Working with Duane Sherwood in 1984, Personal Effects started planning a multi-media show for the Community Playhouse on South Avenue where Swillburger is now. We had seen Emmy Lou Harris perform there and a few other shows and the small playhouse with the big deep stage was perfect for back-projecting on a scrim. From up in the balcony to way back behind the stage Duane worked both sides of the band with dramatic lights, psychedelic liquid light and projections, silhouettes thrown on the scrim from the front and the back where Jeanne Taylor was dancing behind the scrim. There is a photo of Jeanne on this 80’s Polaroids page. As creative and production manager, Duane had a brilliant idea for every song even dropping an overstuffed man from the ceiling for our song “Big Man.” Don Scorgie brought his bar to the lobby. Russ Lunn videoed the show and Duane took Polaroid stills of the video. We used them on the back cover of the album we recorded later that year titled “This Is It.”
Which brings me to the behind the scenes documentary of Michael Jackson’s rehearsals for what was to be his last tour. We watched “This Is It” last night with the sound jacked up. The band, an orchestra, sounded incredible. The production of this thing is mind-blowing and you get to see quite a bit of that along with the performances. Where other performers hire dancers to make them look good, Michael Jackson hired the best dancers and still danced better than all of them. You can’t take your eyes off him. Still transitioning at the end, he appeared to be in great shape. “This Is It” is exhilarating and sad.
Listen to Big Man by Personal Effects