Walter Eugene Clair, one of the Clair Brothers Audio entrepreneurs, died on December 3, at the age of 73, after being in ill health. At Tuesday's Madison Square Garden concert, Elton dedicated Your Song to him, noting that his was the first sound company he used--and still does, over four decades later.
Walter, who was known as ''Gene,'' was born in the Lititz, PA, area and lived there all his life.
He graduated from Warwick High School in 1958 and was awarded as one of the top athletes of his class. He went on to get a two year degree in Engineering from the Penn State York campus. While working in the Foreign Language lab and general electrician at F&M College, Gene and his brother, Roy, set up the sound for a visiting musical group – the Four Seasons. The ensemble was so impressed with the sound they asked the brothers to tour with them, and so Clair Bros. began. Gene continued to be a sound engineer/mixer for others, including Elton the Moody Blues, Michael Jackson and Peter Wolf, and travelled all over the world.
Gene sold his end of the business to his son Troy in 1995, and split his time between Lititz and his mountain home in Sinnemahoning.
Upon hearing of Clair's death, the audio industry took to social media to offer memories and condolences the family. Michael Tait, founder of Tait Towers, the Lititz-based provider of staging and scenic construction for touring productions, noted on Facebook, "“On behalf of all of us at Tait Towers during this sad time, our thoughts are with the entire Clair family. Gene was a gifted audio engineer, but more importantly, a man of integrity, with an enormous heart and a generous soul. We first met at a Yes gig in 1972. This encounter led to Clair Brothers becoming the exclusive sound company for Yes, and eventually, for Lititz to become the home of the fledgling Tait Towers. I shall be forever grateful for having known Gene.”
Dave Natale, the FOH engineer behind countless Clair tours with the Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, Tina Turner and others, offered a remembrance saying, “If it wouldn’t be for this man and his brother Roy, I would be driving a tow motor somewhere.”