The Legacy of Tony Thompson

Tony Thompson’s life and career were marked by his incredible talent, versatility, and passion for music. From his early days with the Big Apple Band to his work with Chic, Power Station, and beyond, Thompson’s drumming helped shape the sound of disco and rock music. 

Thompson was a prolific drummer who made an indelible mark on the music industry during his career. Born and raised in New York, he formed the Big Apple Band with guitarist Nile Rodgers and bassist Bernard Edwards in the early 1970s. 

Early Career: The Big Apple Band

Thompson’s music career began in the early 1970s when he formed the Big Apple Band with guitarist Nile Rodgers and bassist Bernard Edwards. The group played a mix of rock, funk, and soul but failed to gain traction with audiences.

Despite this, the three musicians continued to collaborate, eventually forming Chic, which would become one of the most popular groups of the era. 

Chic: The Disco Icons

Thompson’s drumming was instrumental in Chic’s success, and the band sold millions of records during their heyday. While other disco groups relied on drum machines, Thompson kept a rock-steady beat with his drumming, making him one of the most sought-after drummers of his time. 

The band’s sound was a fusion of funk, soul, and disco, and their music was known for its upbeat tempo and infectious dance grooves. Their music was characterized by its tight instrumentation and catchy hooks, with Edwards’ basslines and Thompson’s drumming providing a solid foundation for Rodgers’ guitar riffs and the band’s horn and string sections. 

Chic’s popularity declined in the early 1980s, and the band eventually disbanded.

Session Work and Power Station

After Chic disbanded in 1983, Tony Thompson’s career as a session drummer continued to flourish. He collaborated with several notable artists, including Sister Sledge, David Bowie, and Madonna.

In 1985, Thompson joined forces with Duran Duran members John Taylor and Andy Taylor, as well as Robert Palmer, to form the supergroup Power Station. The band’s sound was a fusion of rock, funk, and new wave, and their self-titled debut album was a commercial success, featuring the hit singles “Some Like It Hot” and “Get It On (Bang a Gong).” 

Thompson’s time with Power Station was short-lived, and the band disbanded in 1986. However, his contributions to the band’s sound were significant, and his drumming helped to establish Power Station as one of the most exciting bands of the mid-1980s.

The Untimely Death of A Drumming Legend

Thompson underwent cancer surgery earlier this year, but his condition worsened, and he died on November 12th, 2003 at his home in Los Angeles. He was 48 years old. 

Thompson was known for his effortless ability to move from jazz to rock to funk, making him a prized session musician. Sadly, Thompson’s life was cut short due to health complications.

Mike O'Connor
Mike O'Connor

I've been playing drums for over 18 years. I work as both a session drummer and a drum teacher, and I love to share my knowledge and tips on this site. You can also find me on the Electronic Drum Advisor YouTube channel.

Leave a Comment

Leave a reply

Electronic Drum Advisor