By Julius Grafton
In a tragic tale, ex-pat Australian sound engineer Gerry Georgettis took his own life on board a United Airlines flight from Washington to Los Angeles in early February. The flight was diverted to Denver, after crew discovered Gerry in the lavatory, where he had somehow killed himself. People who knew the 56 year old theatre manager from North Miami Beach were agog that he took his life. The story has a massive prelude...
Gerry was from Melbourne, one of the pioneers of the road from the 1970’s. He worked for a stellar assortment of great acts, doing sound for Cold Chisel before migrating to the USA. He worked on Loolapalooza, and did shows with major international acts including Red Hot Chili Peppers.
He was working in a theatre, with nothing untoward in his life until Saturday February 4th.
The Miami Herald picks up the story:
In a case that drew widespread attention in South Florida, police say that on Saturday Georgettis was upset with the deal he got on a Ford Escape at the Metro Ford dealership at 900 NW Seventh Ave.
Georgettis plowed the new car into the showroom glass, then set the business on fire, Miami-Dade police. He worked for the city of North Miami Beach and handed in his resignation on Monday.
”I’m shocked. I still can’t believe it,” North Miami Beach Mayor Raymond Marin told The Miami Herald Thursday morning. “I know him as nothing more than an nice guy. I can’t say anything bad about him. I don’t know what happened.”
Friends from the road. including Mark Keegan, Spy Matthews and Harry Parsons were all shocked that Gerry had reacted that way and then taken his own life.
Gerry was a quiet and very strong person. This writer recalls him acting as sole crew member for band La De Das. He would drive their horrible, uncomfortable slow Toyota Dyna truck from Melbourne to Sydney and return for a couple of gigs every other week. One time when the truck broke down, I took a truck to Tarcutta to rescue Gerry and the equipment. He routinely worked alone, lugging everything on his shoulders. It took a long time to set up all the stage gear, the PA and some lights, all alone.
He wasn’t massively built, but was a solid 5 foot 10 inches, and had an inner quality and calmness that few can match. Which is why his mind snap at the Ford Dealership was just slightly out of character. He caused more than a million dollars in damage, and made a statement.
By chance, the only time I saw him really light up and look excited was when I caused a show to be cancelled at Paddington Town Hall, by blowing up the support band on stage with a misjudged pyro charge. His band arrived just as the shell shocked audience departed, amidst broken glass and ambulances.
Gerry was telling them what happened, and trying to convey the size of the blast, his arms windmilling as he went ‘B-A-N-G’, his band members jaws sagging open in disbelief. Most other band crews would have been very hostile towards a lighting guy whose lunacy had literally blown their show away.
Gerry was sanguine. “Could happen to anyone” he grunted, as we loaded out down those dim slippery stairs. He loaded and stacked his truck full, locked the doors, and drove off into the night.
Ted Gardiner co-owned the Lolapalooza festival and knew Gerry well. “He was the sane one, on the road with 140 people. He was a champion guy”, Ted says. “I spoke to him just a few weeks ago. He was extremely happy – his new girlfriend had bought him a Queensland Blue Heeler. Now she is taking his body home to Australia. I can’t believe it”.
Former Cold Chisel frontman Barnes has told News Limited newspapers he had been friends with Gerry since he was a teenager.
“Gerry Georgettis was one of my great friends,” Barnes was quoted as saying.
“He was the coolest guy I ever knew.
“He exposed me to great music and great musicians, and I would not be the singer or the person I am now without his influence.”