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Anton Fig (born 8 August 1952 in Cape Town, South Africa), known as "The Thunder from Down Under," is a South African/American session drummer, noted for his work in David Letterman's house band, the CBS Orchestra. Letterman often refers to Fig as "Anton Zip" or "Buddy Rich Jr."
Fig began playing drums at age four. After performing in numerous successful local rock bands, he moved to Boston to further pursue his musical interests. His formal education included studies at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, where he studied jazz and classical disciplines, and graduated with honors in 1975. In 1976, he moved to New York City, where he began to establish a career as a freelance musician.
Fig was a member of the band Spider and played on both their releases in 1980 and 1981, and also played with Shanghai on their 1982 release. Fig was a member of ex-Kiss lead guitarist Ace Frehley's solo project Frehley's Comet from 1984 to 1987, as well as the drummer on Frehley's 1978 solo album. Other artists with whom he has worked include Bob Dylan, Warren Zevon, B. B. King, Peter Frampton, Joan Armatrading, Cyndi Lauper, Link Wray, Robert Gordon, Joe Bonamassa, Beth Hart and Kix. Fig also played drums on all but one song on Kiss's 1979 album Dynasty and every song on their 1980 album Unmasked.
Fig has been the drummer for the Paul Shaffer-led house band of David Letterman's late night television shows since 1986, when he debuted with "The World's Most Dangerous Band" on NBC's Late Night with David Letterman. When Letterman's show moved to CBS in 1993 and became Late Show with David Letterman, the band (and Fig) moved as well, adding a horn section and becoming known as the "CBS Orchestra".
During this tenure, Fig and the rest of the band have played with scores of artists including Miles Davis, James Brown, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Winwood, Bonnie Raitt, and Tony Bennett. Fig also played parts in several of the show's comic sketches, including the recurring gag, "Anton Fig's Guess The Expiration Date", in which Fig would be blindfolded and fed a perishable food product and attempt to guess the expiration date on the item solely from tasting it. The CBS Orchestra has also backed up a host of artists in other venues, such as Stevie Wonder, Faith Hill, Little Richard, and also B. B. King at the closing ceremonies of the summer 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. They also backed Al Green, Gloria Estefan, 'N Sync, and Eric Clapton for VH1's Save the Music concert at the White House.
The CBS Orchestra is also the house band for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Additionally, they were the backup band for The Concert for New York City where they performed with David Bowie, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, Eric Clapton and Buddy Guy, Macy Gray, and James Taylor.
On occasions when Paul Shaffer has been absent from The Late Show or has guest-hosted, Fig has filled in as bandleader.
Some of the many recordings Fig has made include selections with Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, Cyndi Lauper, Madonna, Gary Moore, Shanghai, Ace Frehley, Joan Armatrading, Rosanne Cash, Joe Cocker, John Phillips, Warren Zevon, Sebastian Bach, Oz Noy, Jed Davis, Joe Satriani, Paul Butterfield, and Chris Spedding. He replaced Peter Criss on the Kiss albums Dynasty (1979) and Unmasked (1980), playing drums on all tracks for both albums (except Criss' song from Dynasty, "Dirty Livin'"). Due to Kiss' management attempting to cover up any personnel problems within the band, Fig would not be credited until years later, and Criss appears in the video for "Shandi" off the Unmasked album.
As a freelance drummer, Fig has also played live with Paul Simon, Booker T and the MG's, The Thompson Twins at Live Aid, and Jim Keltner for Bob Dylan's 30th anniversary concert celebration. In 1996, Fig released a drum instructional video and book titled In the Groove and Late Night Drumming, respectively.
In 2002, Fig completed his first solo record, Figments. Produced and co-written by Fig, the record represents three years of work and includes - among others singers and musicians - Richie Havens, Brian Wilson, Ivan Neville, Sebastian Bach, Ace Frehley, Al Kooper, Chris Spedding, Donald 'Duck' Dunn, Blondie Chaplin, Paul Shaffer, Chris Botti, Randy Brecker, and Richard Bona. In 2006, Fig worked with Blackmore's Night on The Village Lanterne. In 2007, Fig worked with Joe Bonamassa on his Sloe Gin album, in 2009 on his Ballad of John Henry album, and in 2014 on Different Shades of Blue. On 4 May 2009, Anton joined Joe Bonamassa's band for their debut appearance at the famous Royal Albert Hall in London, where Eric Clapton made a guest appearance. A DVD capturing this performance was subsequently released. Fig was featured on Ace Frehley's album Anomaly, released on 15 September 2009.
Fig continues to be an in-demand studio and live musician, and currently records and composes for numerous projects.
- Official website
- 2014 Audio Interview with Anton Fig from the Podcast "I'd Hit That
- Anton Fig at the Internet Movie Database
- Rockin in the USA - Bands Touched by KISS - By Anthony Camponelli - http://www.kissonline.com/news/index.php?mode=archive&id=1683