I’ve just heard the sad news that Chris Thomas has passed away.
Many of you will, like me, perhaps have first learned about Naim from Chris’ reviews back in the early days in magazines such as Hifi Today, Popular Hifi and later Hifi Review, and then much more recently with Hifi+. Or perhaps you were a customer during his time as a Naim dealer with Chris Thomas Audio systems or Audio Venue.
Another gud’un gone. I bought a new LP12 from Chris when he was at Audio Venue in Crystal Palace. He was happy to do a home install as I lived near the Brands Hatch motor racing circuit and we spent a few hours chatting about music and cars. I recall he also traded vintage guitars, but I might be wrong on that one. RIP Chris.
Oh, that’s really sad. Malcolm Steward gone and now Chris. He was quite a few years younger than me and it just makes me think of how much music listening we need to pack in. I bought my first Naim system from Audio Venue at Crystal Palace (little Naim integrated and IBLs) as he was a huge Naim fan and I’ve never moved away from Naim since. Chris was also an avid film fan and we used to quiz each other with lines from films. I lost touch with him many years ago when Audio Venue closed, but I have fond memories of buying kit and listening to music in his shop. RIP Chris.
Sad news indeed.
Like others on this thread, I first met Chris when he was at Audio Venue, Crystal Palace. I bought various pieces of Naim and Linn kit from them in the late 80’s. Some of it is still in use today. I recall him as being most helpful and always willing to do a home visit to ensure things had been set up properly.
Did not know him, as I am from Germany, but truly sad - it happens frequently these days that people which were part of our well and warm recognized past, are gone.
E.g. Tatjana patitz (German model and actor) recently passed away …John Mc lane suffering from altzheimer… helps in appreciating our time in hopefully good health.
All the best to all of you and RIP to Chris Thomas
Chris was an outstanding human being on many levels, his charming character, his integrity and his love of all the good thing’s especially music. He was always helpful to Naim and myself but always drew a line
Between business and friendship in the best possible way. We didn’t always agree about hifi but we did on pretty much everything else we were totally in sync,
A true friend, sad loss, gone too soon! As a personal friend I am totally devastated but will treasure all that went before.
I also knew Chris during his Audio Venue days in Crystal Palace, and bought much Naim kit from him. He once showed a great interest in my Leica and I ended up trading a lens for a Lingo. I had only recently moved to the Palace and to discover such a gem on Church Road made my first few months living South of the river almost tolerable! I became a regular at the shop and spent many happy hours debating music and equipment. Does anyone remember the time he and his business partner, (I forget his name), bought about 20,000 records from a record producer? As already stated his reviews were always worth reading, very measured and very fair. He will be sorely missed. RIP Chris.
Wow, that is a very sad news, I first met Chris at Audio Venue, Crystal Palace in 86, I bought the NAC 32/NAP 250/Linn LP12 from him. and I remembered him as a young guy with a handsome look, good humor.
PS: 3 things that I remember about Chris:
On one of my visits to the Audio Venue at Crystal Palace, he complained that one guy borrowed some expensive Naim/Linn components and then he disappeared. He then added “You know what, this guy is a judge in Thailand”.
He mentioned that I was lucky because my LP12 plinth was very ‘square’. Obviously some of the early LP12’s had some sort of issues with the plinth?
One day, after reading his review of the Linn K9 on the HIFI Review, I wanted to swap my AT-F5 to the Linn K9, he was surprised and made sure that I really wanted to do it. So maybe, the AT-F5 was better in the context of my system, even he rated the K9 highly.
His partner was a guy called Ian Whorle from New Addington. I remember the records because I individually priced them all up. They were bought from a guy who amassed a massive collection of vinyl and very rare acetates by the Beatles and The Stones, he had worked in the music industry and was getting a divorce and wanted to offload all the collectables before his wife would get half. To date I have never seen a better collection of Beatles vinyl. I bought my first name kit from Audio Venue and still have some of it today. R.I.P Chris.
I first met Chris when I joined HiFi Review at offices in Crystal Palace. He and Ian W. ran Audio Venue - where we often listened to new equipment and chatted with manufacturers.
Some time later I was at his house when he mentioned he had to get off to the Dental Hospital. I asked if he had someone to go with him and offered myself for the task. We’d stepped over that vague line between acquaintance and friend.
He and his wife have been good friends with/to me now for 35+ years and I, in my turn, have been a rather inadequate one for the same time. Somehow, I was also warmly welcomed by his brother and the mixed assortment of friends (old and new) who would often pitch up. There was a pleasure in detaching myself from the occasional staleness and assumptions of my own lifelong friendships.
He took me to my first (and only) game of Association Football at The Emirates, introduced me to pie, liquor and mash and, most (?) enjoyably, initiated a series of visits to Leigh-on-Sea where we would amble like old farts along the seashore to Osborne Brothers for rollmops, seafood salad and a crab roll. I loved the distance from the feel of London and the quality of light - which reminded me of France. I saw my first hipster there.
As he continued to review, I was able to keep a light touch on developments in the audio world away from Naim. Some of this exotica I actively disliked but it was a pleasure to discover Connoisseur, Berning, Burmester and Avalon and Wilson speakers.
A pleasure, but one made difficult by his unaccountable liking for artists who could sing and actually play their instruments. I would endure hours of mellifluous perfection with an unconvincing mask of pleasure plastered to my face - all the while wishing for a burst of post punk, reggae, grunge - pretty well any of the sub genres which, to him, were anathema.
There’s more - but we live on best in the memories of those who knew us.
He was a decent bloke and his death leaves a hole in many lives.
What can I say?
Totally shocked and deeply saddened.
Been friends for almost 40 years.
Chris was a one off. Unbelievable character cut from the post war cloth, dipped in the hippy era, consummate guitarist, best Hifi ear in the business, ultimate reviewer, fantastic husband to Elaine who when she broke the news to me, I wept uncontrollably.
When you meet someone like Chris who is capable of taking you from fits of laughter where your lungs are on the verge of being coughed up to talking about almost any cultural, political, artistic, sporting, historic, emotional topic and then some, you realise one thing … and it’s this. “Devine gifts should never be questioned, just accepted” Chris sold me everything from LP12, active isobariks, active DBls, Lyra Connoisseur, Burmester 089 and much more. On a musical level he was an unstoppable juggernaut.
Tea and biscuits at his place with a bit of Metheny playing through his DCS, Berning Quadratures etc was pure joy. I shall never forget his soul, his emotional generosity, his authenticity and incomparable wit.
At his funeral I am certain that everyone will feel the way I do.
RIP my dear friend Chris.
Very sad news. His reviews and those of Steward, Rankin et al, really gave me my education into good hi fi. His review of the 52 was a particularly memorable one. Much love to all his family and friends.