Legendary Sound Man–Tom Keith Dies

Image634560943104030000Tom Keith, “A Prairie Home Companion’s” Master Sound Effects Man and who also co-hosted a weekday morning program on Minnesota Public Radio, died Sunday October 29th after having a heart attack at his home in Woodbury, Minn., a St. Paul suburb. He was 64.

From a 2008 Program: Garrison Keillor and Tom Keith tell you the rundown of Saturday's edition of A Prairie Home Companion, live from the Fitzgerald Theater in Downtown St. Paul.

Keith was the sound effects of the program.  It wasn’t just a job where a guy on a control board pushed a button at the right moment, but rather it was Keith's vocal ability that created all of the little nuance sound effects that made “A Prairie Home companion’s” Live Radio Show such a realistic experience for millions around the world.
"Tom was one of radio's great clowns," said the show’s creator and long-time host Garrison Keillor, who had worked with Keith since the mid-1970s. "He was serious about silliness and worked hard to get a moo exactly right and the cluck, too, and the woof. His whinny was amazing — noble, vulnerable, articulate. He did bagpipes, helicopters, mortars, common drunks, caribou ... garbage trucks backing up, handsaws and hammers, and a beautiful vocalization of a man falling from a great height into piranha-infested waters."

"We are still stunned and saddened at the news of the death of Tom Keith, the masterful sound effects guy on A Prairie Home Companion. We were just with the APHC crew last weekend in Colorado Springs so, even though Tom wasn't at the gig as he'd decided years ago that he'd just do the home shows in St. Paul, it was a shock to get home from the weekend's work and hear that he'd passed away on Sunday. It's been nice to read the tributes about him in the press and from his many friends. Tom was the kind of guy who treated everyone the same. He was his gracious self to whomever came on the show be they famous or not. We went on a weeklong vacation with him once and still remember how thrilled folks were to know that the sound effects guy from APHC was staying in the hotel. We're going to miss him and feel so sorry for his wife and family who must feel as if they've been robbed of some good years with their beloved husband, brother and uncle."
   -Robin & Linda Williams

“Whenever Tom came onstage for a sketch, I could see the audience's heads turn in his direction,” Keillor told the Minnesota Star Tribune. They could hear me but they wanted to see Tom, same as you'd watch any magician. Boys watched him closely to see how he did the shotgun volleys, the singing walrus, the siren, the helicopter, the water drips. His effects were graceful, precise, understated, like the man himself. All of us at the show are shocked by his passing and send our sincere condolences to his family and also to the listeners who enjoyed his work so much.”

1 comment:

Mark Trezise said...

Last night during an APHC broadcast, APHC cast members Garrison Keilor, Tim Russell, Sue Scott, Fred Newman, Rich Dworsky, and Pat Donohue talked privately about their reactions to the sudden death of long-time sound effects man Tom Keith.