Danny Thompson

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Danny Thompson
Danny Thompson.JPG
Thompson backing Martin Simpson in 2008
Folk by the Oak Festival
Photo: David Laws
Background information
Birth name Daniel Henry Edward Thompson
Born (1939-04-04) 4 April 1939 (age 83)
Teignmouth, Devon, England
Genres Folk, rock, jazz, blues, skiffle
Occupation(s) Musician, songwriter, record producer
Instruments Upright bass, guitar, mandolin, trumpet, trombone, tea chest bass
Labels Island Records
Associated acts Pentangle, Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated,
Website Danny Thompson.co.uk
Notable instruments
"Victoria", a double bass built in 1865

Daniel Henry Edward 'Danny' Thompson (born 4 April 1939) is an English multi-instrumentalist best known as a double bassist and businessman. He has had a long musical career playing with a large variety of other musicians, particularly Richard Thompson (no relation) and John Martyn, but including many others: at various times he has for example played with Nick Drake, Roy Orbison, Julie Felix, Freddie and the Dreamers, Tubby Hayes, Ronnie Scott, Tom Paxton, Donovan, John McLaughlin, Vivian Stanshall, David Sylvian, Kate Bush, Linda Lewis, Mary Hopkin, Loreena McKennitt, Tim Buckley, and Davey Graham. For four years (1964-1967), he was a member of Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated, and he was a founding member of the British folk-jazz band Pentangle. Since 1987, he has also recorded four solo albums. He converted to Islam in 1990.[1]

Biography and career

Thompson was born in Teignmouth, Devon. His father, a miner, joined the Royal Navy at the start of World War II and was lost in action whilst crewing submarines. When Thompson was aged 6, the family moved to London and he was brought up in the working-class area of Battersea. At school he excelled at football and played as a junior for Chelsea, the team he has supported ever since. Whilst at school he learnt guitar, mandolin, trumpet and trombone before settling on the upright bass as his instrument of choice.

While he has his own album releases Thompson is predominantly a session musician contributing to other artists, such as with Richard Thompson e.g. Mirror Blue, The Old Kit Bag, and the concert DVD release Richard Thompson Live in Austin Texas, from the Austin City Limits televised concerts.

Danny Thompson lived in Clopton, Suffolk during the late 1970s and early 80s with his wife Daphne and son Dan (Danny Junior who went on to be the drummer with Hawkwind (1985–88)) Early in the 1980s he moved back to London. He received a Lifetime achievement award in the 2007 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.

In the early part of the 1980s he worked closely with documentary film-maker, Roy Deverell and composed music for two of his award-winning films, Echo of the Wild and A Passion to Protect. The films are about John Aspinall's pioneering work with endangered mammals.


Danny Thompson's initial experience of bass playing was with a skiffle group, with whom he played a tea chest bass (a bass he built himself out of a tea chest, which folded up so he could carry it). In the early 1960s he bought a second-hand double bass from an old man in Battersea who let him have the instrument for £5 (despite the fact that it was worth much more than that), on the basis of his enthusiasm to play it. He christened the instrument "Victoria" and it has remained his instrument of choice ever since. The bass was built by Gand, a French luthier, in 1865.

Victoria has been Thompson's sole instrument for the majority of his career, aside from three tours playing bass guitar for Roy Orbison in 1963.[2] In response to increasingly stringent airline luggage regulations, Danny acquired a Czech-Ease travel bass in early 2007. Victoria is now used for all his work in the UK, with the new bass, named "Alfie", used for all international engagements.[2]

Partial discography

Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated

  • Red Hot from Alex (1964)
  • Sky High (1966)
  • Blues Incorporated (1967 - re-issue of Sky High)

Alexis Korner

  • I Wonder Who (1967)
  • A New Generation of Blues (1968)


Danny Thompson

  • Whatever (1987)
  • Whatever Next (1989)
  • Elemental (1990)
  • Whatever’s Best (1995)
  • Danny Thompson & Peter Knight (1995)

Richard Thompson and Danny Thompson

Jon Thorne & Danny Thompson

  • Watching the Well (2010)


Danny Thompson has played on dozens of albums and singles during his career. The following is only a small selection.


  1. [1] "In 1999 Danny was interviewed for the BBC TV series Faces of Islam in which he discussed becoming a Muslim and his realisation of the fact that whilst he had only converted to Islam in 1990, the Muslim faith had always been within him."
  2. 2.0 2.1 The Real Danny Thompson

External links