Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Eli "Lucky" Thompson

Eli "Lucky" Thompson (1924 –2005) was an American jazz tenor and soprano saxophonist. While John Coltrane usually receives the most credit for bringing the soprano saxophone out of obsolescence in the early 1960s, Thompson (along with Steve Lacy) embraced the instrument earlier than Coltrane.
Thompson was born in Columbia, South Carolina, and moved to Detroit, Michigan, during his childhood. Thompson had to raise his siblings after his mother died, and he practiced saxophone fingerings on a broom handle before acquiring his first instrument. He joined Erskine Hawkins' band in 1942 upon graduating from high school.
After playing with the swing orchestras of Lionel Hampton, Don Redman, Billy Eckstine (alongside Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker) and Count Basie, he worked in rhythm and blues and then established a career in bebop and hard bop, working with Kenny Clarke, Miles Davis, Gillespie and Milt Jackson.
Thompson was strongly critical of the music business, later describing promoters, music producers and record companies as "parasites" or "vultures". This, in part, led him to move to Paris, where he lived and made several recordings between 1957 and 1962. During this time, he began playing soprano saxophone.
In his last years he lived in Seattle, Washington. Acquaintances reported that Thompson was homeless by the early 1990s, and lived as a hermit.
Thompson died from Alzheimer's disease in an assisted living facility on July 30, 2005.
Thanks, Dennis.

1 comment:

  1. Very sad to know he lived a homeless life at the end. Very similar to many of the great country blues players.