Our basis for Guitardoor has been about the Guitar Player, yet sometimes you find a curve in the road and it’s a way to give credit to the people behind the Player.
The Crew of any band large enough to have one is the Machine that ensures you aren’t looking at a stage lit by candlelight. A good Lighting man and crew are as integral to the success of the show as the sound man and the Band themselves. They provided the WOW factor as technology progresses and even back in the day, you needed the atmosphere of the visual, and the people who work tirelessly are not spoken of nearly enough.
Chatting With Chet
I encountered Chet Croxton in a Guitar Group he was exiting, like myself has respect for the freedom of people to be who they are and there was some hate flying toward an older Gentleman who was just playing his guitar the way he played. He made his exit with words of critical wisdom. I decided to reach out and talk with him on the Guitar playing Level and found a whole other story.
At first, we were on the subject of Guitar addiction. At some point, I had decided I wanted to write about Alex Lifeson as RUSH was not only my first concert back in 1984 but the Band’s music has always been a massive part of my life. Chet as it turned out was not only a fan as well, He was on Tour a few times as Lighting Director and As RUSH freaks know, the crew are friends and extended family of the Band. This isn’t solely about one band, however, it’s the story of Many and a Fellow who made his way through numerous situations and there is no doubt many of you reading this have been at a show where part of the Magic of the night was in his vision and in his hands.
Chet’s Musical Career
Chet’s story into music entertainment began with those wonderful parental words “Get a Job!” and as a teenager talked his way into a gig being a DJ at a rollerskating rink. Not a bad gig for a young man. He at first thought he had found his profession yet, as often happens we learn there’s always something else around the corner.
By The Mid 80’s he had made many a friend and had been introduced to the rough and tumble music scene of the D.C. area and was called upon to not be a DJ but fill in for the light man on a gig a friends band “Tripping on Rats” was playing with a band called “OVERKILL”. Relying on Logic and Instinct of following the Drummer for his rhythmic foundation of this task he did so well his name carried around in the circles and he came into other opportunities.
He became acquainted with the owners of “Cellar Door Entertainment” who would later own “Ticketmaster” for a lengthy period of time. One thing led to another his work schedule and name grew. He was not only working with bands but was brought in to design, purchase the gear and assemble a system for a Large venue called “Nation” and all told given the sole responsibility of making decisions with a budget of 1.8 Million dollars. He began to Cross paths with the likes of L7 and a guy named Bob Rock and a hefty list of others. Reputation is the calling card and Chet’s Reputation in the work was ever-increasing.
Chet Croxton was called in to replace a lighting member due to an unfortunate emergency For RUSH on the European Leg of the “Presto” Tour as well as some dates in Canada. He was carried over again to work With the Band on their “Roll the Bones” Tour of Europe and another go Round on the “Counterparts” Tour in Asia, Europe, The U.S., and Canada.
Rush on ABC (Japan) part 1
Rush on ABC (Japan) part 2
He fondly recalled not only the fun involved with all three members of RUSH but their kindness and concern to advise him on the Business. He recalled Geddy and Alex both sitting down and explaining he needed to know the ins and outs of the legal and financial aspects of a “Tech Rider” contract on Pay and even how to get your Laundry done contractually. Friends as much as employers, RUSH has always been a top-notch human being. In time Chet acquired the band’s very first Lighting Board used for many years. Trading work for this Rare piece of history. It is secured in an undisclosed location.
Not Long after the RUSH Tours, he was hired on to do a little thing you may have Heard of called “Lollapalooza” and worked that from 1991 to 1993.
Lollapalooza 1991 to 1996 – Short Documentary
One stand-out stint of work was With The Jerry Garcia Band. Chet ran Liquid light shows for the band and was a willing and ready Partner in Shenanigans with Mr. Jerry G.
He was hired to work his magic by the Legendary JAXX Nightclub in Springfield, Virginia from 1996 to 2000 and was Bestowed the name “ LIGHT GOD” by Zakk Wylde of Black Label Society.
The number of people Chet worked with within one situation or another is a staggering list.
Joan Jett, April Wine, It’s a Beautiful Day, The Dead Kennedy’s, GODHEAD, Robin Trower, Pat Travers, Alice In Chains, Todd Rundgren, David Allen Coe, Trent Reznor, Faster PussyCat, The Plasmatics, Dokken, Lynch Mob, Vince Neil, and more.
Many continue to be personal friends such as Joe Lynne Turner, Miles Kennedy, John Corabi and that list goes on as long as the Roads he’s traveled.
He has also been witness to the Sex Drugs and Rock N Roll life that holds many stories most of which cannot be mentioned here. One that brought me to Laughter was Mayhem Drummer “Hellhammer” challenging Chet and friends to a Drinking contest and later wondering exactly what happened the next morning.
Chapter 114 “Vanilla Ice”
Now Personally I’ve had some phone calls that were surprising but I doubt anyone can say this sort of call Happened to them other than Chet. When The IceMan made his Metal record he began a tour and when he came through the area a friend called up Chet to get him to Ride Along. A Backstage discussion on Chet’s Tattoo work culminated by Bringing him home to do some Tattoo work On Rob. This began a great friendship to this day. A few years later He was invited to another gig to dress like a maniac clown as part of the show.. (see excerpts from a forthcoming Documentary Chet is included below)
Chet Croxton is a self-described Guitar collector, he shuns saying, player. He is also one of the most straightforward and colorful characters I’ve had the pleasure to speak to, and I’m sure this is another friendship made. You can’t help but Like the man We share a love for Cliff Burton rest his soul and Our list of players we didn’t get to see and that sucks for us is pretty Short. Randy Rhoades.
After Speaking of his entire amazing career Chet told me “with me, the most important thing I ever accomplished in the music business was giving the local acts a fair shake while the headliners felt insecure. Making the local acts look like rock stars while their friends and parents videoed or watched was more important than any paycheck or road trip.. their gratitude and friendships were far more important to me..”
The words of a True good and ethical man.
So in closing remember when you go to a show, or take a stage to perform yourself be it a bar or the Megadome there are people to thank. The men who make it all happen whose names you don’t know. There’s nothing to hear without the sound Crew and the Magic of Production are your Lighting and effects experts. Without them, you are Standing in a Darkroom waiting on nothing. The Tail doesn’t wag the Dog.