Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Farewell to an overlooked genius of American pop music

I woke today to the news of the death of a man who is quite possibly one of my favourite musicians of all time – Bob Thompson.  When I say today, the news I read was only posted yesterday (June 4) on and Mr Thompson passed away on the 21st of May.  I suppose I am not completely surprised that a mainstream music media more concerned with Beyoncé and Bieber didn’t even bother mentioning Thompson, his passing or the impact his music would go on to have on pop.  Yes, his recorded output is now well over 50 years old, but I suppose the irony of it all is if it wasn’t for trailblazing pioneers like Thompson those other B’s might not have the careers they enjoy today.  Hmmmm… sad that a website called Weirdo Music broke the news of someone’s death whose music was anything but….but then again at least they did!
I spend a lot of time at this station programming and highlighting music you won’t hear anywhere else, and Thompson would be a perfect example of this.  He was a composer, arranger and conductor for artists like Rosemary Clooney, Julie London, Bing Crosby, Duane Eddy, Judy Garland, Van Dyke Parks, amongst others.  He released 3 albums on RCA and one on Dot and they are without a doubt four of the most treasured albums I own.
Yes, his music is definitely of a certain bygone era; however if you truly are a music lover always looking to broaden your music horizons, or even a hipster that just can’t resist jumping on the latest bandwagon, please do some digging and discover Bob, or, if you’re in the know, re-discover his music.  This little essay will hardly do this ‘overlooked genius of American pop music’ any justice, but if you visit you can learn more about a personal musical hero of mine and the music he made.
I shed quite a few tears this morning that such a genius had passed with barely a mention, then I realised that I, sobbing in my cornflakes thousands of miles away, had not forgotten him; in fact at this very moment I am sat writing this to you, listening to Bob’s records, toes a tappin’ with a massive smile across my face .  Perhaps that’s exactly how a gentleman like Bob would like to be remembered – for the music he made and the smiles it still delivers.
~ Christopher Laird

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