Tales From the Road: Scottie Graves Edition Part 1


Here at NCompass we work with a lot of talented people who help us create remarkable moments for our clients. One of our most colorful characters is Lighting Director, Scottie Graves. While less inclined to spend as much time on the road today, he was once the go-to guy for every major tour. We asked Graves if he would share some of the more PG-13 versions of those tales. Lucky for us he agreed.


“I was on the road for nine months with Bowie for the Glass Spider Tour in 1987. We arrived in Rotterdam for rehearsals and management had set up the crew to share double rooms to save money. Bowie found out and immediately changed the arrangement so everyone got single rooms, a giant fruit basket, a bottle of champagne, a dozen red roses and a personal thank you note written by Bowie. One of the coolest things he did was when we played West Berlin, close to the wall. He had us set up huge video screens and speakers behind the stage facing East Berlin so they could experience the concert too. All the East Berlin soldiers with their machine guns showed up and sang along from the other side of the wall.”


“Michael Jackson had this see-through acrylic floor on the stage. A few of us each night would get under the stage and imitate his dancers while he was directly above us. We’d get him to crack up laughing. That was in 1984 and he was super nice, but by ’92 you couldn’t get close to him at all. At one point he rented out Disneyland Paris for the crew to have a private day at the park. We did a show in Romania for a HBO special and then loaded out and got on the buses to Turkey. We had about 40 trucks and 15 buses in a caravan and entire towns come out and waved at us as we rode by. We had to stop at the border at a truck stop because you weren’t allowed to take the currency across the border with you. After we ate we left all of our cash money on the table for the waitress. She started to cry uncontrollably. One of the staff told us that it was because the money we left was the equivalent of 20 years wages.”
“One of the weirdest coincidences occurred in Atlanta when I was setting up for a CNN podcast. We had been up for 36 hours straight doing the lighting to capture the first Martin Luther King Jr. celebration. It was pouring down rain. We drove into downtown to build a camera platform and realized too late that we didn’t bring a level. So it’s 3am, in essentially monsoon like rain, and we hear this voice behind us. It was an old “gentleman” who said…I got one and I’ll sell it to you. He was using a 5 ft. level as a cane and sold it to us for $20.”
Stayed tuned and perhaps we can coax more tales from Scottie in the not so distant future. But in the meantime,  follow us on Facebook and share with us your most interesting stories from the road!
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