profiles - a light-hearted look at industry personalities
No. 16 in a continuing series
Chief Executive Officer, TMB Associates
Colin ‘Babbling' Waters has been a part of the entertainment industry since the age of 19 when he went to work for a band called Quiver, "the Grateful Dead of England". His duties included driving the truck and assisting in sound set-up. He also liaised with young women on behalf of the band.
Quiver opened for some of the bands who led the English invasion of the US such as the Who and Elton John, and in 1971 Colin made his first visit to America and went to Lititz, Pa. to prep the system touring with Elton. Finally arriving at the hotel after a long day of travel, Colin ended up skinny dipping for the first time. His first impression of intercontinental tourism was: "isn't America great?" For those too young to remember, English pubs used to close at 10:30 pm so visiting English roadies were always overwhelmed and occasionally over-served by U.S. closing hours of midnight or 1 am.
Surviving his first US tour, Colin returned to England and went to work for Rickki Farr of Electrosound. He then toured with bands like Traffic, Procol Harum, and Bob Marley. Marshall Bissett (his present-day business partner) veered into Colin's life when working on lighting for the first Blue Oyster Cult European tour in 1974. Soon after, Colin accompanied Robin Trower to the States, promptly falling off the speaker stacks in Des Moines and braking his arm in the process. This event saw the beginning of his management career.
Displaying a flawless sense of timing, Colin again returned to the US in 1975 with a container full of sound gear and arrived the very same day his client, Alice Cooper, decided to check into the equivalent of the Betty Ford Clinic, thereby bringing the tour to an abrupt finale. Colin decided to take the container to Hollywood and became the sound rental company, Electrosound US, and since he was the only employee in the country, he became general manager and the first vice president of the company.
In the late 70's Electrosound found they needed a lighting arm and merged with Tom Fields Lighting of Boston and became TFA/Electrosound. Colin joined with a former TFA employee, Tim Mahoney, and tried to buy the company in 1981. The offer was refused and Colin was heartbroken but used his vast experience to jump start his next career: Professional Fishing Guide.
During this ‘fishing' period, Marshall Bissett moved to America to run the lighting side of TFA/Electrosound and became aquainted with Colin again, this time on the fishing circuit. When Electrosound fell apart and Marshall started TMB to feed himself and his fishing habit, Colin eventually convinced him that two people could accomplish twice as much as one and they should be partners. Marshall acknowledges that this was the only time in the history of the company that output changed equally with the number of employees.
Colin has now replaced the excitement of the road and live entertainment with volunteer work and financial support for ESTA's Technical Standards Commiteee. He has been involved with this from the start of ESTA's operations. As he says, "having grown up with our industry it is fun to see it trying to act grown up."
The funniest printable story about Colin concerns an evening in The Bailey's Hotel in London. After lobbying hard in the bar for one of the TSC working groups, Colin retired for the night. Nature called early in the morning and Colin, who sleeps nude, went to the bathroom. Returning, and possibly confused by the early hour, he turned the wrong way out of the bathroom and proceeded through the hallway door. As the door clicked shut as Colin realised he was now standing in the hall with the key to his room safely on the table by the bed. Ask him how he got back into the room!
This profile is based on an 'original' by Keny Whitwright of Wybron, Inc in Protocol, the magazine of ESTA.
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