Friday, July 10, 2009

Danny Thompson

Daniel Henry Edward 'Danny' Thompson (born 4 April 1939) is an English double bass player. He has had a long musical career playing with a large variety of other musicians, particularly Richard Thompson (no relation) and John Martyn, but including many others: at various times has for example played with Roy Orbison, Julie Felix, Freddie and the Dreamers, Tubby Hayes, Ronnie Scott, Tom Paxton, Donovan, Vivian Stanshall, David Sylvian, Kate Bush, Mary Hopkin and Tim Buckley. For five years, he was a member of Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated, and he was a founding member of the British folk rock band Pentangle. Since 1987, he has also recorded four solo albums. He converted to Islam in 1990.[1]



[edit] Biography and career

Danny Thompson was born in Teignmouth, Devon, in 1939. His father, a miner, joined the Royal Navy at the start of World War II and was lost in action whilst crewing submarines. When Thompson was aged 6, the family moved to LondonBattersea. At school he excelled at football and played as a junior for Chelsea, the team he has supported ever since. Whilst at school he learnt guitar, mandolin, trumpet and trombone before settling on the double bass as his instrument of choice. and he was brought up in the working-class area of

While he has his own album releases, his highest profile recordings are currently with Richard Thompson e.g. Mirror Blue, The Old Kit Bag, and the concert DVD release Richard Thompson Live in Austin Texas, from the Austin City Limits series.

Like many musicians, Danny Thompson's life has featured brushes with substance abuse. During his partnership with John Martyn, their drinking and the excessive behaviour it spawned became the stuff of legend. In one incident related by Martyn, he woke up after passing out on a hotel room floor, to find himself under a rug which Thompson had nailed down, leaving only Martyn's head exposed. Thompson went about his business, eating breakfast etc., ignoring Martyn's pleas to let him loose. An acclaimed biography of Thompson was written by John Hillarby.

Danny received a Lifetime achievement award in the 2007 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.

[edit] "Victoria"

Danny Thompson's initial experience of bass playing was with a Skiffle group, with whom he played a tea chest bass (a bass he built himself out of a tea chest, which folded up so he could carry it). In the early 1960s he bought a second-hand double bass from an old man in Battersea who let him have the instrument for £5 (despite the fact that it was worth much more than that), on the basis of his keenness to play it. He christened the instrument "Victoria" and it has remained his instrument of choice ever since. The bass was built by Gand, a French luthier, in 1865.

Victoria has been Thompson's sole instrument for the majority of his career, aside from three tours playing bass guitar for Roy Orbison in 1963.[2] In response to increasingly stringent airline luggage regulations, Danny acquired a Czech-Ease[2] travel bass in early 2007. Victoria is now used for all his work in the UK, with the new bass, named "Alfie", used for all international engagements.

In the early part of the 1980s he worked closely with documentary film-maker, Roy Deverell and composed music for two of his award-winning films about John Aspinall's pioneering work with endangered mammals.

[edit] Partial discography

[edit] Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated

  • Red Hot From Alex (1964)
  • Sky High (1966)
  • Blues Incorporated (1967 - re-issue of Sky High)
  • I Wonder Who (1967)
  • 'A New Generation of Blues (1968)

[edit] Pentangle

[edit] Danny Thompson

  • Whatever (1987)
  • Whatever Next (1989)
  • Elemental (1990)
  • Whatever’s Best (1995)
  • Danny Thompson & Peter Knight (1995)

[edit] Richard Thompson and Danny Thompson

[edit] Others

Danny Thompson has played on dozens of albums during his career. The following is only a small selection.

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