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.

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