Chester Thompson

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Not to be confused with the keyboardist of the same name who has played with Santana and Tower of Power, among others, who is Chester D. Thompson[1].
Chester Thompson
2157 - Pittsburgh - Mellon Arena - Genesis - Drum Duet (Chester Thompson crop).JPG
Chester playing with Genesis during the Turn It On Again Tour (2007)
Background information
Birth name Chester Cortez Thompson
Born (1948-12-11) December 11, 1948 (age 68)
Baltimore, Maryland, US
Genres Progressive rock, pop rock, jazz fusion
Instruments Drums, percussion
Years active 1973–present
Associated acts Genesis, Phil Collins, Steve Hackett, Frank Zappa, The Mothers of Invention, Weather Report, Era, Ron Kenoly, Bee Gees

Chester Cortez Thompson (born December 11, 1948) is an American drummer and session musician.[2]


Thompson made his name as a session drummer. One of his first bands was Doc 'Soul Stirrer' Young and the We Four Trio. He played in Frank Zappa's touring band in 1973-74 alongside percussionist Ruth Underwood and jazz keyboardist George Duke.[3] Thompson played on several Zappa albums, including Roxy & Elsewhere (Live recording 8-10.12.1973 & 8.5.1974), You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 2 (Live in Helsinki, Finland 22–23.9.1974, released 1988) and One Size Fits All (1975).

In 1976 he played on Weather Report's album Black Market.

From 1977-2007, Thompson played with Genesis as their touring drummer.[4] His relationship with the band began when he replaced Bill Bruford, who took over live drum duties for Phil Collins in 1976 when Collins assumed the role of frontman for the departed Peter Gabriel, (although Collins would remain behind the drum kit in the studio and he continued to play drums onstage during extended instrumental sections of certain songs). Thompson officially became the touring drummer [5] in 1977, playing on their tours in that year and in 1978, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983/4, 1986/7, 1992 and the 2007 reunion Turn It On Again Tour. Chester is featured on their live albums Seconds Out (1977), Three Sides Live (1982), The Way We Walk Volume 1 (1992) & Volume 2 (1993) and Live Over Europe 2007. He chose not to be involved in the band's Calling All Stations European tour in 1998, following the band's failure to invite him to join the studio band after Phil Collins's departure.

Thompson has also worked with Phil Collins on his solo concert tours, drumming on the 1982/83 Hello, I Must Be Going! tour, 1985 No Jacket Required tour, 1990 ...But Seriously tour, The Tarzan Premiere tour of 1999 and The Final Farewell tour of 2004/05. He also appears on Phil Collins' Serious Hits... Live! (1990) live album and DVD, and has released his own solo album, A Joyful Noise (1999, Camino Records, CAMCD16).

In 1989, Thompson worked as the drummer for Bee Gees for their One for All tour, in support for their One album. He was later replaced by the late Michael Murphy in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Thompson also plays on the Steve Hackett albums, Please Don't Touch (1978) and Watcher of the Skies: Genesis Revisited (1996). Later on, he played on Tony Banks' solo album A Curious Feeling (1979). He also appears on Steve Hackett's live album The Tokyo Tapes released in 1998 which also features John Wetton, Ian McDonald and Julian Colbeck.

He was also a founding member of the band Fire Merchants with Brand X guitarist John Goodsall and bassist Doug Lunn and appeared on their first eponymous recording in 1989. Thompson played drums with Santana in 1984 and is credited in the Beyond Appearances album along with Chester D. Thompson on keyboards.

Thompson performing in 1981

He was also a member of Air Pocket, a band with the Fowler Brothers at its core.

Chester Thompson is Adjunct Instructor at Belmont University's School of Music in Nashville.

He is currently a member of the Chester Thompson Trio. The group released a CD in 2013 entitled "Approved". The other members of the group are Joe Davidian, piano/keyboards and Michael Rinne, Acoustic/Electric Bass.

Drumming style and gear[edit]

Thompson's playing style is widely acknowledged and respected, and can be seen on numerous live videos of Genesis, from 1977 up to early 1990s. His live playing with the band is a striking mixture of his own style and Collins' own, being equally comfortable with acoustic and electronic drums and is renowned for using double bass drums. In the past, Thompson has endorsed Ludwig Drums (1970-March, 1977), Pearl Drums (April, 1977 - July, 1987), Sonor Drums (1990–1999) and Paiste cymbals (1970–90), but has endorsed DW Drums since 2000 and Sabian cymbals since 1990. He uses Remo drumheads, Meinl Percussion, Gibraltar racks and has his own Regaltip Chester Thompson signature drumstick.

Selected discography[edit]


  • A Joyful Noise (1991, Mesa/Bluemoon )
    • with George Duke, Gerald Albright, Brandon Fields & Fowler Brothers
  • Approved (2013, Joyful Noise Inc)
    • with the Chester Thompson Trio

"Simpler Times" (2015, Chester Thompson Trio)

As sideman[edit]

With Frank Zappa

With Weather Report

With Air Pocket

  • 1976: Fly On (East Wind)
  • 1985: Hunter
  • 1988: Breakfast for Dinosaurs

With Genesis (live albums)

With Steve Hackett

With Tony Banks

With Ahmad Jamal

With Santana

With Fire Merchants

  • 1989: Fire Merchants

With Phil Collins

With Chris Catena

  • 2004: Freak Out


  1. ^ "The Official Carlos Santana Web Site". Santana. Retrieved 2016-01-30. 
  2. ^ Chester Thompson Official Site
  3. ^ Jenkins, Todd (2002-04-24). "CD/LP Review: Black Market". All About Jazz. Retrieved 2010-06-01. 
  4. ^ Kelman, John. "Genesis: The Movie Box 1981-2007". All About Jazz. Retrieved 2010-06-01. 
  5. ^ Doerschuk, Bob (1 May 2002). Playing from the heart: great musicians talk about their craft. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 237. ISBN 978-0-87930-704-2. Retrieved 1 June 2010. 

External links[edit]