Garth Brooks Joins Record Crowd Honoring Parnelli Winners

Country Star Makes Surprise Visit to 19th Annual Ceremony

January 18, 2020

The 19th Annual Parnelli Awards, the “Grammys” of the live event Industry, was well on its way to be a record-breaking, talent-heavy, memorable event — and then Garth Brooks showed up, surprising the more than 750 people who packed the Anaheim Hilton’s Pacific Ballroom during the NAMM show on Jan. 17.

The top-selling country artist came to honor Michael T. Strickland, who was receiving a Parnelli Visionary award for his pioneering work in the lighting business. Strickland, founder of Bandit Lites, believed in Brooks when, as Strickland says, “he was a kid with a marketing degree and a couple of minor hits” — and huge ambitions. Brooks came to Bandit and said he wanted a lighting rig as big as KISS — raising the production bar for all country music.

Brooks, who joined Brent Smith, lead vocalist in Shinedown, in presenting the honor to Strickland, was not the only artist to come and give praise. Stone Gossard, guitarist and co-founder of Pearl Jam, came to present the Audio Innovator Award to monitor engineer Karrie Keyes, who in addition to working with that band for 29 years, co-founded, an organization that encourages and supports women interested in the industry.

“Historically, the sound engineer position has been filled with guys, [but] all that is changing,” Gossard said. “It took a Karrie Keyes taking huge chances, displaying courage, resolve, wit, resiliency to pave that road. Can we just admit now that women all across the world will not accept being shut out of anything that they decide is cool — and thank God, because they will make it better.”

And while Bandit client Alice Cooper sent in a video jokingly skewering a portrait of Mike Strickland with a dozen thrown knives, longtime Paul McCartney production manager Mark “Springo” Spring received the Parnelli Lifetime Achievement honor at the gala after some equally hilarious roasting by presenters Charlie Hernandez and Jake Berry, the latter presenting a Late Night Top 10-style video on while Springo deserves the award for lifetime achievement — with longtime client Paul McCartney driving the point home with his own video submission.

The ceremony was the first to present the NextGen award, which went to Henry Bordeaux, whose multiple hats include serving as tour manager for Tyler, The Creator’s Igor tour. It was hosted by bassist and vocalist John Waite, and Carmine Appice (Rod Stewart, Ozzy Osbourne) joined Stone Gossard and Brent Smith in doling out the honors, with singer/songwriter Tim Brickley performing live.

These artists joined other presenters including backstage VIPs (and Parnelli winners) LeRoy Bennett, Baz Halpin, Michael Tait, Tamlyn Wright and Charlie Hernandez along with NextGen nominee Amanda Davis (Janelle Monáe, Tegan and Sara and Ella Mai). PLSN and FOH editors Nook Schoenfeld and George Petersen also stepped up to present awards.

Timeless Communications founder and Parnelli executive producer and co-founder (with the late Patrick Stansfield) Terry Lowe, whose flagship publication, PLSN, celebrates its 20th anniversary issue in February 2020, once again took the stage to welcome attendees and thank the event sponsors for shining the spotlight on all the backstage companies and crew members who live up to the excellence espoused by the award’s namesake, Rick “Parnelli” O’Brien for the 19th consecutive year.

Preliminary preparations are already being made for the 20th annual Parnelli Awards, which are set to take place Friday, Jan. 22, 2021, once again at the Anaheim Hilton during The 2021 NAMM Show. For more information about this upcoming event, and for links to videos that will be soon posted for the 19th annual ceremony, go to

Parnelli Award Winners

Congratulations to the 19th Annual Parnelli Awards recipients

View All Winners

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About NAMM

The National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) is the not-for-profit association with a mission to strengthen the $17 billion music products industry. NAMM is comprised of approximately 10,300 members located in 104 countries and regions. NAMM events and members fund The NAMM Foundation's efforts to promote the pleasures and benefits of music, and advance active participation in music making across the lifespan. For more information about NAMM, please visit, call 800.767.NAMM (6266) or follow the organization on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.