Hello from the History Department.
On September 30, former Crystal Ballroom production manager Glen Rinzler of Showcall Event Services passed away here in Portland after a long illness. His mom was by his side.
He’d only been with the Crystal for a handful of years, yet he’d already made an indelible mark with legendary music venues in San Francisco and Seattle way before he came to Portland.
In a 2007 Seattle Weekly profile, Glen Rinzler, then the production manager at The Showbox, was said to be “as much a Showbox fixture as the giant crystal chandeliers. After getting his start at San Francisco’s legendary Warfield Theatre as a glorified head janitor reigning over its ancient plumbing system, he’s gone on to rule this premier Seattle stage with an iron fist for nearly seven years — a walking testament to the fact that paying attention as a kid isn’t always necessary to make it in the biz.”
For that 2007 profile, Glen was asked what were the favorite shows he had worked. He replied:
“So many to choose from, but some that stand out are: Pearl Jam in 2002. It was really cool to see them in a small room. They are really great people to work with — band, crew, the whole organization. Henry Rollins and Chuck Morris with the Rollins Band playing only Black Flag songs in a benefit for the West Memphis Three (if you don’t know about them, please go to wm3.org). And Paul Westerberg & His Only Friends. Honestly, I didn’t think the show was that great, but it was just really cool for me to see [Westerberg], as I never got to see the Replacements.”
Fast-forward to the Crystal Ballroom in 2015, where Glen was working as a member of the Showcall production team: He finally got to see the Replacements, as shown here on the left in a photo with Westerberg (middle) and Crystal talent buyer Jen Carrizo Smith. She remembers choosing Glen instead of her husband for the post-show photo opp, so that Glen could have the memory. Later, after his health had begun to seriously decline, Jen visited him regularly in the hospital and brought him to see Robert Plant perform at an Edgefield concert.
Glen was, by several accounts, “kind of grumpy” and even “curmudgeonly,” a guy who thought nothing of calling Crystal staff at home at midnight to give his feedback after a show. Yet he clearly had the respect and affection of the McMenamins staff with whom he put in long hours to make shows at the Crystal go off without a hitch. Glen was “ornery but loved,” “a sweet guy (when you weren’t working with him)” and “salt of the earth.” A theme that came up repeatedly was that he respected others’ opinions, thereby enabling them to do their best professional work.
As cantankerous as he may have occasionally been, Glen had a real soft spot for animals – at his recent memorial in Seattle, donations were accepted on behalf of one of his favorite organizations, Motley Zoo Animal Rescue.
Glen’s story is perhaps best memorialized by the many touching and funny posts his friends, former coworkers and even bands with whom he worked left on social media – here are just a few:
• “He gave me a lot of work. He listened to me when I had an opinion on how to do the job. He listened when I needed to gripe. I would listen when he griped too. And man was he world class.” – Personal contact via Facebook
- “You were always hard on me but I had nothing but respect for you. Glen you will be missed, I hope your resting easy. Also, don’t worry I’ll turn the haze down…” – Personal contact via Facebook
- “He was funny, grumpy and really loved music and people even though he had funny ways of showing it sometimes, we lost a solid one today…” – Personal contact via Facebook
- “Thanks for everything you’ve done for our camp over the years, Glen. Rest easy, friend. #GlenRinzler” – Pearl Jam, via Twitter