Ed Thigpen

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Ed Thigpen
Background information
Birth nameEdmund Leonard Thigpen
Born(1930-12-28)December 28, 1930
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
DiedJanuary 13, 2010(2010-01-13) (aged 79)
Copenhagen, Denmark
Years active1951–2010
Associated acts

Edmund Leonard Thigpen (December 28, 1930 – January 13, 2010)[1] was an American jazz drummer, best known for his work with the Oscar Peterson trio from 1959 to 1965. Thigpen also performed with the Billy Taylor trio from 1956 to 1959.


Born in Chicago, Illinois, United States, Thigpen was raised in Los Angeles, California, and attended Thomas Jefferson High School, where Art Farmer, Dexter Gordon and Chico Hamilton also attended. After majoring in sociology at Los Angeles City College, Thigpen returned to East St. Louis for one year to pursue music while living with his father who had been playing with Andy Kirk's Clouds of Joy.[2] His father, Ben Thigpen, was a drummer who played with Andy Kirk for sixteen years during the 1930s and 1940s.

Thigpen first worked professionally in New York City with the Cootie Williams orchestra from 1951 to 1952 at the Savoy Ballroom. During this time he played with musicians such as Dinah Washington, Gil Mellé, Oscar Pettiford, Eddie Vinson, Paul Quinichette, Ernie Wilkins, Charlie Rouse, Lennie Tristano, Jutta Hipp, Johnny Hodges, Dorothy Ashby, Bud Powell, and Billy Taylor.

In 1959, he replaced guitarist Herb Ellis in the Oscar Peterson Trio in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. In 1961 he recorded in Los Angeles, featuring on the Teddy EdwardsHoward McGhee Quintet album entitled Together Again for the Contemporary label with Phineas Newborn Jr. and Ray Brown. After leaving Peterson, Thigpen recorded the album Out of the Storm as a leader for Verve in 1966. He then went on to tour with Ella Fitzgerald from 1967 to 1972.[3]

In 1972, Thigpen moved to Copenhagen, joining several other American jazz musicians who had settled in that city over the previous two decades.[4] There he worked with fellow American expatriates, including Kenny Drew, Ernie Wilkins, Thad Jones, as well as leading Danish jazz musicians such as Svend Asmussen, Mads Vinding, Alex Riel and Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen. He also played with a variety of other leading musicians of the time, such as Clark Terry, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, Milt Jackson and Monty Alexander.

Thigpen died peacefully after a brief period in Hvidovre Hospital in Copenhagen on January 13, 2010.[1] He had been hospitalized for heart and lung problems and was also suffering from Parkinson's disease. He is buried at Vestre Kirkegård.

Awards and recognition[edit]

Thigpen was inducted into the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame in 2002.[5]


As leader[edit]

Stunt Records
  • 1990: Easy Flight
  • 1998: It's Entertainment
  • 2002: Element of Swing
  • 2004: #1

As sideman[edit]

With Gene Ammons

With Toshiko Akiyoshi

With Dorothy Ashby

With Kenny Burrell

With Benny Carter

With Kenny Drew

With Art Farmer

With Dexter Gordon

With Johnny Griffin

With Jutta Hipp

With Duke Jordan

With Mundell Lowe

With Howard McGhee and Teddy Edwards

With Gil Mellé

With Oscar Pettiford

With Oscar Peterson

With Paul Quinichette

With Teddy Charles

With Tony Ortega

  • Jazz for Young Moderns (1958, 1959; Bethlehem)

With Frank Minion

  • The Soft Land of Make Believe (1959; Bethlehem)

With Teddy EdwardsHoward McGhee Quintet

  • Howard McGhee/Teddy Edwards – Together Again! (Contemporary M 3588, S 7588; Fantasy OJC 424, OJCCD 424-2)

With Ella Fitzgerald:

With Horace Parlan

With Charlie Rouse and Paul Quinichette

With Billy Taylor

With Cal Tjader

  • The Prophet (Verve 1968)

With Paul Quinichette and Charlie Rouse

With Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson

With Frank Wess

With Webster Young

With Svend Asmussen

  • As Time Goes By (1978; Sonet Records)

With Jack van Poll:

  • Cat's Groove (1988; September Records)

With Oliver Jones:

With John Lindberg, Albert Mangelsdorff & Eric Watson:

With Eric Watson and Mark Dresser:

  • Silent Hearts (2001; Sunnyside Records)

With Ernie Wilkins on the Everest label:

  • Everest Years (CD; 1959, 1960; 2005; VI Music)

With Kai Winding and Curtis Fuller

With Kresten Osgood


  1. ^ a b Heckman, Don (January 15, 2010). "Ed Thigpen dies at 79; jazz drummer". Los Angeles Times.
  2. ^ Werner, Jesse (February 10, 2010). "Jazz drummer Ed Thigpen dies at 79". World Socialist Web Site. International Committee of the Fourth International.
  3. ^ Keepnews, Peter (January 26, 2010). "Ed Thigpen, Jazz Drummer, Dies at 79". The New York Times. p. B17.
  4. ^ Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 2475. ISBN 0-85112-939-0.
  5. ^ Mattingly, Rick. "PAS Hall of Fame: Ed Thigpen". Percussive Arts Society. Retrieved March 1, 2014.
  6. ^ "Allmusic: The Toshiko Trio (1956)". AllMusic. Retrieved September 30, 2019.

External links[edit]