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Stephen T. Gudis, Promoter, Stage Manager, and Event Production Specialist, Dies at 69

Stephen Gudis

Well-known Nashville-based music industry figure Stephen Gudis died January 6. He was 68. His career, spanning several decades, took in event production, tour/stage management, and promotion.

Originally a musician, Gudis began booking shows while still a student at the University of Tennessee/Knoxville. After graduation, he worked in promotion, first for a radio station and later for tours passing through Knoxville and regionally. He began working out of Nashville for Pace Concerts in 1989, acting as production manager at Starwood Theatre while continuing to promote touring shows. Other gigs included working as television stage manager for Farm Aid, managing several editions of Country Music Awards, and New Eve shows at Sea World in Orlando. In 1995, he opened the firm The Production Department.

Gudis was a board member of the Parnelli Awards and stage manager for the awards presentation. According to PLSN, which sponsors the Parnellis, he was working on the 2020 awards ceremony, to be held January 17 at the NAMM Show, at the time of his death.

Bandit Lites chair and founder Michael T. Strickland, another prominent member of the local live entertainment community, issued the following statement:

"If you knew him, you called him Gudis. People call me Strickland. We were so different. We were so the same. If you look at Steve and I, we seem to be miles apart, but really, we weren't.

"He was from East Tennessee. I am from East Tennessee. Born and raised 40 miles apart. We both started in entertainment in the late '60s. We both love music. We are both UT grads. From here, it gets funny. I am 6' 7". Steve was 5' 4". Standing together, we looked very Mutt and Jeff. Watching us talk was always a hoot. Steve was a Jewish guy with earlier roots elsewhere, and I am a born and bred Southerner.

"I belonged to IATSE Local 197; Steve hired Local 197. Steve was a promoter's rep; I was a road guy. Everyone, and I mean everyone, in the industry over 55 knew Steve. He was the promoter's rep for National Shows, and then Entam. If you played in the Southeast, you dealt with Steve. He was the first guy you saw in the morning, and the last guy at load out."

"Steve and I both worked for Charlie Daniels and The Oak Ridge Boys. He in management and me as the lighting vendor. Different sides, same goal, same team.

"Steve worked at Starwood in management; I worked for Starwood as a vendor. Then there were all the events we did with one another: Volunteer Jams, Farm Aids, CMA events, and countless tours. Yes, if you were in the industry from 1973 to 1992, you knew Steve well and worked with him often.

"The differences in us were many. The similarities were even greater. He was Stephen T and I am Michael T. Funny that. And I never knew what his 'T' stood for. Yes, we were very different. But we were also very much the same. We will miss you, Steve. Sorry you left so soon, my friend.

"Take care, God bless, and we are all better for knowing you."

Complete information about survivors wasn't immediately available, but they include Beth Anne Musiker, his wife since 2005.

(10 January 2020)

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