Clair Opens Rock Lititz Studio with Flair
(LITITZ, PA) –The dark grey monolithic Rock Lititz Studio stands over 100 feet high, a rock Gibraltar rising out of rolling farmland. It is a monument to Roy Clair’s vision and his uncanny ability to anticipate and meet the needs of top-level performers. You might even say he’s Clair-voyant.
On Saturday, Clair’s dream studio, built on a Lancaster County cornfield in cooperation with Tait Towers, opened with a fitting celebration. With confetti cannons and a monstrous lighting fixture fresh from an appearance at the VMAs, it was a fitting spectacle for the studio where bands will prepare to launch live performances.
“It’s extremely exciting,” said Roy Clair, who founded Clair Brothers, now Clair Global, in 1966 with his late brother Gene. “I just don’t have the words for it. It’s unbelievable.”
Rock Lititz Studio features a 52,000 square-foot rehearsal space, production office, dining area, and rock star dressing rooms decorated with electric guitars. The facility already has bookings into 2015.
If you build it, they will strum.
Rock Lititz is destined to strike a chord with touring musicians, drawing them to Lititz like Hollywood draws filmmakers, so that they can assemble, program, and test their high-tech spectacles with ease under one roof.
One very tall roof, that is.
The building is big enough to fit two of Penn Ketchum’s IMAX theatres inside, has an 80-foot high grid that boasts the capability to hold over a million pounds of equipment, and can house stage, sound, lights, and video. Performers can even test pyrotechnics and push new limits in live concert capabilities.
Rock Lititz would not exist today had Clair had not disagreed with his clients early in his career. The Lititz native knew way back in 1966 that there was a better way to provide sound for live performances, so he and his brother Gene, who passed away late last year, formed Clair Brothers in their hometown.
“Originally, when my brother and I started, all of our clients said we’d have to move out of Lititz if we’re going to make it,” said Clair. “So it’s very special that we stayed here and we, so to speak, made it.”
“Made it” could not be more of an understatement for Clair.
Their business became the frontrunner in sound reinforcement for the live performance industry, providing sound for a long list of musical legends. In an industry that is infamous for one-hit wonders, Clair’s foresight and innovation have led to long-term success: a nearly-40-year track record of phenomenal growth and cutting-edge technological advancement.
After the massive prop electrical switch was thrown onstage Saturday signaling the grand opening of Rock Lititz, Clair and Tait circulated among workers and well-wishers as songs by their clients sounded from massive speakers in the cavernous hall, the only purpose-built rehearsal facility in the world. They credited locals for contributing to the success of their businesses and paved the way for the new studio.
“I’m very lucky to have employees who love to work, who love to work hard, they have a work ethic that can’t be beaten,” said Michael Tait. “They’re dedicated and amazingly talented. They don’t move away somewhere else because they love their work.”
Some guests climbed the stairs and crossed the catwalk to the stage, standing onstage where the world’s greatest performers will soon rehearse. For friends Lavelle Hess and Melanie Lightner, it was a rock star moment.
Hess’ husband, Tim, is part owner of Herzler Electric, a contractor on the facility whose team completed their work in only four months. Hess hopes to continue work on other buildings being added to the campus.
Nearby on a lower stage, Martha Levine took a turn at throwing the gigantic prop electrical switch used in the opening ceremony while friend John Whiting snapped a photo.
“I remember when they had the original building in downtown Lititz,” said Levine. She and Whiting were guests of long-time friend and Tait Towers employee Kat Retherford.
Recalling the early days at Tait, when “everybody did a little bit of everything,” Retherford, a 25-year veteran with the company who now sews the black masking that covers the bottom of the famous stages, has witnessed a lot of changes in the business. “It’s gotten more specialized over the years,” she said.
At the opposite end of the building, a couple stood gazing up at a what seemed an endless flight of stairs. Matthew Lotito, a lead designer at Tait Towers for the past four and half years in charge of staging and structures, was showing his wife the new heights he had reached in his work when he climbed the stairs on a facility tour.
Though mum about who will be the first performers to grace the new facility stage, he acknowledged that he and his team have worked in the past to create designs for Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Madonna, Metallica, MTV, and the VMAs.
“I’m super excited to be a part of something like this,” Lotito said. “It’s big, it’s the first structure to go up, and it’s just for rehearsals. To be a part of it is a fantastic opportunity.”
Lynn Rebuck writes about entertainment and businesses for LititzDailyNews.com. She welcomes your comments and questions at editor@LititzDaily.com. © 2014 Lynn Rebuck