Friends, family, co-workers, and country music artists are mourning the death of 68-year-old Thomas “Thom” Roberts, who was shot and killed by his wife on Sunday evening, July 9th, in Nashville. Police were called to the 1200 block of Howard Avenue in East Nashville at about 8:00 pm by neighbors after the wife of Thomas Roberts shot him in the chest on the front porch of the couple’s home. Roberts was later pronounced dead at the scene.
Police arrived at the home and encountered Christine Roberts, who said she shot her husband because he had cheated on her. They recovered the pistol used in the shooting beside her. She was later booked into Metro jail and charged with criminal homicide, with a bond set at $100,000.
Along with working for other artists and venues, Thomas Roberts had been the beloved lighting technician for Randy Travis for 20 years, and had also supplied lighting for Vince Gill. Roberts traveled all across the country, and was well-known throughout the country music industry.
“The stage has gone dim with the passing of Thom Roberts,” Randy Travis said in a statement. “For many years, the Randy Travis band and crew had the opportunity to share the winding roads and the beautiful venues with one of the very best stage lighting technicians in the business. Thom not only had a magical sense about lighting a stage; but, he had a quiet, charismatic presence that ignited your soul. Always willing, with a ‘can do’ and ‘happy to do it’ attitude. He was a gentle giant of a man that wore a constant smile on his face and carried a song in his heart. One would search a lifetime to find a kinder, gentler spirit. Thom was my friend and I loved him dearly.”
Neighbors of Thom Roberts said that he was a caring man as well. Roberts had recently retired mostly, and was planning to travel to Italy with his grandson.
Vice President of the Nashville-based Bandit Lites, Inc., Michael Golden, said of Roberts, “Thom was a talented lighting professional and just as importantly he was a humble, yet extremely genuine man. I got to know Thom in the early 90s when I had the opportunity to work with him as the supplier of lighting for Vince Gill, and I consider Thom one of the ‘old guard’ that transformed the wild west of touring into a respected and professional career. Thom worked for many artists and institutions around the city, but anytime I ever heard his name a smile would cross my face. This city and our music community will miss Thom, but we will all be better because of his reputation and the foundation he helped build.”
The killing of Thomas Roberts comes at a time when multiple members of country music’s behind-the-scenes industry have died tragically. Audio engineer Duane Tabinski was killed on June 30th at a NASCAR event in Chicago due to electrocution. Grammy-winning audio engineer Mark Capps was killed by police in January in an incident friends and family continue to have many questions about.
“It certainly won’t be the same; and, I know I speak for the entire band and crew when I say the light that he truly created, in our hearts, will never be extinguished or forgotten,” the statement from Randy Travis continues. “Tonight, I will look toward heaven and am sure I will see flashes of Thom’s handiwork in the night sky—letting us know he is home, and all is well.”