Krishna Lights

 

Formed in 1968 and run by Jimmy Doody and Keith Canadine. It operated from small basement premises under a tobacconist/newsagents at 13 Goodge Street off Tottenham Court Road in London. Later a small production facility was added at Chiswick in West London. Krishna Lights was probably the first company in the UK to sell lightshow products – graphic and polarising slides, educational Rank Tutor 2 slide projectors with slow turning motors added to rotate effects discs such as the classic Liquid Wheel.

Amongst Krishna’s clients was The Beatles Apple Corp who regularly bought Liquid Wheels and watched them boil, by removing the heat filter from the projectors optical system, during ‘recreational’ periods at their offices.

Notable employees at Krishna Lights were Neil Rice, who together with Keith Canadine and others formed Optikinetics in late 1970, and Gregory Brown whose nickname was ‘Ashtar from Mars’. Brown went on to perform lightshows in Ireland with Thin Lizzy and Horslips. He is credited on the latter’s first album ‘Happy to Meet, Sorry to Part’. Ken Sutherland, a freelance photographer, originated a lot of the geometric and high contrast positive and negative black and white slide imagery that was projected through high speed colour wheels.

Major lightshow performances by Krishna Lights included The Camden Arts Festival at The Roundhouse, in Chalk Farm, London 1-3May1970. This classic venue, which is still used for performance, is a disused railway engine turning shed. For this festival it was screened 360 degrees to the full height of the building with castellated drops to the balcony level at 90 degree intervals to provide four projector stations. When Jeff Dexter, the Milky Bar DJ, came on stage to introduce the first band he said “ I’ve seen Joe’s Lights here but I’ve never seen anything like this before”. Bands who played this weekend included It’s a Beautiful Day, Taj Mahal and Family. The festival was organised by Harvey Goldsmith and his then partner Mike Alfondary.

Extravaganza ’70 was held at Olympia, an old exhibition hall in London, from 29May to 06June. This featured stalls selling youth products, fashion shows and bands. Two, now humorous, anecdotes from this event were firstly the sight of Jimmy Doody trying to wrestle a large (circa 1m diameter) colour wheel away from a London policeman after it had fallen off its motor spindle and descended from the lightshow platform on the balcony above. The second was of Steamhammers drummer downing drumsticks two beats into his drum solo and saying “switch that f***ing thing off” in response to the first flashes of a giant strobe that had been provided from Germany. Particularly upsetting for the lightshow who had spent ages making it work by Keith Canadine’s ingenuity in replacing its’ blown resistor with the bar from an electric fire.

Sunday 14th June 1970 found Krishna Lights at The Lyceum in The Strand London lighting Derek & The Dominoes first gig. The support band was ‘Noir’. The evening was extremely hot and many members of the audience were fainting. In the interval the management of the venue was persuaded to roll open a large panel in the roof which let all the heat out and a beautiful calm came over the audience before EC brought his new band on-stage.
Apparently The Lyceum Ballroom had originally been billed as ‘Dancing Under The Stars’ but this was the first time in many years that the roof had been re-opened.

The lightshow was projected from the balcony onto three adjoining screens behind the stage. The centre screen was flat with the two side screens angled slightly. After the roof had been opened space images were projected over the remaining ceiling area to add to the real stars which were visible through the opening. Whilst Derek & The Dominoes played three synchronised copies of the classic black and white animation film ‘Pas de Deux’, by Canadian Norman McLaren, were projected from 16mm film projectors over a collage of coloured images provided from other projection sources.

 

Copyright © Neil Rice 2001

 

 

Jimmy Doody in full Battle Dress

 

 

 

Krishna headed paper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Last modified

Friday April 15th 2005