After the Jimi Hendrix Experience and Cream broke up, the heir to the throne of most powerful US rock band was the group Mountain. That band’s bass player/co-writer and sometimes singer, Felix Pappalardi, had worked up close with Cream as their record producer, so aided by double bass drummer Corky Laing, organist Steve Knight, and the hulking guitarist/singer/songwriter Leslie West, Mountain posed a daunting challenge to sound engineers, both in the recording studio and live in concert.By this time, West and Pappalardi had discovered that London music shop owner Jim Marshall had stopped selling drums and instead built the quintessential high-wattage rock amplifiers coveted by the likes of Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page. An entire industry grew up to handle the concert decibel wars, led by Dallas-based Showco. Around 1972 and fresh out of Texas A&M engineering school, new Showco hire Jim Bornhorst sent his new concert PA mixer down to Mountain’s soundcheck when they were about to play in concert at Southern Methodist University. Bornhorst was confident that Mountain would love his new design and would become Showco’s newest client. Reportedly halfway through the first song, Mountain blew out the PA, and Leslie West kicked the stage monitors into the McFarlin Auditorium orchestra pit! Back to the drawing board.
But clearly as you can hear from this Mountain live performance in late December 1973, Bornhorst and Showco wasted no time in designing and building a bullet-proof PA that could harness all that these hard rock bands could muster. Showco and Jim Bornhorst revolutionized the live music event business more than fifty years ago with designs and techniques which are still used around the world to this day. –Redbeard