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Wally Got It Right!

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For anyone in the Lighting biz, you might be familiar with something called a “Wally Award” (Wally Russell Lifetime Achievement Award) which, each year is given to someone who has contributed to the lighting industry in some outstanding way.I am generally not real “in to” these industry awards. Because we’re in such a small industry, the awards tend to be swayed easily by economics. In the past, I remember often being given awards simply because I spent the most money on a tradeshow booth, or an ad contract. Perhaps that’s not 100% true – but sure seemed to ring true more often than not. The “Wally Award” is much more authentic in that most times, they’ve come close to awarding people who I felt contributed greatly to our industry.I missed the award show this year, but was just cruising around on High End’s site ( and was reminded that Richard Belliveau was given the Wally Russell award this year. For anyone who doesn’t know who Richard is – or what his accomplishments are, please, take a moment and visit High End’s site – and check out the video. It’ll take 10 minutes of your life, and you’ll say “wow” when you realize the things he’s created. Kinda like going to a Billy Joel concert and realizing the number of hits he wrote…Richard is a person who I’d personally put in my Top Ten for lighting industry “Brains”. He single handedly changed the world of lighting by way of stuff like the I Beam, ColorPro, Data Flash – and Studio Color – even the F-100 Fogger, which, after all these years, is STILL the industry standard for performance foggers. I always wonder where exactly Belliveau – and High End – would be if it weren’t for Varilite clipping their wings a few years back by way of a very costly and damaging lawsuit.I remember walking into High End during my brief (but VERY fun!) tenure with them a few years ago. I looked around the room for a leader, and immediately focused on Richard. Some people called him eccentric, or even obnoxious – but I viewed Richard as the guy who was driving the bus. Not just from a technology standpoint, but also because he was so full of passion towards design, quality, support, etc. There were all sorts of stories like the one where Richard completely stopped millions of dollars in production on fixtures because of a fairly simple fault on a show, or wouldn’t allow magazines in bathrooms because it made people less productive on the job! (which job you ask…) but I personally saw Richard as a very passionate leader, and one that would be sorely missed during the period that High End chose to run without him recently.I also remember the days when High End Dealers were VERY proud. One such Dealer – Mark Rowlands from T2k once told me (when I was at Martin – and he was explaining why he wouldn’t give me an order YET AGAIN!) that whenever High End would release a new fixture, he gave them an “automatic” purchase order for at least a dozen – because he just knew it was going to be that good. I think that says an aweful lot about your customers’ faith in your design and development of new products. I know that High End sort of moved away from that… but…I am very happy that Richard is back in the ranks at High End. I for one would bet that the future of that company is far brighter now. I am quite looking forward to whatever it is that Richard’s genius mind will dream up.

Author: Marcel Fairbairn

Our expert sales team, collectively, have over 50 years experience in the sound, lighting, production and music industry.

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