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Douglas on tour with Status Quo, by Alain le Garsmeur, courtesy of Tana Douglas

Why roadies built the industry with the first female roadie, Tana Douglas

Globally acknowledged as the first female roadie, Tana Douglas left Australia in 1976 after having already worked directly for AC/DC for over a year and toured with some of the biggest names in music history. From Santana to Neil Diamond, she would go on to work with the likes of The Who, Status Quo, Ozzie Osbourne, Iggy Pop, Pearl Jam, RHCP, INXS, Tool and many more. Author of the successful memoir Loud, Tana is now writing her second book – which is still top secret!

Here contributor Eleonora Andrighetto talks with Tana to retrace the highlights of a unique career, discuss femininity in the industry, and go behind the scenes of the roadies’ world.

Roadies looked rough and gnarly, and others would think that we weren’t necessarily intelligent, but it was such a miscasting of people, because roadies back then are the ones that this industry has been built on.

Tana Douglas

To be a roadie you had to be comfortable not bathing for a few days, not sleeping for a few days, listening to guys tell dirty jokes all day… It was a man’s environment!

Tana douglas
  1. Why did so little women choose to be roadies, back in the day?

    “Because it’s incredibly hard work! Originally there was no accommodation for anything – no bathrooms, no hotels. There was zero consideration for male needs either, but women have particular needs that just weren’t even on the radar. What I found though, was that, as I got accepted, the behaviour toned down as a sign of respect, which was really nice. That’s how you know that you’re making an indent, when people are actually considering your presence.”

    Tana Douglas climbing up a lighting rig in a blurry yet rare image, courtesy of Tana Douglas

  2. When was the first time you met another girl in a crew?

    “It was 1982. I met Debbie through a friend of mine who worked in lighting. The production company I was working for had sent him out on the Neil Young tour and he talked to me about this friend of his, Debbie Vincent, who was a lighting person too. I was surprised to hear that, and I took her out with me on the Elton John tour to teach her and get to know her. I figured I could help her and protect her a little bit as she was quite young at the time and she was just starting out. It was fun to finally have someone out there that I could talk to and share a room with and Debbie and I remained friends even though she’s no longer with us.”

    Tana Douglas at work on stage photo by Alain le Garsmeur. Courtesy of Tana Douglas