown

Your doing a great thing for someone many of us admired and will always remember with huge admiration and respect.

Please everyone don’t become a casualty no matter how hard it gets or how isolated you feel.

Many of us have not spoken for years and the friendship will never die.

Love you Gerry, I’ll miss that calm grin.

Ashley Swinfield

Of all the guys I knew ”way back then” Gerry would have been pretty much the last candidate for this sort of end.

I knew Gerry from around Melbourne in the 70’s of course, and also in later years his time with Chisel and mine with The Angels – we also had stints with KB in common – Gerry doing La-De-Das and me later doing Kevin Borich Express solo, including the 1980 UK experience with a young Watto and Tim Partridge.

Over the years we ran across each other from time to time, and Gerry was always positive, always professional, and always a gentleman.

The first glass tonight will be for Gerry.

Phil Eastick

Gorgeous Gerry, Greek God – why didn’t you just come home?

You had people (here) that would have been fighting to help you.

I can’t believe that we’ll never see you again.

In our hearts, forever,’hope you’ve found peace,

Please hug all the other roadies (up there).

If there’s a god – he’s got a great crew!

Peter McCrindle & Irene

Dear Gerry,

I haven’t seen him for ages but never forgot his beautiful smile and nice manners. Gerry did what!!! WHAT!!!!! Well I certainly would never have been able to do that on an aeroplane!! I don’t believe it!! not for a minute.

I think the rock ‘n roll community that knew Gerry will block this conspiracy theory.

God Bless You Gerry, I for one wish you were here to take care of my bills!!

Julesxxx (lil goose) good times, good pasta.

I meet Gerry, when I was just getting started in the industry, and had the pleasure and honour of working with him on a number of occasions over the years, the last and most notable, the first tour Jimmy Barnes did after Chisel!

You will be remembered with fond and happy memories my friend!

Brian Goff

Do you have any further details regarding Gerry’s body been flown back to Australia. As you will apprecaite the whole Cold Chisel family are absolutely stunned with the tragic news.

Rod Willis

Gerry – Hadn’t seen you in ages but you were one of those people where could just pick up where left off. You were always so kind, polite and caring.

You also made

bands sound good even when they might not have deserved to sound that good.

Rest in Peace my friend.

Colleen Ironside

We at Nova are saddened to here of the death of Gerry Georgettis. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends. It is always sad to here of past crew boys going in this way. I personally did not know Gerry, but I believe he had frequent dealings as did many from that era with Nova. I have attached a somewhat poor quality picture of Gerry giving us his thoughts of having to carry an old (but new then) Nova B4 mixing console all by himself.

Gerry has joined the band on the show that will never end.

Peter McCarthy

Nova Hire Pty Ltd

I’m in shock at Gerry’s passing, and even more so in such troubling circumstances. So sad! Another one of the pioneers bites the dust.

I know you’re flat out with Entech, but wondering if you know any details of Gerry’s funeral or family contacts.

Thanks,

Mike Emerson

“Cold Chisel roadie dies” said the headlines. I better have a look I thought. I never thought it would be Gerry. I worked with Gerry in the 70’s.

I was living in a house in Toorak and one of the ladies had invited Gerry around for dinner. He had given up being a roadie and was working at The Toorak Hotel as a delivery man.

Arthur James had been working for Stevie Wright and the All-star Band and left. They contacted Gerry and talked him into going back on the road. After dinner he said that he had to go and find someone to do front of house for the upcoming tour. I said that I had done some roadie work in Canberra.

Gerry said if I can get to Sydney in a couple of days the job was mine. And so started some of the best times on the road with some of best musicians I had heard. The line-up was Stevie Wright, John Paul Young, Kevin Borich, Ian “Willie” Winter, Ronnie Peel, Warren Morgan and Johnny Dick.

This line-up did Steven’s last major tour and worked with JPY for a while.We also worked as The La De Da’s with Ian on guitar as well as KB.

When JPY toured again KB left to do his own thing and recruited Harry Brus and Barry Harvey. Gerry and I christened the band Brus, Goose & Borich.

In 1978 we went to the USA with John Annas and Paul Christie and we stayed in LA with Michael Chugg.

KB recorded “No Turning Back” and did some gigs with ACDC. Returning to Australia Gerry got the offer from Cold Chisel and I started The Willie Winter Band with Ian Winter.

Gerry and I spent many hours together in the truck/hotel rooms/setting up and partying. I don’t think we ever argued.

We both liked similar music and he kept in touch after “hitting the big time” His mother and my mother both lived in the same street in Highett.

The last time I saw him was when he was tour manager for Whitney Houston and they were in Canberra. He called me up and asked if I would like to have dinner and come along and see the show. He didn’t have to, but he did … that was Gerry.

I worked and played with Gerry Georgettis and I have no complaints.

Hammer Down Gerry

Love Baz

I was devastated to get a call from Jim MacMillan of CCS checking to see if I had heard anything about Gerry from my office at Delicate Productions in L.A. and to find out that indeed my old mate had passed away.

Gerry and I go back a long way, longer than I can guarantee accurate recall but at least from Strauss/Nova Sound days in the 70’s when Gerry, Wyn Milsom, Andy Rayson, Barney Deutscher and I were working with Thorpie and the Aztecs on an outdoor tour of Queensland. We did many miles in the 2 Avis trucks aided by enthusiasm and some great Nepalese Black Putty and somehow managed to avoid the QLD cops in the days where they didn’t like rock and roll long hairs one bit!

After I moved to L.A. with Supertramp, Gerry made it over with Kevin Borich and had a house just down the canyon from my place in Topanga. I have attached a photo of Gerry round the pool having a good time as was his custom!!

Our paths crossed many times as Delicate was supplying audio and lighting for Janes Addiction and the Lollapallooza Festival for Ted Gardner who was my mate from the Men At Work tour of the USA.

Gerry also was as I recall in command of the Brit Row quad PA set up for Pink Floyd tour (sorry can’t remember the year) and was good mates with my L.A. housemate Ziggy Bartlett who was doing Floyd’s projection and went on to JBL and now Sennheiser.

Over the years Gerry and I were often in touch as he worked with US based bands and then I was glad to hear that he had a gig managing a performance center in Florida and was enjoying his life off the road.

I moved back to Aussie in 96 and last saw Gerry and his lady at a dinner here in Melbourne at Dianne Woodward’s a couple of years ago. He was so happy and so Gerry..loving every minute of being with his old friends.. that this is the way I will remember him.

The Golden Greek has left the building and it’s a sad day for us old road dogs.

Condolences from Shaz and myself to his family.

Spy Matthews

I stumbled across your site after googling Gerrys name because i knew he would have many many friends in Melbourne & Australia that would have heard of his tragic death. My name is Jim and I am a relative of his. Although i did not know him as well as i would have liked to (being related to him meant seeing him on the odd occassion, usually weddings, dinners and other family do’s – then he would go back to his home – on the road) he always was a kind hearted, warm, loving person and had a presence about him each time he walked into the room

I have vivid memories of the late 80’s where on one particular sunday we were chatting outside a church where we there was a family wedding taking place. Gerry was in town with Bon Jovi and once he discovered i had a passion for rock music, he quickly provided myself and my brother with front row Bon Jovi tickets for the Slippery When Wet tour, no questions asked. This is the type of man he was.

I was extremly saddened what i got a phone call regarding his death last Thursday night. In my mind there will be no one else like him. Our family is shocked at his death and i’ve spent the last 4 days wondering how the hell things ended up like this. Reading the news reports from overseas and the ones that have trickled through to Australia have been sometimes rough to deal with, especially some journo’s who never knew him and labeled him as crazy or a madman.

Jim

Enough is Enough, Let’s Have No More Gerry’s”

In loving memory of those who left us because of their pain

I have watched yet another person I loved and respected needlessly take his own life.

Once the grief subsided I was overtaken by anger, not anger at Gerry but anger at the fact that there seems there is nothing we can do to stop it. A call from my older brother has helped put things into perspective for me; he pointed out to me that we ‘roadies’ are different to the norm, somewhat like the Vietnam vets, damaged by their experiences, some physical, some mental, some both. The vets have done something about it and it is time that we did the same for our ‘brothers’.

My brother pointed out to me my constant references to ‘civvies’ and ‘civvie’ street; similar to the vets, we roadies find it hard to assimilate into normal society after our past experiences. Many of us are dysfunctional, depressed, drug addicts, anti social, homeless, poor work prospects etc., the usual areas of help don’t seem to fit our needs, how could they understand what we did, where we have been, where we are now? How can we speak to our comrades without shame, we want to cry out for help but are held back by the shame of not being men, not coping, not handling it, yet many of us, if not all, are in the same boat. It’s time there was a help line dedicated to helping ourselves, a place where the ‘Gerry’s’ can come for nurturing, a help line manned by those who understand what they are going through because they have been there or are there themselves, manned by people they respect and feel they can depend

on.

On the road we knew without asking that we were all there for each other, if our backs were against the wall, and they often were, you didn’t have to look sideways to make sure your mate was there, it went without saying, it was something you could depend on. Now more than ever we need the same principle. It was our world, no-one else understood it, we were looked down on, we played up to that of course, after all, we are human, just. We won’t be able to accept help from others, it must come from our peers, those we respect unconditionally.

All of us know depression, bad knees, bad backs, loneliness, broken marriages, poverty, no prospects for the future, low self-esteem. And what do we do about it, we donate money towards our mates funerals, it’s time we stepped in before the funeral, if we can prevent one funeral then the effort will be worthwhile, Gerry will not have died in vain. I’m tired of watching talented, gifted men I respect crumpled by society on ‘civvy’ street. Blaming themselves because they don’t fit in; they do fit in, it’s socalled normal society that doesn’t fit them.

Yes we are drug addicts, alcoholics, violent, depressed, we are scarred, Physically and mentally, most of us display at least one of these symptoms, but where does the blame lie. Firstly, there is no blame, we are the products of a lifestyle where there were no options, long working hours, even longer car and truck drives, understaffed load ins.

At times we were nothing more than pack mules. I defy anyone to unload ten ton of gear, carry it up several flights of stairs, set it up, sound check a band, do a show, pack it down, back down the stairs, back into the truck and then drive to the next town, and not do drugs, drink too much, look for a supporting crutch etc.

Many people made money from this period, a lot of money. I don’t begrudge these people, that’s life in the real world. I know of very few roadies who made their fortune on the road. It is time for those who made their wealth in this period to put something back, they massage their conscience’s with donations to Green peace, Amnesty International and the like, it’s time that they contributed to alleviating the crisis they helped, inadvertently, to create. We worked in a time of no workers comp, no sick pay, no super, no long service, and no holiday pay; and when we broke we were discarded by the wayside and replaced with another willing pack mule.

I’m not talking about labourers here, I’m discussing talented sound engineers, lighting designers, stage technicians, people who learnt their craft, in many cases created their craft, perfected it.

What was sacrificed by these people? Firstly and most importantly, a normal life. A spouse, family, a stable home, a stable income; normality. Did we do so knowingly?

Yes.

Were we aware of the consequences?

No.

We were going where no-one had been before, a new trade, a new craft, how could we know what that would mean later in life.

What do we want? A man I admire greatly, a mentor, Scrooge, put it in a nutshell for me, ‘we want our dignity back’. With respect, this is not about musicians, they have their problems, but a benefit can ease their burden, where are the benefits for those of us killed in truck and car accidents on highways in the middle of the night, the overdoses in hotel rooms filled with loneliness.

The only rare benefits I have seen for road crew have been to raise funds for those who cannot afford even to bury themselves. We need to help ourselves before then, we need to help each other regain the most basic of human emotions, dignity, self esteem, pride and self worth. Most importantly we need to remind each other how important we are to each other. There is a bond, a spirit, between us all, not the pretenders, they came and went, but those of us who chose this as our career path.

And that is what this is, a career, it’s time that it is recognized for what it was and is.

We didn’t choose this career because it was easy or glamorous, God knows why we chose it or it chose us, but it was needed, someone had to do it, and to those who chose to follow that path, and excel in it, I salute you, for you stand tall amongst all men and women, for you have a quality that very few others have and even less will experience in their lifetime. You have strength, strength of heart and mind, a loyalty second to none, and a passion unmatched. Above all, you have a bond that links us all for eternity, an unspoken promise to each other that we are there for each other whenever needed, let us all remember that that bond is unconditional, and undeniable.

Gerry’s stories are not for the public domain, Gerry deserves better than tributes in magazines placed so that they might fill the pages and sell a few extra copies the following issue. We all know the ‘war’ stories of each other, we don’t need to share them in magazines and books, they are more than stories, they are our life history, they’re not to be shared with civilians to titillate and entertain them, they are our treasured memories of each other. To understand it, just like the vets in the jungle, you had to be there, otherwise it makes no sense. God love you Gerry, I know he will,

we all did.

Michael Lippold

Greetings from the States. Such sad news. I worked with Gerry G. on the Pink Floyd tours in the late ’80¹s.

Gerry was leading the ³quad-squad² and was responsible for getting 3 massive systems up countless stadium steps and making the locals thankful for the experience. It was a brutal task and he did his job with a calm professionalism often taken for granted.

A few years later when I was passing through Melbourne with Morrissey, Gerry looked me up. It was great to see him.

His heart and work ethic were as big as all of Australia. He was a credit to your great country and he¹ll be missed on this side of the pond.

My deepest condolences,

Jeffrey Scornavacca

The boy from Bogabilla

Around 1972 I was playing in a band in Melbourne and after a gig in Brunswick our keyboard player was hitch hiking home along Sydney Road when he was picked up by a big Greek lad driving an ex-PMG Commer van.

Gerry Georgettis was the driver, unemployed, with the desire to be a professional wrestler. Big, strong and owned a van, now he was the road manager for “London Express” with illustrations guitarists Wyn Milson and Dave Bray and managed by Martin Ciddor.

A few weeks later after a couple of good paying gigs we bought him a second hand 1 ton International van (in lieu of wages). With the first horn loaded PA in town and hanging around Nova Sound Gerry’s knowledge and skills grew rapidly.

He was a gentle giant but I remember playing at a gig renowned for fights when one inevitably broke out. As the brawl moved forwards towards the low stage with us still playing Gerry stepped in front of the band with a mic stand held across his chest. I have never seen a fight change direction so quickly to the back of the hall.

The band disbanded and Gerry moved into touring and eventually to Sydney and Cold Chisel and then on to the States and the rest is history.

A gentleman to the end. As a friend at ENTECH said to me “I was a ‘shit kicker’ moving black boxes in those days but Gerry always treated you with respect”.

A sad day for all especially his big family, Joy, Alec, Yvette and Paul.

Rick Browne

Venue Technical Services – Perth

(Nova Sound 1973 – 1987)

P.S. Bogabilla is just south of Gundawindi where Gerry grew up.

Gerry was born in Goondiwindi Hospital, it was on 10 April, 1949. I was born 6 months before him and we grew up in Boggabilla.

Gerry’s family had the cafe in Boggabilla and it was just a 100 metres from my home. Boggabilla was and still is a very small country town and consequently it was a very close knit community. Gerry and I, my cousin Brian McCosker, Sue Wood. John Tribe, Des Tribe, Ray Small, Bruce Connolly and many others were of course best mates when we were growing up and shared many of lifes early learning experiences of all kinds together.

We really grew up like brothers and sisters to Gerry, Joy and Alex and they to us. In our infant and teenage years we made that small town a great place to live and none of us ever thought we would leave. Of course to get on in life we had to leave , the country life simply could not provide the number of jobs that were needed.

Gerry finished his schooling in Goondiwindi and had many many friends there through school and after through the local Macintyre Rugby League Football Club where he was very popular and great fun to be with. From school he initially joined the Bank of New South Wales and I don’t think the Bank knew what hit them. It didn’t take long for him to realisethe banking game was not for him.

The Georgettis family left the town and headed to Melbourne in the late 60’s/early 70’s and with them went the heart of that small village of Boggabilla. The cafe had been the social centre of Boggabilla for so many years.

Our paths have crossed a number of times in the intervening years but not until a party to celebrate a significant birthday milestone for Joy several years ago did we really catch up and have maintained contact since, mainly by email and phone. Having spoken to him briefly only a few weeks ago I had no inkling that he had any problems that were worrying him and if he did he certainly did not convey it, but that really has always been the he was. He always cared about other people. I cannot recall in his 56 years everhearing him have a bad word to say about anyone.

With him around there was always laughter.

He was a very good mate and I and our great mutual friends will miss him so very much. Vale.

Greg McCosker

———————–

To All of Gerrys’ Friends,

Words cannot express the overwhelming support that you have all given us.

Gerry would be so proud.

We send our gratitude to all that sent flowers, cards,emails, phone calls ,the website, your presence at the chapel, your presence at the wake, your kind words, your comforting wisdom,

Gerry brought us all together for the day and collectively we gave him the greatest send off of all time.

We shall not forget it – We will never forget Gerry.

Thank you all for loving our Brother and Uncle.

We hope that when you think or talk about him , it’s with joy and laughter.

Yours sincerely

Joy, Paul,Al,Yvette

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