It’s with great sadness that I share the news that John Chapman died on 26 April. He was 90.
John was my first proper dealer in Bournemouth, he ran the Russ Andrews dealership which later became John Chapman HiFi. He based his dealership from his home in Bournemouth with a bespoke listening room extended on to his garage.
I first met John over 40 years ago after enquiring about potentially purchasing a Thorens TD160 turntable which transpired he didn’t sell. He sold me Rega 3 instead and as well as being a customer we became lifelong friends.
John stocked the usual culprits. Linn, Grace, Supex, Rega, Nytech/Ion, Naim, ARC, Royd, Roksan. A real flat earth dealer of the time who was an excellent engineer having previously worked in aerospace at Hurn (Bournemouth) airport.
Later John became interested in developing his own loudspeaker and he worked on his own design called the JC-1. This was a small speaker the size of Linn Kans but arguably better. Initially using the ARC Atom cabinet but later a ported cabinet the bass unit and crossover was his own design with a Scanspeak tweeter, the same as used in the SBL. The relationship he had with Naim was close and he supplied Naim with surplus tweeters when the Scanspeak factory burnt down when stock was scarce.
The speaker was superb, often being nicknamed ‘Mini Isobariks’. I recall one day meeting Julian Vereker as I was leaving Johns who was visiting to come and have a listen to the latest version of the speakers. John and Julian had been friends since the early days when Julian was building amplifiers on his kitchen table. The visit was around the time of the Linn/Naim parting and Julian was so impressed with the speakers he left with one under each arm and used them at a Hifi show the following week. John sold many pairs to Naim employees at the time and I still have a pair which I now won’t have the heart to part with even though they are boxed up and not currently used.
John was good friends with Richard Hay and forged a partnership with Ion Systems. The speakers worked well with Naim and Ion kit and John was invited to become the production manager at Ion so he closed his dealership and moved to a beautiful converted chapel in Llanidloes which was close to the Ion factory in Newtown Powys. As part of the deal John’s JC-1 speakers were made at Ion so they became the Ion JC-1 loudspeaker.
Some time after Ion folded John returned to Bournemouth and after a short time selling Morgan Audio Systems equipment to ex customers (me included) he decided to retire.
We kept in contact and would occasionally meet up for some music and a chat. He had a great eye for system tuning and my system would often end up sounding better after his visits!
Tonight I’ll listen to some of his favorite music and be thankful that he nurtured my love for music with this wonderful hobby.