Past Press

BAndit Lites founder, Michael t. strickland, awarded parnelli visionary award

July 10, 2019 | Category: Print

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – The Parnelli Awards, the live entertainment industry’s premier awards show, has announced that Bandit Lites founder and Chair, Michael T. Strickland, is the 2020 winner of the Parnelli Visionary Award. Bandit is in its 51st year under Stricklands’s leadership and is in a phenomenal growth phase. This recognition is a testament to the lifetime achievements of Strickland and the phenomenal staff at Bandit Lites.

Strickland began Bandit at age twelve in Kingsport, Tennessee in 1968 with acts such as the Beach Boys, Paul Revere and the Raiders, the Grassroots and Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.

“You must remember that in 1968 no one had stage lighting,” Strickland stated, “they all played with the ceiling lights on in a high school gym or National Guard Armory. When we showed up with ‘borrowed’ lekos and Fresnel’s, this was all new to the acts. At the same time, others in New York and LA were also experimenting and doing very psychedelic stuff, but they were adults, and I was a 12-year-old kid.”

This kid was already 6’2” tall and looked a bit older. Because of his appearance, Strickland notes he was able to bluff his way into situations that a 12-year-old should not have been in. Hiring someone with a driver’s license was job one, and after that, the rest is history. The original Bandits took off and began illuminating rock shows in a 300- mile radius of Kingsport.  On any given weekend, Bandit had borrowed all the lighting equipment from the high school, two junior highs and a theater or two – hence the name Bandit.

Strickland graduated high school and then took the show on the road to the University of Tennessee where the merry band of pioneers continued lighting shows throughout college. After a degree in business, Strickland went onto UT Law School while simultaneously working as the Production Manager for the biggest act in the world: Kenny Rogers. Bandit grew rapidly and acts such as Blackfoot, The Outlaws, Molly Hatchet, Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn, Charlie Rich, The James Gang, Alabama and countless others used Bandit.

From that humble beginning, Bandit grew to have offices in Knoxville, Nashville, Charlotte, San Francisco, London, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Garth Brooks, Queen, Van Halen, Aerosmith, Jason Aldean, Barry Manilow, Carrie Underwood, Alice Cooper, Def Leppard, REM, Widespread Panic, Alabama, The Judds, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Neil Young, Selena Gomez, Hilary Duff, Shinedown, Halestorm, Jimmy Buffett, Lord of The Dance, WWE and countless others have called upon Bandit Lites for their lighting needs.

Along the way, Strickland and the team at Bandit developed a firm that is focused on people first, an act they call Humanomics.

“We make all business decisions based on the welfare of people; our team, our clients and the people we come in contact with,” Strickland simply states. “We strive to make everything a win-win and take the best care possible of the humans. Money comes second or third in every decision. It works best that way; if you take care of the people, everything else good follows!”

The success and this accolade are not lost on Strickland, who quotes Coach Nick Saban, “We earned our way here; we are entitled to nothing going forward.” Strickland is humbled and flattered by the award but points out, “This is an award for the fantastic Bandit family. No one person ever succeeds alone at this level. The great Bandit team has accomplished this, and I am lucky to be the captain.” Fifty years is a long time to succeed at anything, and Bandit Lites is at the top of the industry in year 51.

The award will be presented January 17th, 2020 in Anaheim, California at the Anaheim Hilton at the 19th Annual Parnelli Awards.

Bandit Lites is a global leader in the entertainment lighting marketplace.  From touring productions to fixed installations, Bandit Lites has a full staff of highly trained professionals to deal with all types of lighting needs. Bandit’s global presence will insure seamless transitions no matter where your next show takes you.  More information available at



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