Nashville Production Legend Stephen Gudis Dies

Stephen Gudis
Rick Diamond/Getty Images
– Stephen Gudis
Stephen Gudis (L) of The Production Department, LLC. presents Lennon Stella (center) and Maisy Stella (R) of ABC show “Nashville” with a jersey during the 2016 NHL All-Star Fan Fair – Day 3 on January 30, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee.
Nashville live legend Stephen Gudis died Jan. 6, after a decades-long career that spanned event production, tour/stage management and promotion.
Some of Gudis’ most recent jobs included television stage manager for Farm Aid, production stage manager for Event Production LLC, and founder of The Production Department, LLC. He was also a board member of the Parnelli Awards and longtime stage manager for the awards show. 

He started working in Nashville for Pace Concerts in 1989 and gradually became a fixture in Music City, working in a variety of gigs through the years including the Country Music Award shows and with Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Charlie Daniels. 

Ray Waddell, President of OVG Media & Conferences (which oversees Pollstar) said in response to the news: “Steve Gudis was a hell of a smart production professional, a can-do, ‘make it happen’ sort of guy, and, like all great road warriors, always found the solutions to every problem that could arise. Beyond that, Steve was loyal, reliable, kind, dependable, competent and a great friend. The live community will miss him, as will all his friends, neighbors and many associates.”

Former Pollstar CEO Gary Smith said: “When Pollstar Live! went to Nashville, Steve stirred up local support. He was directly involved with the production of Pollstar Live!, not only in the years we were in Nashville, but the following years in San Francisco and LA. He worked with Steve Macfadyen and Shari Rice on the development of Production Live!

“He was very supportive and he was a good guy. All of my contact and experience with Steve contributed to our success.”
Steve Macfadyen of Tried and True Event Production told Pollstar, “Steve Gudis was a master at his craft and of people.  He was one of Nashville’s true production/show ambassadors.  He knew absolutely everyone in Tennessee and could make anything happen at a moment’s notice.  He was a real southern gentleman and my friend.  A huge loss to his friends and family around the world.  I will miss him.”

The news was first reported by Projection Lights & Staging News, which interviewed Gudis in depth in 2016. Of his career, Gudis said in that interview: “If there’s one thing I’m known for it’s using my skills, experience and relationships to keep an eye on the bottom line and cut the best deals, minimizing costs and reducing stress for my clients. That’s kept me gainfully employed for over 40 years.”

 A wave of remembrances poured in through social media as the news of his death broke. 

Prominent photographer Rick Diamond of Rick Diamond Photography wrote on Facebook: “I can’t tell you how long ago I met Steve seems I have always know him, I would guess over 40 plus years ago. He and I have crossed paths while he was a Tour Mananger, Production Manager, Event Mananger and more EVERYTIME I saw he always extended a helping hand. He never said NO always introduced me to everyone that would help me get the access I would need. I recently saw him and spent time with him and Jerry Golden at IEBA in Nashville where he lived and was loved by so many. This one hurts. He really was more than a guy who helped me in my career he was a true friend as I get older you really know who those friend are. Steve R.I.P. I’ll always remember our friendship.”

Bandit Lites founder Michael T. Strickland issued a statement after Gudis’ passing: “If you knew him, you called him Gudis. People call me Strickland. We were so different. We were so the same. If you look at Steve and I, we seem to be miles apart, but really, we weren’t.
“The differences in us were many. The similarities were even greater. He was Stephen T and I am Michael T. Funny that. And I never knew what his T stood for. Yes, we were very different. But we were also very much the same. We will miss you Steve. Sorry you left so soon my
friend. Take care, God bless, and we are all better for knowing you.”

Charlie Brusco of Red Light Management said: “Steve Gudis was a very special guy. I knew him since 1975 …. 45 years and always had that smile in this picture … met him when he was working for Phillip Lashinsky in West Virginia … will miss him dearly. Rest In Peace my friend.”