Pete Thomas (drummer)

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Pete Thomas
Background information
Birth namePeter Michael Thomas
Born (1954-08-09) 9 August 1954 (age 69)
OriginHillsborough, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England
GenresPunk rock, new wave, ska
Years active1971–present
LabelsStiff, Radar, F-Beat, Demon, Columbia, Warner Bros., Mercury, Island, Lost Highway, Verve, HearMusic, Rykodisc, Rhino, Hip-O

Peter Michael Thomas (born 9 August 1954) is an English rock drummer best known for his collaboration with singer Elvis Costello, both as a member of his band the Attractions and with Costello as a solo artist. Besides his lengthy career as a studio musician and touring drummer, he has been a member of the band Squeeze during the 1990s and a member of the supergroup Works Progress Administration during the early 2000s.

Tom Waits has referred to him as "one of the best rock drummers alive."[1]


Thomas states that his favourite album and greatest influence is Are You Experienced by The Jimi Hendrix Experience. He first heard the album at the age of 14, and became greatly influenced by Jimi Hendrix Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell. Thomas met his drumming hero as a teenager, after waiting outside Mitchell's house for multiple days.[2]

Following early work with Chilli Willi and the Red Hot Peppers and John Stewart, Thomas was recruited as a member of Costello's backing band the Attractions in 1977. Elvis Costello & the Attractions would spend the next decade touring the world, and recording nine albums,[3] from This Year's Model (1978) to Blood and Chocolate (1986).

Although Costello split with the Attractions between 1987 and 1993, he continued to work regularly with Thomas during this period. Thomas played drums on the albums Spike (1989), Mighty Like a Rose (1991), and Kojak Variety (recorded in 1990 but not released until 1995) and was a member of Costello's 1989–1991 touring band, The Rude 5.

Costello reunited with the Attractions for the albums Brutal Youth (1994) and All This Useless Beauty (1996).

In 2001, Costello recruited Thomas, Faragher, and fellow Attraction Steve Nieve to record the album that became When I Was Cruel (2002). Elvis Costello & the Imposters, as they were subsequently named, have gone on to tour extensively, and recorded the album The Delivery Man (2004). From 2008 until 2010, Thomas was a member of the house band for Costello's television program Spectacle: Elvis Costello with...

Thomas lives in Los Angeles, with his wife Judy. Their daughter Tennessee is drummer for the band the Like. In 2003, Thomas was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Elvis Costello & the Attractions.[4]

In summer 2015, Thomas hit the road as drummer for the summer tour of the folk-pop duo the Weepies.

Studio work[edit]

Over the years Thomas has been an in-demand session musician. His many credits include drums for Graham Parker's 1991 album Struck by Lightning and 1992 album Burning Questions.

After Costello split with the Attractions for a second time, Thomas worked for the next few years primarily as a session drummer, recording with such artists as Suzanne Vega,[3] Neil Finn, Richard Thompson, Vonda Shepard, Mikel Erentxun, Sheryl Crow,[5] Fito Páez, Joaquín Sabina, Los Lobos,[5] Wild Colonials, Matt Brown of 3 lb. Thrill, Wendy James,[3] Tasmin Archer and John Paul Jones.[5]

In 1993, Thomas joined the band Squeeze for their album Some Fantastic Place, replacing Gilson Lavis on drums, and for the tour in support of it.

In 1994, Thomas was part of a trio that included vocalist/avant garde opera diva Diamanda Galás and former Led Zeppelin bassist/multi-instrumentalist John Paul Jones, who recorded the album The Sporting Life.[3]

He also played on the Elliott Smith album Figure 8 (DreamWorks, 2000), on the songs "Junk Bond Trader", "Wouldn't Mama Be Proud?" and "Can't Make a Sound".[3]

Thomas currently plays local Los Angeles gigs with bassist Davey Faragher and guitarist Val McCallum, under the band name Jackshit.

In 2006, Thomas played drums on the album Doomed to Make Choices by Jason Karaban. He also plays drums on Karaban's album Sobriety Kills (2009) and Karaban's single "Succeed 101" (2009).

In 2008, he joined a new eight-piece supergroup, Works Progress Administration, with Sean Watkins (guitar), his sister Sara Watkins (fiddle), Glen Phillips (guitar, vocals), Benmont Tench (piano), Luke Bulla (fiddle), Greg Leisz (various), and Davey Faragher (bass). The group released their debut album on 28 August 2009. Thomas played on Willy DeVille's Pistola album in 2008.

In June 2008, Thomas recorded for a Kina Grannis album. In 2009 Thomas recorded for a Fito & Fitipaldis album titled Antes de que Cuente Diez.

In 2012, Thomas was the drummer on two national tours by artist Tammy Lang:[6] the "Chelsea Madchen" tour, in which the singer parodied Nico, of Velvet Underground fame, and her outing as subversive traditional country-and-western alter ego Tammy Faye Starlite. Violinist Lisa Germano also played on both tours, as did bandleader/guitarist Peter "Petey" Andrews. The band "played some of the best blues rock music I've heard in years," wrote Huffington Post music correspondent Wendy Block.[7]

In 2013, Thomas appeared on Arctic Monkeys' album, AM, on the song "Mad Sounds".[3] The band described him as "saving the day" when their usual drummer Matt Helders broke his hand after punching a wall while drunk during recording sessions for the album.

In October 2013, he appeared on Later... with Jools Holland as drummer for Jake Bugg.

In 2014, Thomas played drums and percussion on most tracks of Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone for Lucinda Williams.

In 2015, Thomas played drums and percussion on award-winning Canadian singer-songwriter Leeroy Stagger's critically acclaimed album Love Versus.

In 2019 Thomas co-founded the Los Angeles-based Old Man Dinner Band with Harvey Shield.


With Tasmin Archer

With Tracy Bonham

With Jackson Browne

With Jonatha Brooke

  • Steady Pull (Bad Dog Records, 2001)

With Johnny Cash

With Elvis Costello

With Sheryl Crow

With Willy DeVille

With Kat Edmonson

  • The Big Picture (Sony, 2014)

With Neil Finn

With Jeffrey Gaines

  • Alright (Omnivore Recordings, 2018)

With John Wesley Harding

With Susanna Hoffs

With Rickie Lee Jones

With Juanes

  • Origen (Universal Music, 2021)

With Amos Lee

With Nick Lowe

With Billie Myers

With Randy Newman

With Daniel Powter

With Bonnie Raitt

With Ron Sexsmith

With Vonda Shepard

  • By 7:30 (Jacket Records, 1999)
  • Chinatown (Edel Records, 2002)

With Michelle Shocked

  • Mexican Standoff (Mighty Sound Records, 2005)

With Nancy Sinatra

With Josh Smith

  • Burn to Grow (Vizztone, 2018)

With Matthew Sweet

With Richard Thompson

With Teddy Thompson

With Rufus Wainwright

With Dan Wilson

With Rita Wilson

  • Rita Wilson (Sing It Out Records, 2016)


  1. ^ Waits, Tom (20 March 2005). "It's perfect madness". The Guardian. London.
  2. ^ Thomas, Pete (1 May 2014). "#008: Pete Thomas on The Jimi Hendrix Experience's "Are You Experienced?" (Part 1)". My Favourite Album Podcast. Archived from the original on 27 January 2015. Retrieved 12 November 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Burke, Chris (6 March 2015). "Classic albums featuring Pete Thomas". Retrieved 21 March 2020.
  4. ^ "Inductees by Year (2003)". Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Retrieved 22 January 2011.
  5. ^ a b c "Pete Thomas: From Elvis Costello to Johnny Cash - DRUM! Magazine - Play Better Faster". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 11 February 2016.
  6. ^ "Tammy Lang". IMDb.
  7. ^ Block, Wendy (24 February 2012). "Channeling Nico in Silverlake". HuffPost.

External links[edit]