RIP, Thomas Peake

Horrible news. My friend Thomas Peake died in a fall from a trail in the Grand Canyon. There is a memorial group for him on Facebook and I’m sure there will be no end of reminiscences about him. My friend Chris has a post about this sad loss, starting from the point when Thomas was missing when there was still hope of him being found alive. Those were the days.

I can count on one hand the number of people I’ve met who I’ve never heard a bad word about, and Thomas was one. Hell, he might be the only one. He always had a smile on his face. This kid was so full of joy that it leaked everywhere and splashed everyone in his vicinity. I’m pretty sure that the last time I saw him I told him that I loved him. It was around the time my Dad died and I was keenly feeling that mortality pressure that says “Don’t leave these things unsaid. You never know what time is the last time you see a friend.” I was just in Atlanta two weeks ago but because I was busy with Dragon*Con I didn’t reach out to any of my friends away from the con. I could have seen Thomas but I didn’t. That’s a decision that will haunt me.

Thomas taught me how to screen print, from making the screens with the light table through squeegeeing down the ink, in the old Student Center building at Georgia Tech. It was on his word that I first listened to Fugazi. I saw Pineal Ventana for the first time at a house party of his in Home Park, and I believe I brought my mom to one of those crazy affairs. I worked with him in many capacities at WREK and would hang out with him at shows all around Atlanta. I’m pretty sure we skanked together to “Take the Skinheads Bowling” at a Camper Van Beethoven show once. I converted one of his zines to HTML in the early days of the web for his “micro-publishery” experiments. He published music zines and screen printed his own covers while I sat in awe watching him mix inks so that no two would be the same.

When I was working in the Perimeter area around 2003, one day driving home I heard this car honking at me when I wasn’t doing anything. I was annoyed, and I looked over to see Thomas with a goofy smile on his face, waving and honking like crazy. We had lunch a few times after that, and the last of those was the last time I ever saw him in person. I loved this crazy man and I wish I had spent 100x the hours in his presence that I actually did.

Several of my friends have had health scares in recent years, including one that just saw his own home for the first time in six weeks this weekend. People my age that I know have died, but they were acquaintances. Thomas is the first of my peers to pass, a guy I deeply loved and who made my life appreciably better by just knowing me. This is a corner I wish we’d never turned, and if I could jump into the Grand Canyon to bring him back I would. He was a better guy than I will ever be so that’s a trade that would be plus EV. I’ve known for less than an hour and the shock is still sinking in, but all I can think is that the burden is now on all his friends to be better people as a way to honor his memory. I’m starting now and if you catch me slipping, call me on it. If you play the Peake card, there is no defense.

My deepest condolences go out to his wife, his family and all of the rest of his friends who are bereaved. There may be thousands in that last camp, as Thomas was a gregarious, loving, well loved guy. Losing him is a wound that will never heal, but may we all learn to one day live with the pain.

11 Replies to “RIP, Thomas Peake”

  1. I am too, and that is a crappy lens. A huge chunk of my podcaster/maker aesthetic comes from Thomas’ reflexive “let’s do something, let’s make something” approach to life. He was my hero and will be my hero until my last breath.

  2. Tom brought some nice (obscure, noisy) records by my store FEED YOUR HEAD MUSIC as housewarming gifts. I’ve know him for 24 years, back when he was just a skinny high schooler working at Turtles in Chamblee with me.

    He and dena were here in the store just a couple weeks back to see how I’d recovered from my July 26 robbery/asaault. He was a class act all the way, a brilliant and funny man. I wish they’d had six kids – not enough Tom Peakes in this world before and now there isn’t one at all except a memory. I’m very, very sad today.

  3. I met Thomas through my brother Arthur when I was in high school in rural north Georgia, and I would visit Atlanta and hang out at WREK. Arthur basically pointed me to THomas and said “look at what this guy is doing. Come to Atlanta and add to the mix.” and Thomas has been a hero of mine ever since…well into oldmanhood. God what a loss.

  4. I was at WREK last night, doing Destroy all Music, and had just finished an excellent book (What is the What by Dave Eggars), in which a sentence hit me hard: “I will live as a good child of God, and will forgive him each time he claims another of the people I love.” Within half an hour, Jon Kincaid told me about Thomas. Everyone who was fortunate enough to know Thomas loved him, I’m sure. How could you not? I too am very, very sad today.

  5. Thomas, you deserved so many more years to help our world be a better place.

    i lived with you in that house in Home Park having those house parties and deeply enjoying the discussions with you and your brother and Ray.

    Your smile will be missed, for it lit up entire sections of our world with ease.

    I am humbled to my core and feel like the world got cheated with you gone and me still in it.

  6. Thomas kicked me off the air one afternoon for being a whiny bitch. I completely deserved it… was on-air bemoaning the fact that I had to play a certain percentage of reggae and bluegrass.

    Afterwards he didn’t hate, but was completely supportive when I took over Pete Rentz’s funk show. I was so proud that he put the name of my show on the back of the 25 years of WREK shirt he designed. I wore that damn shirt until it disintegrated – same with the brilliant “91.1 is a joke” shirt. He was everything that was great about WREK as I was growing to love it in the early 90s. So inspirational – unpretentious… dude had a clip out of Bobby Cremmins on his bathroom wall celebrating an abundance of TP.

    He was someone who you would fall out of touch with, but then immediately be back into step within minutes. What a sweet, sweet, selfless guy. I can’t wait to catch up with him and sort through the big dusty record library in the sky.

    I will still remember looking for the “THOM” signatures next to all the songs that he played. Those were the best tracks! I miss the abundance of you, Mr. TP, even from afar. Please rest in peace – You were quality, a genre of your own. Thanks for everything.

    J

  7. Thomas was the type of person I aspired to be. Its hard to imagine he’s gone. I thought he would always be there, improving the world, helping people, making life fun and interesting for everyone around him. His impact will be felt in a thousand ways. For me, he will always be the guy who made WREK brilliant, who made North Avenue Review happen, the guy who made Georgia Tech a creative and experimental place to be. And the guy who brought a smile to the face of everyone who met him.

  8. Your thoughts are incredible and I believe do sum everyone’s feelings. I had the pleasure of not only being friends but also working together the past few years. He would always tell me exactly what I was up against in a playful manner which would continually make me laugh. We were to meet the day after he returned to continue on a project for me. That will be a very quiet day. I feel very honored to have had Thomas in my life for as long as I did.

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