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The Story

In 1972 high school came to an end and the partners were faced with a dilemma, college or rock ‘n’ roll.
The choice made was not what the three sets of parents wanted to hear, but choosing rock ‘n’ roll would launch these three teenagers into an adventure that never ended.

First things first, become a real company, start a corporation, create a trademark and go national! All these ideas were easier said than done, especially the “go national” piece.

By now the partners had attended a few concerts by national recording artists and a few of those British bands that were taking the American music scene by storm. They soon realized there was something called theatrical stage lighting and they knew they needed some of that.

After labouredly putting together a business plan, visiting 20 banks to solicit the company’s first loan, three father’s co-signatures later with $1,000.00 in loan proceeds in hand the first professional lighting fixtures were purchased.

Breaking into the big time was quite a bit more challenging than the three partners anticipated, it started slowly with local and regional promoters giving them a call here and there when they needed more lighting than the venue owned, and in those days the venues owned little and the artist didn’t request much more. A large lighting system consisted of 4 pneumatic Genie cylinders with 10 Par 64 fixtures mounted on the mast, 40 1K Pars total and there was only a handful of companies in North America that could provide it.

In 1974 as the company’s business at Colleges throughout the 5 state area was growing they found a new area of production that was greatly needed as most college field houses and gyms didn’t own any staging, crowd barricades, curtains or follow spots. These production elements were a natural next step to being able to provide what the customers were asking for.
As the demand increased, the distances traveled greater and the need to be able to compete with production companies on the East & West coast, the next jump was into the world of trucks.
The cost of renting trucks was increasing and it seemed at the time that money was being thrown down the drain. First purchases were a couple of used straight trucks, then came used trailers, finally the last leased tractors were turned in and a pair of used tractors were purchased.

In 1976, the company had the opportunity to purchase a locally based Twin Cities sound company called Freedom Electronics and not only acquire it’s first concert sound system, but also its first two employees’ that knew how to setup and operate the equipment. 

In 1978 with all four divisions, Lighting, Sound, Staging & Trucking doing well, the first new Semi tractors and Air Ride Electronics vans were purchased.

As the outdoor event area grew in North America the company built some of the country's early large scale outdoor stage & roof structures and shipped them all over the continent. To erect one of these large structures could take a crew of 20-30 men and 2-3 days, so in an innovative resolve to lessening the time to stage a major concert in a baseball or football stadium, the company designed & fabricated a 60’x48’ roof that once assembled on the deck of a stage was lifted and held in place by two 30 Ton Hydraulic Truck Cranes, giving the ability to set up the day of the show and/or be out of the stadium before sunup following the show. The trim height could easily be varied, the weight capacity greatly increased to 30 tons and if bad weather was on the horizon, the roof could be easily lowered to the stage or ground.

1980 brought about more growth in each division and a leap into something new - portable power - as the size of the conventional lighting rigs of the day grew upwards to 200-300 1K fixtures there was never enough power in the College Field Houses, Fairground Grandstands and the large as well as the smaller Stadiums and in some cases many of the smaller 5-7,000 capacity Hockey Arenas throughout the Continent.

After renting and pulling generators from Detroit & Caterpillar to concert sites for half the preceding decade the company built its first of several portable power plant inside a semi trailer.  The first one a Cat 150KW set, with a 500 gallon fuel tank, an elaborate power panel inside the trailer as well as plenty of room to transport feeder cable.

And now…
Today, Naked Zoo Enterprises, Inc. provides Entertainment Lighting & Concert Sound, Staging, Portable Power and Transportation, not only of our production equipment, but that of competitors, trade shows, Broadway and more. The Company, throughout its 40+ year history, has provided services to various Musicians, Entertainers, Fairs, Festivals, Sporting events, Ice Skating tours and Corporate clients around the WORLD. 

Naked Zoo has provided touring services to the following clients: Elton John, Mariah Carey, Seals & Croft, Celine Dion, The Commodores, Mister Mister, Ann Margaret, Tanya Tucker, The Clash, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Charlie Daniels, The Mashall Tucker Band, Leo Sayer, The Village People, STYX, Head East, Black Oak Arkansas, Engelbert Humperdinck, Paul Anka, Loggins & Messina and Kenny Loggins, Slipknot, The Beach Boys, Jackson 5 & the Jacksons, Barry Manilow, Bob Hope, Grade 8, Barbara Mandrel, Shena Easton, Prince, The Tyme, Sly & The Family Stone, Andréa & Sandra Crouch, Pat Travers Band, Herb Albert, Melissa Manchester, Climax Blues Band, Ten Years After, Mac Davis, Kool & The Gang and many more!

In the world of Ice Skating & Skiing - Stars on Ice, Tom Collins Olympic & World Figure Skating Champions, Dorothy Hamill TV specials and The World Alpine Ski Championships in Vail & Beaver Creek.

Naked Zoo Enterprises, Inc. was established in 1970 during the psychedelic era, by three high school students who knew nothing about theatrical lighting or theatre but enjoyed experimenting with anything lighting that would make their friends rock band look more exciting at the high school proms, street dances & college fraternity parties they performed at. One of the original partners later in life commented in an interview “At such a young age what could be more fun than being part of the band, getting in the dance free and meeting the girls. We were the cool guys in high school and we couldn’t play an instrument”. One show led to the next and before they knew it they were providing light shows for local and regional bands as well as colleges all over the Midwest with their arsenal of overhead projectors, slide shows, homemade light boxes and strobe lights calling the fledgling company “Lighting by Naked Zoo”, after all you had to have a cool name in the 70’s.
1920 Benson Avenue | Saint Paul, MN 55116 | 651.699.1155