Our friend Simon Holmes
We lost our friend and broadcasting comrade Simon Holmes last week. Thank you Simon, for all you gave Australian music and the wonderful, insightful listening each week on Spin The Black Circle. 2SER sends love to all family and friends at this time.
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 upon 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.
Andrew Khedoori, July 2017