RAN Technology

The Bob Heil Story


Ham Radio Information 0 Comments 05/21/2019

How a ham and sound engineer revolutionized rock and roll

Posted By: Robert Nickels (ranickels)
Post Date: 05/21/2019

 

He invented speakers, mixing boards and equipment that revolutionized concert sound.

And then there's the talk box.

Just ask Joe Walsh or Peter Frampton about Heil and his talk box innovation. The talk box Frampton made famous was a Christmas present from Frampton's wife Penny McCall, courtesy of Heil's design.

"So I sent Penny McCall a talk box," Heil said. "I don't even have to tell you the rest of the story, 'cause he does it quite well. And all of his interviews, he's very gracious and I appreciate it. He always gives me the kudos of building that and giving that to Penny, because it did make his career and he learned how to use it very well."

Heil's life changed forever on a night in 1970 at the Fox Theatre.

The Grateful Dead arrived in St. Louis without their sound equipment, which had been confiscated in New Orleans. Heil found himself on the phone with Jerry Garcia, the Dead's guitarist.

"Jerry said, 'You have all this gear, man. What kind of amplifiers do you have?' I said 'They're MacIntosh.' 'You have MacIntosh amplifiers?' I was just building a big hi-fi system, I didn't know. And so we took it up there that night and it was an amazing night," Heil said. "We went on the rest of that tour and we hit the front page of Billboard Magazine, that this little music shop in Marissa, Illinois, got the Grateful Dead contract."

After he improved the Grateful Dead's concert sound, rockers from all over the world sought out Heil -- although he didn't know most of them. 

Excerpted from KSDK - read the whole story here


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