Dr. Don Dies

Ultra Sound co-founder Donald Pearson, 63, a sound engineer who was a guru to other soundmen, died unexpectedly during heart surgery January 16th.

Although he never attended college, Pearson’s love for sound and music led him to become the go-to guy for nearly all the major San Francisco rock bands in the 1970s.

He founded Ultra Sound in 1978 with partner Howard Danchik, and it became the touring sound company for the Grateful Dead in 1980, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The company also did sound for the Dave Matthews Band, the Pope, the Tibetan Monks, both Republican and Democratic conventions, the Three Tenors and more.

Pearson installed sound equipment for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. After being dangerously close to the bomb explosion there, he decided to stick closer to home, focusing on larger acoustic installations, such as San Francisco’s Davies Symphony Hall.

Longtime friend David Jacobs said that Pearson was a tech perfectionist. He was known for taking 20 minutes to make a cup of coffee, using a special grinder and espresso machine, freezing the stainless steel and making sure the water was the right temperature.

Ultra Sound was sold in 2000, but Pearson continued to install audio systems.