Benny Collins, Journey Production Manager, Dies
Pollstar says that he died of pneumonia at Marin General Hospital in Greenbrae, Calif. Neal Schon wrote on Facebook, “Sad news today ... We've lost another dear Brother ... God Bless Benny Collins/aka WolfmanBlack RIP”
A native of Oakland, Collins started his career in the live music industry in the early '70s as a roadie for Graham Central Station before going on to work with Bill Graham. In 1979, he was hired to be Journey’s drum tech and made his way up the ranks to their stage manager and production manager.
Along the way, he developed a sterling reputation. One of his colleagues, Charlie Hernandez, called him “one of the most honest, most ethical people I know,” adding that Collins “rose to the top quickly because he always told the truth, and he really f---ing cared. He went out of his way to be fair to everybody and earned everyone’s trust and loyalty.”
Those qualities, as well as his ability to navigate the complex logistics of the business, led to jobs such as Wham’s 1985 tour of China, the first Western act to perform there, David Bowie’s highly theatrical “Glass Spider” tour and Michael Jackson’s global jaunts through the ‘90s.
Pat Morrow, who, as Journey’s tour manager, originally hired Collins, said, “He could take the biggest stuff anyone could throw at him. No pretense, no bulls---, just rockin’, sockin’ professionalism. Nothing got to him, because he didn’t sweat the small stuff, and he wisely knew it was all small stuff.”
Collins, who received a Parnelli Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014, is survived by his wife of 40 years, Audrey; daughters Saundra and Sharon; and his grandchildren.