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Chester Thompson

Chester Thompson

American drummer
Chester Thompson
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American drummer
Is Musician Drummer Jazz musician Organist
From United States of America
Type Music
Gender male
Birth 11 December 1948, Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A.
Age 72 years
Chester Thompson
The details


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


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. 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. 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 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 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.

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 an album in 2013 entitled Approved. The other members of the group are keyboardist Joe Davidian and bassist Michael Rinne.


Thompson has endorsed Ludwig Drums (1970-March, 1977), Pearl Drums (April, 1977 - July, 1987), Sonor Drums (1990–1999) and Paiste cymbals (1970–90); he 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


  • 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

With Frank Zappa

  • 1974: Roxy & Elsewhere (Live recording 8-10.12.1973 & 8.5.1974)
  • 1974: You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 2 (Live in Helsinki, Finland 22–23.9.1974, released 1988)
  • 1975: One Size Fits All
  • 1975: Bongo Fury
  • 1979 (Recorded 1975): "Sleep Dirt"

With Weather Report

  • 1976: Black Market

With Air Pocket

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

With Genesis (live albums)

  • 1977: Seconds Out
  • 1982: Three Sides Live
  • 1992: The Way We Walk, Vol I: The Shorts
  • 1993: The Way We Walk, Vol II: The Longs
  • 2007: Live over Europe 2007

With Steve Hackett

  • 1978: Please Don't Touch
  • 1996: Watcher of the Skies: Genesis Revisited
  • 1998: The Tokyo Tapes (recorded live 16. & 17.12.1996, released 1998)

With Tony Banks

  • 1979: A Curious Feeling

With Ahmad Jamal

  • 1980: Night Song (Motown, 1980)

With Santana

  • 1985: Beyond Appearances

With Fire Merchants

  • 1989: Fire Merchants

With Phil Collins

  • 1990: Serious Hits... Live!
  • 2004: Finally... The First Farewell

With Chris Catena

  • 2004: Freak Out
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