Bob Thompson (musician)

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Bob Thompson
Birth name Robert Lamar Thompson
Born (1924-08-24)August 24, 1924
San Jose, California, United States
Died May 21, 2013(2013-05-21) (aged 88)
Los Angeles, California
Genres Exotica, space age pop, easy listening, big band, jazz, film scores
Occupation(s) Orchestra leader, composer, arranger
Instruments Piano
Years active 1955-1980
Labels Dot, RCA Victor
Associated acts Rosemary Clooney, Van Dyke Parks, Julie London, Bing Crosby, Mae West[1]

Robert Lamar "Bob" Thompson (August 24, 1924 – May 21, 2013) was a composer, arranger, and orchestra leader from the 1950s through the 1980s. Active in Los Angeles, Thompson was a recording artist for RCA Victor and Dot Records, scored film and television soundtracks, and wrote commercial jingles.[1][2] He composed, arranged, and conducted orchestra for such artists as Rosemary Clooney, Mae West, Julie London, Bing Crosby, The Andrews Sisters, Duane Eddy, Judy Garland, Jerry Lewis, Van Dyke Parks, Phil Ochs, and many others.[2]

Thompson is considered a prime exponent of what has belatedly been termed "Space Age Pop,"[2] or "Space Age Bachelor Pad Music." This style of breezy, experimental orchestral music became popular in the 1950s and 1960s following the introduction of the long-playing microgroove record and the advent of high-fidelity and stereo home audio systems, which allowed enhanced sonic reproduction.


Thompson was born in San Jose, California, in 1924.[1] He worked at radio station KGO, San Francisco, writing arrangements for the station orchestra. He spent time in Paris arranging for Jacqueline Francois and Gloria Lasso, before returning to Los Angeles. He toured as the backing piano accompanist for actress Mae West, and composed music for her song "Criswell Predicts," about the flamboyant American psychic, The Amazing Criswell.[3]

He composed the title theme for the motion picture The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond (1960) and scored the film Thumb Tripping[4] (1972). He contributed arrangements for the films Picnic (1955), Seven Men from Now[5] (1956; title theme), The Long Hot Summer (1958), and I Love You, Alice B. Toklas![6] (1968).[1] Thompson received several Clio Awards for excellence in advertising music and a Grammy Award nomination in 1959 for Best Performance by an Orchestra.

Thompson's albums as a bandleader are Just for Kicks, Mmm, Nice!, and On the Rocks[2] (all on RCA Victor Records), The Sound of Speed (Dot Records, 1960),[1] and That Agency Thing (Private pressing, 1963). Just For Kicks and Mmm, Nice! were recorded at Radio Recorders in 1958 and 1959 respectively, and On the Rocks was recorded at RCA Victor Studios in late 1959. All three albums featured top session musicians from the late 1950s west coast jazz scene, including drummer Shelly Manne, percussionist Emil Richards, alto saxophonist Bud Shank, trombonist Frank Rosolino, trumpeter Al Porcino, guitarist Al Hendrickson, and bassist Red Callender.[1]

The Sound of Speed was reissued by itself on CD by Bacchus Archives in 2004[2] and on vinyl by Sundazed Music in 2010. The three RCA albums were reissued together with bonus tracks by the Spanish reissue label Blue Moon Producciones as a two-CD set in 2011.[7]

He died in Los Angeles in 2013.[8]


On the Rocks by Bob Thompson
  • Just For Kicks (RCA Victor, 1958)[2]
  • Mmm, Nice! (RCA Victor, 1959)
  • On the Rocks (RCA Victor, 1959)
  • The Sound of Speed (Dot Records, 1960)
  • That Agency Thing (Private pressing, 1963)


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Bob Thompson Interview". Cool and Strange Music Magazine. 12 April 1999. Retrieved 1 June 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Vigil, Delfin (26 June 2005). "Hey, Mr. Space Man". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 1 June 2013. 
  3. ^ About Bob Thompson at
  4. ^ "Thumb Tripping". IMDb. Retrieved 1 June 2013. 
  5. ^ "Seven Men from Now". IMDb. Retrieved 1 June 2013. 
  6. ^ "I Love You, Alice B. Toklas!". IMDb. Retrieved 1 June 2013. 
  7. ^ Gasten, David (18 March 2012). "Bob Thompson, His Orchestra and Chorus - Just For Kicks / Mmm, Nice! / On the Rocks". This is Vintage Now. Retrieved 1 June 2013. 
  8. ^ "Bob Thompson dies at 88; 'Space Age pop' composer"; Steve Chawkins, Los Angeles Times, June 10, 2013

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