We Remember Those Who Passed
As we were going to press, we learned of the death of Tony Graham of Grahams Hi-Fi in London. To have to write one obituary in an issue is bad. To have to write two of people you knew well is incredibly difficult. Although Tony Graham might not be the best known person in the industry, he was influential in both building Grahams Hi-Fi up to be one of the most important audio stores of the time. He also at one time helped kick-start a new generation of members into the audio industry. Myself included.
Few will know of him because he was a mild and unassuming man, who rarely ventured beyond the glass walls of his office at the centre of Grahams Hi-Fi's Islington showroom. Even during the late 1980s – when a hi-fi store was a more buzzing place, he almost never set foot on the demonstration floor. In fact, those of us who worked there at the time used to think he had something like a Star Trek transporter pad under his desk; in the evenings, he was in his office, then he disappeared and no one had any recollection of seeing him leave.
For all that, however, he was the beating heart of the company. When he left in the evening, the store quickly dimmed. On the rare occasions he wasn't in the store, it lost something. He was a meticulous and fastidious man, always one to label anything, but he ran the company with quartz-crystal precision and accuracy.
Those of us who got to know him also found he had the driest of wits, but never at someone's expense. He had the kind of humour that was so dry that you would have a conversation with him, realise a few minutes later just what had been said and giggle for hours afterwards. He created an excellent architype for ‘boss' too; he didn't criticise or chew you out... you just knew that you had displeased him and that was morally abhorrant to you.
We lost touch after I left Grahams, although I did see him a few times. He was widowed and remarried, he enjoyed a retirement travelling, until, sadly, that sharp, witty mind began to recede and fade. His son David said at his funeral that there were glimpses of the old Tony now and again. He died on January 9, aged 87.
Tony Graham is survived by his sons David and Peter and his daughter Sue, and his many grandchildren. He will be remembered by a generation of industry people, who remember him like their kindly, witty audio uncle.