David Bernstein, Peter Morse and Sam Berkow to Receive Parnelli Honors for Career Achievement at 20th Annual Show
LAS VEGAS – The Parnelli Board of Advisors has announced that this year’s Parnelli honorees for career achievement are David Bernstein of Rock-it Cargo (Lifetime Achievement Award); Peter Morse, who has provided innovative lighting designs for some of the biggest most successful tours in live music history (Visionary Award); and Sam Berkow, who invented the SMAART software and designed some of our greatest-sounding concert halls (Audio Innovator Award).
“We’re excited to present the live event industry’s highest honor to these three distinguished honorees as they have all made an indelible mark in their respective fields,” says Parnelli Awards Executive Producer and PLSN/FOH Publisher Terry Lowe. “There contributions have been far-reaching and influential, and it’s hard to imagine what live touring would be without them. We are looking forward to giving them their due at the 20th Annual Awards in June, 2022.”
Parnelli Lifetime Achievement
In 1974, Bernstein, a recent high school grad, received a call from his older brother Joel who happened to be the touring photographer out with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. The band had shown up at Newark airport with more gear than could fit on the plane, and needed all the gear to get to London. Thus the teen began a career in the rock and roll freight forwarding business that had him acquiring the US version of UK-based Rock-it Cargo. The two companies merged in 2007, and today his far-reaching international company has become a dominant force behind not only the biggest tours and events. Rock-it has also branched out to film and television productions, sporting events, and theatrical productions. Today they have nine locations all over the world including London, Munich, and Shanghai.
Peter Morse was a singer/songwriter who sang with the New Christy Minstrels in the 1960s and released a few albums of his own, including one produced by Al Kooper. Meanwhile, he worked part-time for a college concert booking agency where he met several future stars including Mac Davis. Davis would hire him as a tour manager, and one day he told Morse to hire a lighting designer for $500 a week. Being nobody’s fool, Morse immediately piped up that he could do the job when in fact he had “never even paid attention to lights.”
He quickly taught himself well and would work with other acts. One was Loretta Lynn, who hired him to design her Las Vegas residency, and he was one of the first to reject the house lights to bring in a much more dynamic system with great results, greatly influencing and raising the bar for future Las Vegas residencies.
Other acts he worked with included Tina Turner, The Pointer Sisters, Michael Bolton, Lionel Richie, and Kim Carnes. He would meet Madonna as she planned her first tour and would go on to light four of her ground-breaking tours including Blonde Ambition, which is still talked about today as being one of the greatest, most influential tours of all time. He says she was “incredible to work with, because she is the first performer, I saw that looked at a performance as an opportunity to use the theatrical influence in a rock/pop production instead of just a band and lead singer on stage playing songs.” Work with Michael Jackson, Bette Middler, Prince, Andrea Bocelli, the Eagers, Usher, and Barbara Streisand ensued, as did more work in Las Vegas.
Parnelli Audio Innovator
Berkow’s passion for sound measurement and acoustical design is deep and wide. His first professional mixing gig was for blues great Willie Dixon, and he would continue to handle sound for various groups through college and beyond. But then he became more interested in building studios and halls that were acoustically sound. After earning a degree in physics, and then a Masters’ in acoustics, and went to work for Artec, an acoustics design and theater planning firm. He developed much of his skills there working on projects like the Birmingham Symphony Hall in England.
Next he would jump to Dallas and work for the Joiner Rose Group before striking out on his own working on audio-related software. In 1995 he invented SMAART software, which today remains the standard and found on the laptop of nearly every touring FOH and systems engineer in the world. SMAART (Sound Measurement Acoustical Analysis Real-time Tool) tests software for real-time sound system measurements and is critical for performance venues and facilities of all kinds.
In addition to that, he’s designed some of the most revered concert halls in the country including the Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York, revered jazz rooms in St. Louis and San Francisco, as well as renovation work for the Hollywood Bowl and the Grand Ole Opry.
The 20th Annual Parnelli Awards
The three will receive lifetime awards at the 20th annual Parnelli Awards on June 3, 2022 during NAMM’s annual convention. For more information, please visit www.parnelliawards.com.