Josh Rosen, stage manager

 14 June 2016

Stage manager Josh has worked at the O2 Academy Brixton for 21 years, but his history of backstage work goes back even further. He told us about his career, from touring with Motörhead to applying farming skills to festival work, and gave 3 tips for becoming a stage manager.

I got into my job by being on the road and meeting people.
I got into my job by being on the road and meeting people.

If you want a backstage career, applications are open for the new Professional Diploma in Technical and Production at Level 4 

Hometown? 

I was born in London and have lived here for most of my life, apart from three years in America when I was the guitar tech for Motörhead.

What job do you do?

I’m the stage manager for the O2 Academy, Brixton. I have been here for 21 years.

How did you become a stage manager?

After many years of doing different things with different bands, form Motörhead and The Damned, to Siouxsie and the Banshees and many more! When I was with Siouxsie and the Banshees I was a roadie and guitar tech.

You get a cold shiver down your spine if you’ve done a good job.

I got into my job by being on the road and meeting people. When I was offered work, I took care to do a good job. Being out, meeting people and impressing them is the way in, so if you’re quiet and shy this may not be the job for you.

What qualifications do you have?

I have a City and Guilds qualification in Animal Husbandry! I wanted to be a farmer, and learned all about tractor driving and muck spreading. There have been lots of transferable skills like fork lift truck and heavy plant driving, which you need for events like festivals.

I’ve also done lots of training on the job in things like health and safety, fire training and first aid. You have to have these really as there’s the care of duty. Things have to be done properly or it could cost someone’s life.

What do you do for your job?

You must be able to work long hours, do physically demanding work and be able to think on your feet. 

As part of my job I oversee all aspects of the load in/out and running of a show. I check all rigging and make sure all health and safety is done correctly.

A typical working day starts at 7am and ends at 2am the following morning! There’s lots to do before the doors open for a show, from unloading trucks, to rigging, to doing sounds checks – and putting it all away again.

What is the best thing about your job?

Seeing people smile. After spending 18 hours a day at work, it’s nice to see the audience have a good time. You get a cold shiver down your spine if you’ve done a good job.

And the worst thing?

When bands have a bad day and blame the crew. Sometimes crew make bad decisions and are at fault, such as if a guitar hasn’t been tuned properly. Other times it’s down to the performers. Either way, you just take it on the chin and move on.

How do I become a stage manager?

1.You need to be up for hard work

You must be able to work long hours, do physically demanding work and be able to think on your feet. You also need to be happy talking to people a lot.

2.Know what’s in the case before you open it

By that I mean if you have five trucks worth of equipment, you need to understand what’s in them before you tip them on to an empty stage. That means having a general knowledge of lights, sound and production and being organised.

3.Get a job with a local crew company

This is a good way in. See how their business runs and hopefully they will be willing to train you.


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