London-based DJ Freddie Thomas died Sunday following a lengthy battle with cancer.
Born in Chicago in 1975, Freddie lived in the US and Egypt before coming to the UK to attend the American International University In London, Richmond, in 1994. He studied theatre arts.
A brief stint as a cabaret singer led to him working as a backing vocalist. He performed with Jimmy Somerville at a Stonewall benefit at the Royal Albert Hall in 1997.
However, it was for his DJ skills that he made his name. He began working at gay venues in the UK capital in the mid-90s: first as a bar man at the Richmond Arms before taking on a regular DJ spot.
Thomas specialized in r’n’b, soul and house, finding residencies at clubs such as Bromptons, the Bump, Queer Nation and Work (Heaven). He also played regularly at many straight venues, such as Tiger Tiger, Onanon and The Loop.
‘It’s such a rarity to find someone that nobody can say a bad word about’
‘We worked together for a while at Bromptons in Earl’s Court,’ remembers friend Angus Wharton. ‘Me behind the bar and him behind the decks. These were some of the best years, he was such a great friend and we had so much fun together.
‘I would regularly go with him to DJ gigs and as soon as he was finished we would head back to his, not for a crazy party but to watch Star Trek Enterprise.
‘It’s such a rarity to find someone that nobody can say a bad word about, but that was Freddie. He was always kind, fun and loving and would do anything for his friends.’
In 2008, Thomas was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor. He posted on Facebook that at first, he ‘Kept it a secret from all my friends only because I don’t want them to treat me differently.’
However, in later years, his condition worsened. Subsequent rounds of chemotherapy and surgery led to him disclosing the news to those close to him.
Among those to pay tribute was promoter Patrick Lilley, who said he was ‘broken hearted’ at the news. He paid tribute to the way that Thomas had coped with his health problems in recent years.
‘Nothing compared to the bravery, humor and style you brought to the challenges you faced.
‘I am blessed and grateful to have met one of life’s truly kind, talented, funny, generous, and unique souls who changed my life so dramatically on very personal and also professional level over the last 15 years.’
Another, Vicki Morton, said on Facebook, ‘Freddie was the funniest, coolest, most interesting guys I could ever wish to meet. I had such great Friday evenings in the DJ booth at Abacus many years ago. He made the music, he made the night. So so sad. He was and always will be so loved and so missed.’
He died just a few days short of his 42nd birthday.