It is with deep regret that B:Music shares the passing of Chris Baldock on Friday 22 October after a long illness.
Chris was General Manager at Symphony Hall from its opening in 1991, and he held senior roles within the organisation until his retirement in 2016. He was a kind and well-respected individual whose placid exterior belied a deep passion for the arts. He was never happier than when bringing major international names or inspiring new artists to Britain’s finest concert hall.
With previous experience at Brighton Centre, Cornwall Colosseum and Derby Assembly Rooms, Chris brought a calming and genteel approach into the often hard-nosed and brittle-ego’d world of popular music promotion. Impresario Raymond Gubbay said that he was ‘respected and greatly admired’. Former Live Nation COO, Tim Parsons, acknowledged their ‘easy and honest relationship’, noting that he was a ‘music disciple’. When striking a deal, Tim occasionally offered to improve the terms if Chris could recall some obscure musical knowledge ‘which he duly did’.
Although a quiet and private man he loved to be around creators and others who shared his passion for music. Time and exposure did not diminish his appetite for great artists and, when his schedule allowed, he would often sit in on sound checks just to absorb more. Under his tenure the redeveloped Town Hall and Symphony Hall booked many legendary acts, grew in stature and were rarely dark. If his mission had been to make Birmingham a greater cultural centre and hub for the finest music, in his 25 years here he more than succeeded.
Chris endured the many challenges of venue management with typically wry humour. He could be competitive, and he hated to lose a great gig to other venues in or out of the area. He would do his utmost to make a deal work for everyone and rejoice in bringing the best artists to his venues.
B:Music is indebted to Chris for his long service, dedication and skill in building the contemporary music programme that forms such an important part of B:Music’s work. It continues to delight thousands of visitors every year and supports our ambition as a music charity.
Chris is survived by his devoted wife, Debbie, and the two daughters he adored, Kathryn and Sarah. In recent years he had returned to Sussex and during long periods of treatment he continually sought recommendations on the best new music and consumed libraries of music biography and commentary. His legacy is a lifelong love of music, shared with many people, whether they knew him or not.
With thanks to Paul Flower for his contribution to these memories.