John Speaks

Stereophile editor John Atkinson served as the opening act for the Grand Giveaway on the final day of THE Show 2010. In his short talk, John reflected on the losses of the past year. He first honored two of his departed mentors, John Crabbe and J. Gordon Holt, both of whom were central to the development of high-end audio. He also honored the memory of Al Stiefel, who co-founded the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest with his wife, Marjorie Baumert.

"Al was an example of the kind of grassroots energy that our industry thrives on," John noted. He recalled that just a year ago, when he and Al had gotten together at THE Show to discuss plans for the coming year's RMAF, Al was filled with enthusiasm and passion.

It was also a bad year of losses in the world of music. Wilma Cozart Fine, producer of the Mercury Living Stereo recordings, died. So did speaker pioneer Jim Thiel, who never let anyone know he was ill with cancer.

"I'd known Jim for 30 years," said John. "He typified the best of our industry, in that he had a vision of what he wanted to do. Jim began with the classic workshop in the garage, and with time and continued improvement of his products, became a major manufacturer."

This led John to the core of his message: the passion and love of music that are the heart of the high-end. "We need the excitement," he said. "Even if it was a bad year, when many manufacturers did little or no business in the first six months, the passion and excitement are still there. They're what I've been feeling all over this show. I think 2010 will be a better year than those that came before."