spats The scene that readily comes to Jack calmes’s mind, when he remembers the Texas Pop Festival of 1969, was his effort to coax three naked hippies down from a tree.

“They were loaded on acid and thought they could fly,” says Calmes, a co-promoter of the event. Neither the freaks nor the festival ever took flight; Calmes and his partners lost more than $100,000. But Calmes did keep the sound system. From that, a company called Showco was formed.

By the mid-Seventies, Showco, thriving under a partnership of Calmes and Dallas residents rusty Brutsche, Jack maxson, and Jim Clark jr., had emerged as the leading concert light-sound-staging company in the world, netting profits well into the millions. But the sound of peace and joy has been replaced by harsher chords, with accusations worthy of a spy novel.

Calmes, who says he was booted out of the company in 1980, is suing his former partners in a Dallas court for $104 million. The lawsuit alleges that Brutsche, Max-son, and Clark were developing a computer-controlled lighting process in a hush-hush fashion and refused to let Calmes in on the technology. “It was all locked off in a secret room,” Calmes claims.

The product, Vari-Lite, is now an industry standard. “It turned out to be the most important thing to come from Showco,” adds Calmes. “It was all done behind my back and they conspired to defraud me out of the profits.”

Calmes now operates Syncro-lite, a company that produces and sells a product that Vari-Lite people allege has infringed on their patent.

prater monning III, a lawyer for the defendants, issues a general denial of Calmes’s allegations. “They’re still trying to locate the whereabouts of the so-called secret room,” Monning says.


Keep me up to date on the latest happenings and all that D Magazine has to offer.

Related Content