Memories of Simon by Guy Allenby

Guy Allenby went to high school with Simon at Hawker College in Canberra.

An intellectual says a simple thing in a hard way. An artist says a hard thing in a simple way – Charles Bukowski

Simon Holmes talked like an intellectual and wrote songs like an artist. Simon was the hub of the wheel; a bloke with a subtle but compelling gravitational pull for anyone with the good fortune to wander close enough into his orbit.

I did so in the last couple of years of school and the first years of our twenties and he was the first person I’d ever met who’d scatter his sentences with big words, poetic phrases and literary quotes and yet somehow still managed to not sound pompous. For Simon being polysyllabic (just the kind of word he loved to rip from his top pocket) came entirely naturally and he was just as likely to explain how a song’s “contrapuntal motion” motored it along as slap down a quote from Charles Bukowski to illustrate a point.

I didn’t always catch his exact meaning early on, if I’m honest, on account of the thinness of my own reading list and word power, but his erudition never seemed affected because he was simply exercising the vocab he’d built and honed over the Holmes family dinner table (I remember his parents and siblings all seemed extraordinarily bookish and smart).

He was generous and thoughtful and he wouldn’t say an unkind word about anyone he knew. He was also funny and caring and saw the world through determinedly humanist eyes.

I met Simon in Year 11 at Hawker College Canberra in 1979 and, as with many people, love of music was the lingua franca. I had a mop of curly dark hair in those days and was wearing a white shirt, black jeans and a thin black tie that day (bear with me, the description is important). ‘My Sharona’ had recently been released and, I’m not sure anyone else was interested or even noticed my sartorial reference to one of The Knack’s guitarists, but Simon did and I remember him striking up a conversation about what a brilliant blast of pop exuberance My Sharona was.

Little did I know this was day one of a friendship with one of Canberra’s (if not Australia’s) walking compendiums of contemporary music knowledge and trivia – not to mention that he was destined to one day be the writer of more than handful of his own classic songs ten years later. He was soon educating me on the depth and the cultural import of a deep, wide and ever-burgeoning late 1970s musical landscape in which The Knack were self-evidently just a short and non-descript dead end street. Not that he was evangelical about his musical tastes or anything it was just that if you knew Simon and you were interested in music you soon found out that he was into up-and-coming (and the chronically neglected genius ones) before you’d read about them in an import copy of the NME.

In the year after school Simon shared a house with two other ex Hawker College students – his parents had moved to Sydney. Here there’d always be brand new import copies of albums Simon had recently bought at Impact Records and a stack of NMEs. Simon was working and spent most of his money on records — the rest of us were at university. He’d buy, we’d tape them.

I met my future wife Lolita at Simon’s place.

Lolita was another music lover drawn into Simon’s orbit by his vast and infectious
enthusiasm for the new sounds of the times and the small and large impromptu parties that would develop at what stood – at the time – as the only place around with no parents on site.

Simon’s door was always open and he was always welcoming, even if we did at times turn up and rouse him from his slumber after only a few hours sleep from his nighttime shift.

It was was around this time Simon picked up a guitar and the covers band Regime was formed with Simon Taylor on lead guitar, Tony Skillicorn on bass and Sam Klobasa on drums. I remember driving back from the rock festival Tanelorn on a farm just inland from NSW’s Mid North Coast in 1981 (Midnight Oil, Rodriguez, Split Enz, Mi Sex, Billy Thorpe) in Michael Skillicorn’s station wagon with Simon and Lefty and spending most of the time on the way back coming up with names for Simon’s new band.

We wrote them on the back and sides of a cassette box that we’d brought to play music for the car trip, I remember, but can’t remember the options. In the end they settled on Regime. They played their last gig (and by which time Simon had moved to Sydney) at Lol’s 21st birthday party in a suburban backyard in Canberra (pictured) …

Regime reformed for one night only as Tread Rubber, Lol's 21st, South Bruce, Canberra, 1984
Good times. Little did we know that within a few short years of this he’d be recording albums and travelling the world with his music.

Goodbye my friend.

In Memory of Simon Holmes by Nicola Schultz

Nicola Schultz worked at Half-A-Cow and played bass in the 90s band Swirl.

I was devastated, like so many others to hear to Simon’s passing, and find myself reflecting on the way he touched my life. I remember buying the newly released LoveBuzz by The Hummingbirds and playing it on a small record player in my bedroom, coming to the door, where my mother stood to relay my excitement at this beautiful music as song after song unfolded all its beauty, those lush boy girl harmonies, and the perfect pop sensibility. Pure joy.
Around this time, I made long treks into the city to Phantom Records to buy the latest Cocteau Twins record, and found it amazing to see Simon standing there in his leather jacket behind the counter. He was always amicable, no ego. Little did I know that a few years later I would work with Simon at Half A Cow Records, after Swirl played an open mic night at The Lansdowne Hotel and met Nic Dalton who serendipitously was mixing that night. Nic became busy touring overseas with The Lemonheads and with the label, so asked Simon to take over the store which I had been working at for awhile.

I remember that Simon brought part of his great CD collection into the store and a new
music appreciation experience ensued. The band I remember most now is Led Zeppelin. I wouldfollow his lead and play the entire catalogue in one day.
Simon was eloquent, humble and always interesting. Milo, his son was born, and as a toddler would visit the store. I have an image of Milo sitting on Simon’s lap becoming savvy on an Apple Mac computer set up on the counter, amazed at his immediate interest and innate ability.
Time moved on, and the store closed. I would occasionally walk home from work at Sydney University to Annandale, running into Simon who was also working there, and have a conversation that always left me feeling elevated. God bless you, Simon.

In Memory of Simon (By George Trippis)

George played drums in Simon’s band Fragile. 

I was introduced to Fragile by Andy Morrison. Andy said Fragile had some recording to finish in a few days, but their usual drummer (Simon Gibson), was sick and couldn’t make it. The night before the recording however, Simon G was better and so I wasn’t needed. I hadn’t met Holmesy at that point, and yet he phoned me to apologise, and to also thank me for agreeing to help out. That’s how noble he was.

Sometime later Fragile needed a new drummer, and Andy asked me back. I walked into Damien Gerard’s and my first impression of Simon was how friendly, relaxed, and calm he was. He treated me like a professional and an equal from day one. I remember before each show he’d get us together and say “last transmission”. We did go out there every time and play like it was our last time – lead by Simon.

I hadn’t seen Simon for a couple of years when my wife asked him to play at my surprise 40th, which he did, and Fragile thrashed out some songs again that night. I was honoured. He announced that night before we started playing, that I was a loved brother. Although that was many years ago, I will never forget that.

As well as his musical insight and genius, I will remember Simon as a man of wisdom, love, and humility.

Memories of Simon (by Chris Peak)

I first met Simon Holmes outside the Promises nightclub in Sylvania, sometime late 1989 or early 1990. He’d just played a headline show with the Hummingbirds, as they crested the wave of early rooArt success with their first album. Despite being drenched with sweat, he happily discussed the Jesus and Mary Chain with me for half an hour and presented an invitation to come talk records at his day job at Phantom Records on Pitt Street in the city.

I’d just started University at Sydney Uni and we developed a quick friendship based on Spacemen 3. I’d brought home Spacemen 3’s “Playing With Fire” from a holiday in the UK and Simon was the only person I knew who was also interested in them. A few years later I met Matthew Tow and I swear we were probably the only three people in Sydney at that time listening to Spacemen 3. They were a band that NEVER got any radio play in Australia and it was many years before the internet opened up their fanbase here. Simon also got me hooked on David Crosby’s role in the Byrds and CSNY, though weirdly it took many more years before I discovered solo Crosby. To this day, if you ask me what my favourite Hummingbirds song is, it’d probably be “Let Your Freak Flag Fly”.

Around that time Simon started working at the Half A Cow bookshop/record shop on Glebe Point Rd, five minutes walk from my university classes. I ended up spending more time in the shop talking music than going to lectures. Soon Simon started giving informal guitar lessons in the shop to my then girlfriend Maria and she and I started our first band together not long after. One night I was standing at the side of stage after watching the Hummingbirds play a great show and Simon came bursting out of the backstage room and grabbed me and said “you know how to play “Sidewalking” by the Jesus and Mary Chain don’t you? Robyn doesn’t want to do an encore”. And lo and behold thanks to Simon I played bass for one song for the first time ever on the Annandale stage.

One afternoon after work, Simon asked me if I knew about “Sherwood Forrest” nearby. I said no, I’d never heard of it. At that time, Simon and I both lived near to each other in Annandale, so we walked home through Forrest Lodge, where Simon introduced me to this strange little piece of wilderness running along a creek in the middle of the metropolis. It was beautiful, made more so by a sneaky joint I think, and was one of my favourite inner city secrets until it was bulldozed with the closing down of the old Children’s Hospital a few years ago. I strangely remember having a weird conversation while we sat there about whether the Hummingbirds “Alimony” ripped off REM’s “Gardening at Night” or not, I think we’d been talking about the “talent borrows, genius steals” NME cover.

We’d talked a little about doing some kind of music together, but this didn’t happen until early 1996, when Simon and I were asked to help Matthew Tow with his Colorsound project. Recorded over a hot summer week at Smash in Camperdown with Jason Blackwell engineering, this is to this day my favourite recording session that I’ve ever been involved in. Simon was so good to be around, his ideas were precise and clear. He guided with clarity, never talked down to me and was always actively participating. I remember at one point he asked if he could play a guitar which I’d brought along which belonged to Maria, an old 70’s red Fender Mustang. Problem was, this guitar was tuned to some weird esoteric tuning and Simon just wanted to play it in normal tuning. I tried to talk him out of it, as it was a pain in the arse to retune it and we had probably half a dozen other guitars, but he really wanted to use it. The part that he played using that guitar, a fuzz and an octave pedal still sometimes comes to me in dreams, 21 years later, it was just so perfect.

Also during this session we all took turns answering a succession of late night phone calls into the studio from a guy who wanted to book the studio right then and there. This guy with an American accent got increasingly upset and irate when told “sorry, but the studio is already booked, we’re using it” and I think we each hung up on him, until finally he bawled “but don’t know who I am? I’m in Rancid” who it turns out were playing at the Big Day Out that year. Right-o, “click” as we hung up on him yet again. I also remember around this time, maybe a few months later Simon getting despondently unhappy at John Howard’s election, probably the first (and maybe last) time we talked serious politics.

Simon and I started a band that year called “Confusion”, basically a one chord Spacemen 3 covers band, but of course it had a Simon twist that we both had to play in stereo using two amps, kinda trying to make a one chord quadraphonic drone. We played some fun shows to absolutely no one at all, including a 4 week residency at the Annandale Hotel on like a Monday night or something, as well as a much bigger more populated show in the foyer of the Metro Theatre in-between bands playing in the main room (Underground Lovers headlining from memory).

We did a bunch of recording over a two or three year period, including at Damien Gerard which mostly we engineered ourselves, though none of it was ever released. One track that is haunting me right now was a beautiful middle eastern tinged Zeppelin-esque riff, played on 12 string acoustic guitar with a rhythm track composed of cardboard box drums. This person I was dating at the time did this amazing deranged fuzz vocal wailed over the top, it was such a great mutant Queens of the Stone Age type riff. This was also before Simon’s second Fragile record, which headed more in a heavy direction, even though he always loved riff laden music like Monster Magnet’s “Tab” EP.

[One thing I forgot: we did a film score in the mid nineties too, but I have no idea what the final name of the film was! My limited googling hasn’t found it yet.]

[Another thing Arianna just reminded me of was a time we were hanging out just after he’d finished recording the first Fragile album “Airbrushed Perfection”. He was writing these amazing handwritten letters to send off to New York (in the very pre internet/email days) requesting permission to use the cover artwork photos which he’d found in a magazine or book. He was so proud of doing all these things himself for that album, it truly was a representation of “him”.]

There was another amazing recording we did around then that was an exactly 60 minute track, a concept which I happily stole later for my own band. We tried really hard to find the DAT of this a decade later, but could never locate it, I don’t think there’s even a cassette left of it, but it is probably my favourite piece of music that Ive ever recorded, a beautiful fuzzy, quiet and loud piece of drone. Its out there in the atmosphere somewhere I guess. Tim Byron talks in his piece about Simon’s minimalism and thats certainly the thing that has been the most influential on me over the years that I worked with him. Simon was also just about the only mentor who encouraged me in the music industry, listened to me, gave his wisdom and treated me with such beautiful respect.

I didn’t see much of Simon in the late nineties when I moved to Melbourne, but was always happy to see him at Enthusiasms, his new record store back on Pitt Street. When Maisie was born, my son was two or three years old and we would often meet up in the White Valley Creek park in Annandale and more often than not talk parenting. Usually we’d do the “hey, we should do some recording, or hey, we should play a show”, but of course both having young kids, life kinda got in the way. I did get to take my son to see the Hummingbirds play at 2SER live to air [a picture of which is the image attached to this post – Tim] and while I’m sure Elliott probably won’t remember it as he grows up and sees lots of bands, it meant a lot to me.

I saw Simon at the Underground Lovers show a month or so ago and we again said the same thing about doing something together again. A week or two later, I’d been thinking a lot about a concept for what we could do and I woke one night at 4am with this weird riff in my head, I hit record on the Memo thing on my phone and recorded 30 seconds of guitar. Thats never happened to me before, but as I listen to it now, it would have made the perfect thing for us to play to death.

Love you Simon.

Memories of Simon (By Stuart Tangye)

Professor Stuart Tanye is Head of Immunology & Immunodeficiency at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research. He is a life-long Hummingbirds fan whose friendship with Simon began when their daughters became friends at the local pool. 

Like many people around my age (45-50), I knew of Simon Holmes as an awesome guitarist, singer, intelligent and articulate songwriter and extraordinarily talented and inventive musician for that great Sydney band the Hummingbirds. First and foremost, I was a big fan of the band – I saw them play many times in and around Sydney from ~1989 through to one of their final gigs which was on the night of the 1993 election at the Annandale Hotel. I vividly recall driving up to Long Jetty one Sunday afternoon in the summer of 1991 to see them play. I would collect set lists, new releases, other merchandise. Studying at UTS, I would walk down to Waterfront, Phantom and RedEye record stores in Sydney to eagerly look for new or old vinyl (and then CDs). Often seeing people (and band members) in these shops that I would see at the gigs. For someone who didn’t really fit in to school or university cliques, i had finally found a space where I was comfortable and felt part of.

Fast forward 20+ years and i find myself at a local pool with my 3 kids having a splash around. My 5 year old daughter starts playing with a similarly aged, adorable little girl in the pool. I strike up a conversation with her Dad – we introduce ourselves. I have this feeling I’ve seen this guy before. When I ask his daughter if she has any siblings, she replies ever so sweetly “well I have a big brother Milo, but he’s much older than me”. My hunch is confirmed – recalling the Hummingbirds shows from the 90’s featuring Nic Dalton on bass while Robyn St Clare was pregnant, it was well known that Simon has a son named Milo. This was a surreal moment – here I was, chatting to the man who brought such entertainment, pleasure and appreciation of music when I was in my late teens/early 20’s. Swimming with our kids. A million miles from the rock and roll of the Sydney pub scene of the 80’s/90’s. We chatted about anything and everything – work, music, books, art, travel, science (me being a scientist). And our kids.

Over the next 12 months we would catch up in the local parks and at this same pool so our daughters could play together. Simon was such a lovely, loving, caring and gentle man – asking my children questions, indulging them with their comments, curiosities and observations and playing endless games of “Marco Polo” in the pool. We swapped stories of our daughters adventures at pre-school, the excitement of birthdays and birthday parties and the thrill and trepidation of starting kindergarten this year. He always expressed gratitude for these catch ups. His messages would include sentiments such as “Thanks for your time and attention – the pleasure is, as always, mine”. So thoughtful, gracious and considerate.

At times we would talk about music and of course the Hummingbirds and I would confess what a big fan I was. I got to see them one more time too when they played in Newtown last year. When Simon asked if I played music, I had to make another confession: I am great at music trivia, but have no musical talent whatsoever, despite desperately having wanted to learn guitar as a kid. He encouraged me to give it a go – “it’s never too late”. And of course he was right – for the past 8 months I’ve been learning guitar. I’m pretty crap, but I’m giving it a go and loving it. Simon inspired me to try something I never thought I would have the time or capability of doing at this age and stage of my life.

I didn’t know Simon for long. But my life, as well as that of my families, is enriched for having had him in our lives. To re-quote Simon “Thanks for your time and attention”. It was a real pleasure and very special time knowing you. We will miss him dearly. Rest in peace my friend.

Memories of Simon (By Clinton Walker)

Clinton Walker is a music writer and was a long-time music ‘lifer’ with Simon Holmes. 

I was genuinely shocked and saddened when I learnt of Simon Holmes’ death the other day. Sometimes you wonder if you’ve a right to speak at times like this, and I have on this occasion, and then other times I think it’s a crime not to. I mean, I didn’t know Simon deeply personally. I did know him for a long time. And in that long time, when we crossed paths on so many occasions, he struck me always as a sweet, generous guy, and like me, a pure music tragic, or ‘lifer’ to use the term I like best that I noticed someone else just used on this page too. I have no idea whatever darker currents may have run through his deep personal life, that wasn’t the level on which we related. We related through music – which brings up the philosophy of music all of us lifers have, which is naturally not unrelated to any philosophy of life we may have generally – and that was the level on which we related. Through a lifetime of gigs, and in record shops – and that is my lifetime, after all, and was largely his too and doubtless also that of many of you reading this as well. Probably starting behind the counter at Phantom, and at the Palace Hotel in the late 80s, when the Hummingbirds were exploding onto the scene and the silly little band I had called the Killer Sheep played with them a few times. Gotta say, everybody loved the ‘Birds, but not me! Well, I thought they were good, they had some great songs and they played them really well in that mode they were in, it’s just that that mode or genre was never one of my great favourites. But like other bands in styles I can’t generally stomach, they were so good as to rise above my appalling prejudices – and this is precisely the sort of discussion I used to love having with Simon, which he always enjoyed too – and so yeah, it’s easy for me to say, the Hummingbirds were a great band.

Into the 90s I saw a bit of Simon through the Half-a-Cow shop, when I was briefly running Kill City Books just a bit further along Glebe Point Rd, and then after that at Enthusiasms. Enthusiasms was a great shop, exactly my kind of shop, where you could find almost anything, unrestricted by genre or prejudices, and I bought a lot of records there. I’ll never forget – well, I sort of do! – this bit of a dictum Simon had on records, just as some of the other writers here remember their favourite Holmesian aphorisms. He said something like, it wasn’t, There’s no such thing as a bad record, because that’s not true, it was more like, Every record’s got a listener somewhere. And that is true. And wise and funny, which Simon was. Phlegmatic, sort of, but with more warmth. As I said I didn’t know Simon much more deeply than that, I didn’t know his family short of meeting Milo a couple of times and what a nice boy he seemed to be, but I do know – some of the lights in Simon’s life – he loved his family and his kids, and I know that he loved music, all sorts of music, and that he loved the extended family he had in music, especially the fellow lifers with whom he made music, with what had to have a been a bottomless pit of patience. Music that will now seem that little bit more precious (precious in the good way, of course, in being valuable, rather than twee); music through which Simon’s special light will shine on.

Forgiveness (by Adam Gibson)

Adam Gibson was in the band The Aerial Maps with Simon, and Simon produced albums for Adam’s bands Modern Giant and Adam Gibson & The Ark Ark Birds. 

Can’t sleep … but this will probably be all I write on the subject so … my brother Simon Gibson and I are inexpressibly sad about the passing of Simon Holmes (or “Holmesy”, as we always called him). My brother worked with him at Enthusiasms store way back when and became firm, close friends with him. We’d been fans of his music since the late 80s and indeed it was the Hummingbirds that were the whole reason why we actually fell in love with guitar pop music in the first place. And overall, they were the band that were the first to break through to some sort of mainstream success and make such music seem “possible”.

To later become friends with him was an honour and to later, at my brother’s encouragement, have him come in and produce the Modern Giant album, “Satellite Nights”, was massive. It was through that connection that I asked him to be involved in the recording of the first Aerial Maps album. That evolved into him being a key component of the Maps.

After my brother moved overseas, as I wrote on the Aerial Maps’ page…

Holmesy became my co-conspirator, guiding light, emotional touchpoint and musical genius. We shared some wonderful times together – touring, rehearsing and recording – all-up making a total of five albums across Modern Giant, The Aerial Maps and The Ark-Ark Birds. He was a great friend, a true mentor, someone whom we all deeply admired, respected and loved. The Hummingbirds were his iconic and integral band, but for the past 10 or so years, myself, Sean Kennedy and the other Aerial Maps/Ark Arks were absolutely honoured, privileged and proud that we could work with him on the stuff we did.

My deepest thoughts go to his family and other loved ones. He will be greatly missed and yet remembered for being an amazing person and incredible musician. It’s all there in the music.

I don’t feel I can write much more about things, but just give my best wishes to Milo, Justine, Maisie and extended musical family such as Alannah and Mark and all his loved ones. This is the last song we played live with him, my brother and I, in May … It is called ‘Forgiveness’ – Adam

A memory of Simon Holmes from Simon Gibson

Simon Gibson collaborated with Simon Holmes in projects such as The Aerial Maps, Adam Gibson & The Ark Ark Birds, and Fragile, and worked with Simon at his shop Enthusiasms.

Hello friends. I have been unsure if I would write anything but I thought I had to at least try to share my thoughts as a way to celebrate the life of a wonderful man.

In times of loss, it is a common human need to talk about the loved one lost. It is often very hard to talk about that person and their life without it becoming all about you. Of course, as the remembrance is from your perspective it will always contain a lot of your story as it connects to theirs but I apologise in advance if I stray into self-indulgence. I find this especially hard when trying to write about my friendship with Simon Holmes as he was a humble man who grew up in public but remained a reserved and essentially very private man.

Many kind words have already been written but I figure we can never have too many of them at a time like this.

I loved Holmesy, he was an inspiration, a mentor, a bandmate, a workmate, a fellow “lifer” in music and a great friend. He was a gentle-man like my father, men who are so naturally gifted that they had no need to shout it, the talent spoke for itself.

Simon was without doubt the best all-round musician/producer I ever met and I am blessed and honoured that I had the chance to play with him so much. I first played with him in 1996 when I joined his post-Hummingbirds band, Fragile, and continued through a series of projects playing shows, recording albums and touring right up until a month ago when we played what turned out to be his final show. My heart aches thinking about that show now.

In the midst of all this I worked with Simon for a few years in his record shop “Enthusiasms”. The best job I ever had. A shop bursting with interesting items filed in a unique way, usually a bit of a mess, a sea of coffee cups and cigarette butts, incense smoke wafting from the back room and with not a hint of pretension. A business built on passion, ideas and some extremely odd retail concepts. Money was an after-thought and thus not much was made. The whole shop was a physical extension of the inner Holmesy: humble, wise, interesting, eccentric.

The music Simon made with Alannah, Mark and Rob in the Hummingbirds has given me and many others immense pleasure for nearly 30 years. The band that defined my 20s, Disneyfist, played Hindsight as our final song at our final show, a musical nod of respect to the band that meant everything to the four of us. The music he helped my brother Adam and I make with Modern Giant, The Aerial Maps and the Ark Ark Birds has helped define my adult life. It is difficult to overstate the influence of Simon on me and my close musical allies.

Holmesy taught me many things over many years and I can only hope that my encouragement/cajoling and our friendship over those years gave him at least a small amount of pleasure in return, I certainly owed him.

My heart breaks for Justine and Maisie, for Rob and Milo, Lannie and Mark.

I think Simon would be genuinely embarrassed by all the attention including this piece of writing but I’m sure his reaction would be the same as every time he received a compliment: an honest look of slight surprise, followed by the simple response, “Why thank you.”

No Holmesy, thank you.

Go easy my friend.

Our friend Simon Holmes (by Andrew Khedoori)

Andrew Khedoori is the Music Director at 2SER, where Simon had a radio show called Spin The Black Circle.

I’m certainly not the most qualified to write about Simon, but I’m compelled to. Anyone in Simon’s sphere from the 90s onwards in what we might now clumsily call the alternate Sydney music scene would have known him to be a most compelling figure.

There was such a force to Simon – his songs often just flew right into you with their emotional energy. Then there was the intellectual force to Simon, immediate to you from any conversation with him, his words always forming eloquent sentences of such gravity and insight. I often thought he could have been a political speechwriter – anyone who could convince me to try on the back catalogue of Sisters of Mercy could turn me any way – but knew that would be too black and white for him and his allegiance was always with music.

Music was the conduit for Simon to make sense of the world. This is the same for so many of us, the sole pursuit of listening to an artist that offers you the chance to connect with yourself. Of course, music can and should also be an exchange and through all his activities, Simon did his utmost to uphold this. Sitting at the high counter of his record store Enthusiasms, Simon was the only person in music retail not to look at me sideways when asking about a 1970s psychedelic folk duo from Honolulu but also to be wide-eyed and wondering about them.

For all his towering knowledge about so much music, he never held it against you, sharing it at any opportunity. This made him perfect for radio and he delighted at my invitation to produce a program at 2SER while agonising over how that program would take shape. Showing that any faux sense of cool could never enter his mindset on music, he named his show Spin The Black Circle after a Pearl Jam song and proceeded each week to take listeners on a decidedly non-linear journey to connect the dots of 20th century popular music and beyond.

His defining first episode made kindred spirits of his beloved prog rock and the punk that spurred him into songwriting, showing there was no real conflict between the two and both could co-exist happily in harmony. They certainly could for him, anyway – although he hilariously told us this happened some time after he defiantly trashed his Genesis and Yes records after hearing the Sex Pistols.

Spin The Black Circle moved from gangster rap to Debussy with a grace that both confounded and fascinated its audience. When Simon’s son Milo joined the program, Spin The Black Circle became a rare display of father and son bonding, a discourse on music that uniquely gave us so much more in the name of love and friendship.

There will be so much written and said about Simon, so many different memories and thoughts because he engaged with and touched so many people. That we now have lost him is the timeliest of reminders to talk to one another, to listen, to share and to find common ground. To keep things going.