I’m sorry to say that I received some really sad news last week. Thomas Stiehler who was sound engineer on ‘Misplaced Childhood’ and on ‘Internal Exile’ died in Leipzig. He had suffered a serious heart attack that left him in a coma and from which he never recovered.
I had been incredibly fortunate to have spent some time with him recently in Berlin when Steve Rothery , Chris Kimsey and I went over to film the documentary at Hansa studios for Sky Arts.Thomas had joined us in a bar later in the afternoon and we continued on to dinner and an entertaining night round the ‘story box’.
Thomas was one of Life’s great eccentrics and even turned up to the Berlin meeting wearing Harris Tweed plus 4’s! He was a fabulous character and a great sound engineer who contributed greatly to the 2 albums I worked with him on. I have fond and riotously wild memories of our days together both in Berlin and here at the Farm when he was the first engineer to use the new studio in the summer of 1991 .He hadn’t changed a bit when I last saw him and he seemed really happy with his lot in life. He still had the crazy glint in his eye and remained a highly intelligent man with great ideas and a beautiful focus.
He could be insanely serious and humorous both at the same time none more so when he was convinced there were ghosts in the studio. He wouldn’t go into the main room at night to switch the lights off and hated being alone in the control room where equipment would malfunction for no known reason.
During the recording of ‘Exile’ he took a short holiday to Italy where he bumped into a medium. He related the story of the studio ghosts and was told to waft some sage smoke in the rooms that concerned him. When he came back he set about his task with typical fervor after explaining to us in immense details what was wrong. Lo and behold all the mysterious technical problems we had disappeared and the vibe changed.
The weird thing was that the old building that was virtually torn apart during the studio construction was used to house German and Italian prisoners of war who worked on the farm. It was thought that all the energies and spirits of the area were disrupted and they were making their dissatisfaction known.
The sage smoke was attributed to calming them down and we haven’t had a major problem since Thomas’s intervention.
There’s a part of him that will always be here in the studio and anytime I ever smell burning sage I’ll know he is there.
Thomas, despite always having been a city boy loved the ocean and on September 16th his ashes, as he’d wished for, are being scattered from a boat in the North Sea .I’m not able to get to the funeral in North Germany but I’ll be raising a glass on the day on the beach where Chris and he went on long drunken walks on days off from recording.
Slainthe Thomas thanks for all your contributions to my career and for all the laughter that went with it.
He’ll be missed by many and my heart goes out to family and friends who are all shocked and saddened by his loss.
Thomas Stiehler RIP
Photo of Fish, Thomas and Chris Kimsey taken by Steven Rothery in Berlin 19th April 2017 thanks for that Steve x