Ron Hays, a preeminent force among the small but growing band of imagists who meld computerized film, slides, synthesizers and music to produce multimedia art for operas, concerts and TV and motion pictures, is dead.
The artist and conceptualist was 45 when he died Tuesday of the complications of AIDS at a Marina del Rey hospital.
Hays was a pioneer in a still-experimental field which produces theatrical attractions based on Chinese mythology, special effects for Las Vegas clubs and visuals for symphony orchestras.
In 1979, he won an Emmy for best graphic design for the “Krofft Superstar Hour” with The Bay City Rollers, and he was nominated for one in 1982 for “Omni.”
In 1980, the International Television Assn. honored him for “Odyssey: A Video Music Album,” the industry’s first electronic and computer animated visual music laser disc.
His “Star Wars Concerts” with Zubin Mehta and the Los Angeles Philharmonic filled the Hollywood Bowl, and in 1984 he co-created and directed “Amphitheater of Light,” a musical “Prelude to the Olympics” at the Bowl, Michael Tilson Thomas conducting the Philharmonic. He also worked with David Wolper on the Olympics closing ceremonies at the Coliseum.
Born in Omaha, Hays studied at Northwestern University and did graduate research at MIT before becoming a TV producer in Philadelphia and Boston.
One of his first projects was the use of computerized animations for the Boston Symphony Orchestra broadcast performance of “Daphnis and Chloe.” He then put together animations of the Prelude and Liebestod selections from Wagner’s “Tristan and Isolde” for a Leonard Bernstein concert in 1975.
Hays moved to Los Angeles in 1976, where he established his own production company.
Survivors include his mother, Royalyn, a sister and his longtime friend and partner, Gerald Betzen.
Donations in his name are asked to the Daniel Freeman Hospital Foundations for its Marina Hospital AIDS Unit.