Tana Douglas, Rock N’ Roll’s First Female Roadie, Talks About the Evolution of the Music Industry, Being a Roadie, and Taking Control of Your Future, Episode 41

Meet Tana Douglas. Throughout the music industry, Tana has been acknowledged as Rock’N’Roll’s first female roadie. Her journey started in 1973 in Australia and within a year she was working for AC/DC. She then moved to lighting, working for a Major Australian Promoter and completed in quick succession several tours with International acts such as Santana, Suzi Quatro, Neil Diamond, David Essex, and Leo Sayer, and Status Quo all before she turned 18.

In this episode, Tana joins me for a discussion about her career, the evolution of the music industry, and some of the lessons she’s learned along the way. During our conversation, Tana emphasizes the notion of taking ownership of your own learning. We discussed taking control of your own destiny and doing things before you feel ready. As that is how you will grow rapidly – in your career or in your life. Tana has so much life experience and many stories to share. I hope you enjoy our conversation.

Here’s some more background information about Tana: After getting her father to sign her passport so she could travel Internationally she ventured to London to start 4 years with Status Quo running their lighting rig. She then brought that rig to TASCO a major Production company in London that until that time had only supplied sound for tours. A relationship developed there that would last several years and include working for such artists as Status Quo, The WHO, Ozzy Osbourne, Whitesnake, The Police, Elton John, Iggy Pop, and Johnny Halliday the French megastar.

Her relationship continued with TASCO enabling her to transfer to the USA after they opened a Los Angeles division. After becoming a resident of the USA, she broadened her working relationships to also include both Delicate Productions and Light & Sound Designs. The tours that followed were Elton John, INXS, Men at Work, before being once again called back to Europe to manage the largest lighting rig ever built for a 7-month residency for her old friend Johnny Halliday, at Le Zenith in Paris, for Light & Sound Design (LSD).

After successfully completing that task it was time for a change. Los Angeles had offered Tana new passions and she gradually left lighting, stage/production to focus her skills on logistics which meant if a tour had to be somewhere, she was the person to make sure it happened – for everyone including Lenny Kravitz, Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Luther Vandross, Ice-T, and Ice Cube to name a few.

Tana’s career spanned 30+ years and has seen her work alongside some of rock’s biggest names and personalities. As the music industry grew to become a worldwide cultural phenomenon, she was there, in the thick of it, a girl.

Tana and her unique position in the music industry have been included in several other people’s books – most recently a chapter in Stuart Coupe’s book, Roadies, which confirmed her as the first female roadie. But now it’s time for Tana to tell her story, in her own words. Her Memoir is being published through HarperCollins Australia and tells of the joys and struggles faced as a girl out on the road on her own in the wild and woolly days that created this industry of music. It is due to be released in Spring 2021.

Highlights:

  • What music means to Rock’N’Roll’s first female roadie. (5:04)
  • Janis Joplin as a hero and early inspiration. (6:20)
  • Tana’s entrance into the world of Rock’N’Roll as a roadie, and how she went on seven international tours back to back by the age of 17. (9:43)
  • What’s a roadie, anyway? (11:56)
  • On being the only woman roadie in the early 70s and 80s. (12:30)
  • Some of the things Tana did to fit in that was, “wild and woolly.” (14:53)
  • Hear about Tana’s first driving experience! (15:36)
  • Her fondest band memory from working with AC/DC, Malcolm Young, and Angus Young specifically. (19:51)
  • What it was like working with Iggy Pop and how Tana described him as caring and nice, a contrast in his character on stage. (22:15)
  • The on-stage characters that can’t turn it off, Keith Moon from The Who. (24:00)
  • The impact of the pandemic on the music industry and Tana’s experience watching the evolution of the industry. (33:33)
  • Tana describes the tight bonds between roadies and the artists on tour. (36:05)
  • Comparing corporate gigs vs. roadie gigs. (40:43)
  • The technology behind music production, plus the introduction of AR/VR and how it can be used when a musician can’t tour creating a full-immersion experience for concert-goers. (41:46)
  • Her idea of using AR/VR to create a one-of-a-kind New Year’s Eve concert. (48:01)
  • How to stage production companies have pivoted and helped hospitals in the wake of the pandemic – including sending crews to build hospital triage and more. (50:59)
  • The two ways people can work and learn to become a roadie. Don’t only learn what you can do, also learn what you can’t do. (53:45)

Links to quench your curiosity

  • Learn more about Tana
  • Tana’s book published by HarperCollins Australia entitled LOUD will be released in Spring 2021!
  • Join the Interview With Melissa Llarena Facebook Community!
  • Did you enjoy the conversation? Let’s build a powerful community of dream chasers on Facebook! Let’s huddle around a virtual campfire to open up about the wisdom, insights, and stories featured on An Interview With Melissa Llarena the podcast. Join me there for exclusive takes and behind-the-scenes content.

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Melissa Llarena

Melissa helps movers and shakers up to those in the corner office rediscover what makes them unique so that they can land their dream job in a forward-thinking company where their ideas are listened to, valued, and supported.

She brings insights from having worked in 16-business units (including Human Resources) in NY, Paris, and London. Additionally, in her former corporate career, she worked on billion-dollar brands for P&G and on IBM for Ogilvy & Mather. Later, as the founder and CEO of Career Outcomes Matter, Melissa created a 3-step “sellable strengths” process which has been the centerpiece of her clients' results.

Melissa applies this method consistently to support mid-level professionals up to the c-suite to get into Fortune Global 500 organizations and agencies. She studied Psychology at NYU and earned her MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.

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