It is with great sadness that we share the news of the death of our friend and colleague, Andy Clough, who has died in Teddington, London at the age of 58.
Andy really was Mr What Hi-Fi?, dedicating the best part of 25 years of his working life to the magazine and then the website, successfully overseeing a multitude of changes for the brand and helping it adapt and thrive as the media landscape shifted over the years.
He did this with a cheery energy and endeavour, embodying the idea of leading by example. Enthusiastic, friendly, diligent and dedicated, his own personality and passion came to be central to the What Hi-Fi? ethos.
He was a lynchpin of the UK hi-fi industry, with an unrivalled contact book, who was a friend rather than colleague to so many. This was testament to the way he dedicated himself to the job but also his desire to take the time to cultivate meaningful relationships in a small, friendly industry.
Andy was as passionate and focused about the products, music and movies, as he was about the 9 to 5, which meant events such as the What Hi-Fi? Awards, the Bristol Hi-Fi Show and CES in Las Vegas were as much about seeing old friends, chewing the fat and enjoying a life and job he loved, as they were about “work”. Of course, he would always get that part done, too, with an unerring efficiency to which we all continue to aspire. Andy would be first at breakfast and yet always prepared to do one more story at the end of the day. He’d happily buy that one last round in the bar, too.
He was a lively, friendly presence in the office, always delivering an upbeat, “Morning!” or a winking, “What time do you call this?”, as his team rolled into the office after his arrival (and it would be after his arrival). His snorting laughter and love of a good yarn, or some industry gossip, made the What Hi-Fi? desks a fun, relaxed place to be, and ensured so many of his colleagues were happy to put down roots and enjoy long careers on the brand.
That said, noticing a change in mood - perhaps he’d spotted a typo in the magazine or had to deal with an angry PR on the phone - was a skill we all learned, too. Andy’s legendary “desk slam” was a more overt way of telling us to give him a wider berth for an hour or so; the fact it was always followed by a quick, “Sorry, everyone”, would at least put newer members of the team a little more at ease (and allow older colleague to share a smile).
Of course, what this really showed was how much Andy cared about his work and What Hi-Fi? as a brand. The high esteem in which What Hi-Fi? is held today, in the UK and around the world, from readers and manufacturers alike, is in a very large way down to Andy. His attention to detail will keep us all on our toes for years to come.
Andy’s energy for life kept him busy out of work, rowing on the river near his home in Teddington, and later running and cycling. His dedication to his local Park Run, for example, saw him turn up week after week without fail. If Andy said he would do something, in work and in life, he would do it. This utter reliability was something of an open joke in the office: we all knew we could count on him, no matter what.
Andy’s last trade show, spent hobbling around CEDIA in Denver despite having “done something to my leg”, was yet another example. Andy couldn’t let anyone down, so there was no question of missing the trip. This “something” proved to be a fracture, which would ultimately alert Andy to his prostate cancer.
With complete predictability, Andy continued to be as involved as he could with What Hi-Fi? following his diagnosis, from checking emails and keeping in touch with the team, to sharing the latest news and reviews on social media. We missed him as much as he missed us, hastily rearranging our team Christmas dinner to Andy’s local pub where his spirits were so high it was easy to forget there was anything wrong with him at all.
Andy loved to joke that “everyone will wonder what I was doing” as he’d pass on his regards following a new issue of the magazine or the end of a busy period on the website, without perhaps realising that a small army of people were having to cover his job. And of course it was the team he had assembled and moulded so effectively that could step up when it was required.
“Cloughie” was already sorely missed in the Future offices - having quickly made friends around the company following the move from Haymarket - and by visiting members of the industry who were used to Andy delivering the first welcoming handshake. As so many people’s first port of call at What Hi-Fi?, his absence at last year’s Awards was keenly felt by everyone in the room and the well wishes then spoke volumes.
Andy will be greatly missed, as a colleague and friend, by everyone at What Hi-Fi? and within the hi-fi industry. Our thoughts and condolences go out to Andy’s family and friends.