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RUSH - SHOWTECH MERCHANDISING - PATRICK MCLOUGHLIN RUSH Backstage Club RUSH - THE INTERVIEWS

SHOWTECH MERCHANDISING - PATRICK MCLOUGHLIN

Showtech Merchandising - Patrick McLoughlin, RUSH, The Tea Party, Cheap Trick, The Trailer Park Boys, Coney Hatch, Big Wreck, Bubba's Bar and Grill, Neil Peart, Spinnerette, Joey Ramone, The Orbit Room, Collective Soul
Cool little area rug at the entrance to Showtech...
45 rpm how many remember these and the little adaptor to play on a 33 rpm turntable!

Photo: Paul Beaulieu


Go back in time to the late sixties, early seventies. There were a few smaller venues that were musts for bands to play in Ontario; The Muskoka’s had Kee to Bala on Lake Muskoka, Toronto had the Palais Royale and Port Dover had the Summer Garden pavilion. The Summer Garden pavilion was right on the beach; it was octagon in shape, had a fountain in the middle and held between 500-700 people.

The Summer Garden saw big band acts like Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, and Gene Krupa, right up to bands like Ronnie Hawkins, The Band, The Guess Who and RUSH.

Still wondering how this relates to Showtech and Merchandising? In late 1975 and early 1976 the hugely successful UK band, The Bay City Rollers reached number one on US and Canada charts. A North American tour was formed and the group’s management contacted Patrick’s father, Mike to print and sell the tour programs something he did for shows at the Summer Garden and local theatre groups. Inspired by being on the road and the success of the tour and sales of the programs, Patrick’s father contacted Ray Danniels and RUSH to offer his services which were accepted.

Where do you go from selling programs, well you start selling anything with the Bay City Rollers plaid tartan on it, scarves, shoes, socks, hats. Operating out their house, Patrick’s family became the worldwide distributers of mail order Bay City Rollers merchandise. As Sly and the Family Stone put it “It’s a family affair”; his father, mother, aunt and sister all pitched in.


Showtech Merchandising - Patrick McLoughlin, RUSH, The Tea Party, Cheap Trick, The Trailer Park Boys, Coney Hatch, Big Wreck, Bubba's Bar and Grill, Neil Peart, Spinnerette, Joey Ramone, The Orbit Room, Collective Soul
Patrick McLoughlin

Photo: Paul Beaulieu


Patrick became more involved with the company as he got older. He went on tours during summers when he was not in school and helped as much as he could when he was in school. Patrick figures he has worked with 30-40 acts including Sting, Ziggy Marley, Jeff Healey, George Michael, Def Leppard, KISS, AC/DC, the stones and was the road manager for comedian Gallagher.

Patrick obviously paid his dues helping on the mail order and live show side of merchandising but he also gained valuable knowledge working as the Canadian Representative for a New York based company that supplied Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Target and Zellers.

These experiences would become important in 1998 when Patrick’s father at the age of 62 unfortunately passed away and he took over the company.

RUSH is on the top end of the scale when it comes to merchandising. Just like the quality of RUSH’s music and shows the quality of the merchandising products needs to be at the same high level. RUSH does not get involved deeply in the design of the products but have the ultimate say whether it gets sold or not.

Hugh Syme works closely with the band on album designs and tour programs. Patrick does a lot of the design for the products.

Showtech has grown to 8 employees and recently moved to a new location in Oakville. The company breaks down into design, marketing, sales, accounting and fulfillment.

Orders are shipped the next day after they are received. Showtech tries to model themselves after Amazon, no easy task! One of the key differences in Showtech’s staffs knowledge of their products, especially when it comes to clothing. You can contact customer service providing your size in height, weight and so on and they can tell you which size to order.

Patrick and the Showtech staff regularly scan the fan blogs for any comments regarding merchandise that fans might want to see produced. The opinions of the fans are very important to Showtech!”


Showtech Merchandising - Patrick McLoughlin, RUSH, The Tea Party, Cheap Trick, The Trailer Park Boys, Coney Hatch, Big Wreck, Bubba's Bar and Grill, Neil Peart, Spinnerette, Joey Ramone, The Orbit Room, Collective Soul
On the wall is one of the four colour plates used to make the tour programs

Photo: Paul Beaulieu


I asked Patrick about the logistics of touring with a band like RUSH.

Showtech has a semi-tractor trailer that is on the road with the rest of the band’s convoy. Estimating the amount and type of products required at venue is helped if the band has played there before; otherwise it is usually driven by the size of the venue and attendance. Left over merchandise is loaded back on the truck for the next venue. Turnover is usually every four shows. The replenish stock is “Drop Shipped” from wherever it is being made to the next venue. Orders are mostly done at the beginning of the tour and take place as the tour progresses. Merchandise is ordered from the US and Canada for North American tours and from the UK and Europe for tours in those locations.

The style and colour of clothes varies with the weather conditions and time of year. Heavier items sell well when it is colder outside. Certain colours sell better depending on the time of year, more vibrant colours during the warmer months. Certain venues sell better than others, Birmingham and Manchester in the UK always provide large sales of merchandise. Festivals tend to be a harder sale, the size of the venue makes it very difficult to cover all and key areas. Often there are multiple bands playing and they are selling merchandise as well.

Patrick shares the tour bus with Skully, Scott Appleton, George, Lorne Wheaton, John Arrowsmith, Jack Secret and Howard Ungerleider. Once the show is over and everything has been taken down and loaded on the trucks, the crew hop on their tour bus and head to the next city on the tour. They check in to the hotel when they arrive. On days off they usually explore the city and in the case of John and Patrick they bring their inline skates to help keep them in shape. Days off provide the luxury of going to bed as early as you want, the problem is actually trying to get to sleep!

Was Patrick's tour bus the place to party on the Clockwork Angels Tour... apparently not, that honour fell to the String Section's tour bus!


Showtech Merchandising - Patrick McLoughlin, RUSH, The Tea Party, Cheap Trick, The Trailer Park Boys, Coney Hatch, Big Wreck, Bubba's Bar and Grill, Neil Peart, Spinnerette, Joey Ramone, The Orbit Room, Collective Soul
One of the friendly and helpful staff at Showtech!

Photo: Paul Beaulieu