It’s been a long road from production manager for the Eagles to heading the company that’s behind the scenes of some of the biggest events of the Carnival season and beyond.
Don Drucker, of Madisonville, still remembers buying his first sound system in the ’70s at Werlein’s on Canal Street in New Orleans.
He started working out of his garage and soon formed Pyramid Audio Productions, a company that provides audio, video, lighting, backline systems and live event management throughout the country.
“I handle Zulu, Endymion Extravaganza, Endymion ball, Bacchus Carnival ball and Orpheus ball," he said.
Drucker’s relationship with Endymion began with its coronation in 1979, when he had just started Pyramid.
“When you start with someone, you want it to go as perfect as possible. You want to continue with it and grow with it,” he said.
The krewe’s after-party now draws up to 20,000 people into the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. This year, the Endymion Extravaganza featuring Rod Stewart and Jason Derulo follows the parade on on Feb. 10.
Drucker’s career in music and production began when he received a scholarship to attend Redemptorist High School in the Irish Channel. He was in the orchestra band and would “play trumpet one month, trombone the next month and French horn the next.” He went on to Loyola for music but ended up gravitating to electronics.
He kept playing in horn sections of local popular bands such as Raw Power and Paper Steamboat and at clubs like the Nutcracker Lounge on Veterans Highway, he said, as well as getting stints with the Top Cats and the Sheiks.
Some of the popular hangouts on the north shore he played at were Foosers Den in Slidell, an old theater in Mandeville, as well as fraternity parties and clubs in Hammond.
All the while, he was becoming known for helping with the equipment, making repairs and making the sound systems better wherever he played. Before long, he was running his own equipment business.
Drucker already had started Pyramid when he got the opportunity to work as production manager with Glenn Frey, of the Eagles.
But it was a shakeup in personnel with the Eagles in 2001 that put him on the road with the band.
“They were bringing in new people and a new tour manager. Don (Henley) wanted one guy, and Glenn said, ‘I want one of my guys,’ and that was me.”
Drucker traveled with the band for the next five years. As personnel kept changing, “I got tired of training new production managers and I took the job myself,” he said.
He went around the world several times and produced events for the Eagles in more than 20 countries, he said. The experience “seasoned me to grow, to do bigger shows and better shows,” including his work as stage manager on the Eagles’ "Farewell 1 Tour — Live from Melbourne” album.
Drucker moved to Mandeville 25 years ago, and then moved to Madisonville when he married Sharon Lo Drucker. They have one daughter.
By 2007, she was turning 6, and Drucker decided to get off the road.
He said the choice was simple: “I resigned from the Eagles; I wanted to be home.”
That time on the road was a chance to see if Pyramid could stand on its own. It has continued to grow and now includes clients such as Bayou Country Superfest and charity events from Audubon Nature Institute’s Zoo to Do, Oh What A Night! At the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, Scales and Ales at the Aquarium of the Americas, the Children’s Hospital Sugarplum Ball and Kickin’ Parkinson's at the Stone Creek in Covington.
He's installed sound systems in the Joy Theater, Orpheum Theater, Smoothie King Center and Family Worship Center in Baton Rouge. Currently, Pyramid is installing a new system in the New Orleans Morial Convention Center.
Pyramaid also is one of seven or eight sound companies utilized by the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. It's responsible for the Blues Tent, Jazz Tent and video displays at the Gentilly, Acura, Congo Square, Jazz and Heritage stages and the Cultural Exchange Pavilion, Drucker said.
From large stadium events to small nonprofit galas, his clients run “the gamut of the industry,” he said, adding, "That’s why I like it all these years. It presents new challenges and new groups of people to work with.”
Would he trade it all for a life on the road?
“The business has been good to me. The music industry takes and gives," he said. "It takes from family and gives back to the community. It’s about finding a balance between business and family.”