Dave Palmer

Obituary - Dave "Sonic" Palmer

It is with great regret that we announce that West End sound engineer David Philip Palmer passed away in the early hours of Wednesday 7th of November at the age of 37.

After a brave and prolonged fight against cancer, he leaves behind a fiancé, Alyssa Nicol, as well as mother Valerie, sisters Bonita and Heidi and brothers Gavin and Nick. We offer them our deepest condolences.

Dave and I first worked together on the musical Pippin at the Menier Chocolate Factory. I was uncertain about him at his interview – not only did he arrive carrying three guitars (plus the plans for several more he was planning to build), but background checks revealed that he once caused a catastrophic show stop on Beauty & The Beast while cleaning the mains distro during the performance… Luckily my fears were misplaced – Dave turned out to be an extremely talented sound operator, going on to mix I Can’t Sing at the London Palladium as well as the Olivier Award winning productions of both Merrily We Roll Along and Memphis, in the West End. 

Merrily We Roll Along reminds me of another favourite Dave Palmer story: after a late preview Stephen Sondheim himself walked up to the mixing desk to tell Dave how great the show sounded. Dave accepted the compliments with much good grace and then proceeded to point out how bloody difficult Sondheim had made it for the poor sound operators trying to keep up with his crazy lyrics. After an uncomfortable silence Sondheim burst out laughing, and while wiping tears from his eyes, let out a huge resonant fart before walking back in to the audience. To this day no one is quite sure if the sudden burst of flatulence was the eccentricity of an old man or a statement on Dave’s opinions of his lyrics.

Dave’s sharp wit, great compassion, and the fact that he always wore his heart on his sleeve will be hugely missed by those who knew him – indeed, many considered him an inspiration. His ability to find nuance, texture and soul in the mix where no one else could was legendary - but in an industry surrounded by colleagues, Dave was a true friend.

In the words of David Bryan from Bon Jovi “R.I.P. Dave, Heaven just got themselves a great sound mixer.”

Obituary by Gareth Owen & Andy Yiannaki



Dave wrote an article for The Echo magazine in 2016, which you can read here. Dave finishes the article, describing some of his favourite things, by writing: "I’ve been lucky enough to make some very close friends through making and reinforcing noises and I continue to meet like-minded people through my activities who make paying the bills fun. As such, friends/sound people is probably truly my favourite thing in this field."

Please, leave any thoughts, memories or photos of Dave in the forum topic below. In due course, we'll copy these out on to this page.

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