Wacken Open Air Production Manager Thomas Hess Passed Away

Thomas Hess
– Thomas Hess
With Iron Maiden’s Steve Harris

Thomas Hess, Wacken Open Air’s production manager for more than 20 years, passed away unexpectedly April 5. The Wacken crew penned a heartfelt obit.

Hess founded IH Security in 1991, setting new event security standards in Germany. He first set foot on the Wacken festival site in 1996, as tour manager of German rock band Böhse Onkelz (Bad Uncles). He was with the band until it split in 2005, a time during which he got the nickname “the fifth uncle.”

He became Wacken Open Air’s production manager after 1996. The Wacken team spoke of Hess as “our best friend” in an obit published on Wacken’s website.

“Thomas always acted in accordance with his motto ‘standing still is a step backwards’ At every turn, he tried to make the work of the crew easier, to improve the results and to optimize the processes. There were never real problems for him, only challenges that needed a solution. And he always acted with an eye for the big picture and the safety of everyone!

“At first glance, Thomas seemed intimidating to some. Behind the sometimes-craggy facade, however, he was a sensitive, kind-hearted person. A great friend, employer, husband and loving father. His sometimes coarse, sometimes fine humor always provided for boisterous laughter on productions and in meetings. His stories about earlier escapades with famous musicians were incomparable – and a moment later he talked to you about the best horse breeds for jumping tournaments.

“We all will not only miss his talent to organize events, but above all a good friend. Thomas leaves a huge gap that is impossible to fill.

“Our thoughts are with Heidrun and Melissa and all other relatives, friends and the staff of IH Security during these difficult hours.

“R.I.P. Thomas Hess

“Holger and Thomas + family & the W:O:A team”