Simon Blumlein: 1936-2024

It is with great sadness that we learned last week of the passing of Simon Blumlein after a brief illness. He was 87.

Simon was an incredible friend to and supporter of the EMI Archive Trust. If the name ‘Blumlein’ is familiar to followers of the Trust it is because Simon was the eldest son of Alan Dower Blumlein, one of the UK’s greatest and most consequential inventors and technologists of the 20th Century during his time working for EMI in the 1930s and 1940s. Stereo sound, electric TV, airborne radar and much more all only happened because of the genius that was Alan Dower Blumlein.

Whether it was generously agreeing to help us with producing the promotional video above or on countless other occasions, Simon was a tireless advocate for ensuring his remarkable father achieved the recognition he was due – a goal we at the Trust still feel has very much not yet been fulfilled and something we are committed to continuing to keep pushing for.

However Simon himself was no shirker when it came to continuing the Blumlein family’s polymath over-achiever record. Like his father he too had a deep love of science, technology and music. Including with EMI. In his later years Simon would recount how his younger self had gone to work for EMI’s Central Research Laboratory (CRL) division early on in his own career.

Simon’s pride from the incredible esteem with which the Blumlein name was held within EMI took an unexpectedly challenging turn when the old hands at CRL, many of whom had themselves worked with Simon’s father, seemed to genuinely expect this new generation of Blumlein, through nothing more than genetic inheritance, to both have Alan Blumlein’s towering intellect and consequently the ability to somehow effortlessly interpret and pick-up where his father had left off in all of his countless innovations. Simon was incredibly bright himself, but as he had to point out that was an expectation too far!

Meanwhile on the music side, Simon would later open his own record shop to enable him to indulge his enormous love and prodigious knowledge of classical music in both his work and leisure hours.

Simon’s father’s work also gave him a fittingly unique status among, well everyone. When King Charles III was crowned last year, as far as most people were aware, it was the second televised UK coronation following on from Queen Elizabeth II’s in 1953. Like most people with access to TV then and now, Simon watched both events. But unlike everyone else, Simon was the only person who had also watched the previous televised coronation – that of King George VI in 1937.

He didn’t remember it, taking place as it did the day before his first birthday. But he definitely watched it as Alan Blumlein used the event as an opportunity to test his TV innovations. The signal only reached one house – his own, where the baby Simon watched the test broadcast on his mother Doreen’s lap.

Simon Blumlein was a wonderful friend and colleague to all who knew him. He is already greatly missed but for our part at least at the EMI Archive Trust, we will always keep his memory alive.

Simon is survived by Anne, his wife of 59 years, his brother David, children Alan, James and Charles, and his six grandchildren.