Sunday November 16th, 2003
New CD's this past week:
- Ronald Isley – Here I am
- Dave Hollister – Real talk
Music news stories this week:
Chic/Power Station Drummer Tony Thompson Dead
Tony Thompson, the drummer who powered hits by the Power Station, Chic,
and Diana Ross, and who almost joined Led Zeppelin, died in Encino,
California, on Wednesday (November 12), just three days shy of his 49th
birthday. Thompson had battled renal cell cancer and had undergone surgery
earlier this year in an effort to combat the disease. He is survived by
his wife Patrice and their two children.
Like many musicians, Thompson died without health insurance, and his
family is stuck with huge medical bills. Anyone wishing to make a
tax-deductible donation can do so at tonythompsonfund.com, or at
A benefit concert will be held on December 16 at the Hard Rock Cafe in Los
Angeles. The lineup should be announced soon.
Thompson was born in New York City on November 15, 1954. He first got
noticed while playing with LaBelle in the mid-70's, but it was with Chic
that Thompson had his first major success, including Top Five albums and a
Number One hit with "Le Freak" in 1978. Chic leader Nile Rodgers said that
he and Bernard Edwards formed the band with Thompson for three main
reasons: "His power--gotta be the loudest drummer I've ever worked with or
heard in my life; his technical facility, which has gotta be up there with
among the best of 'em; and his great sense of humor. I think that Bernard
and I hired him for all three of those qualities."
Following his success with Chic, Thompson developed a reputation as an ace
session drummer. He got the call to work with Diana Ross on 1980's Diana,
David Bowie on 1983's Let's Dance, Madonna on 1984's Like A Virgin, and
Mick Jagger on 1985's She's The Boss, among many others.
He also joined Robert Palmer and Duran Duran's John and Andy Taylor in
forming the Power Station, which had Top 10 hits in 1985 with "Some Like
It Hot" and a cover of T. Rex's "Get It On (Bang A Gong)." Several years
ago, Thompson said how he got involved in the Power Station. "We met in
the bathroom in Sydney, Australia," Thompson said. "John Taylor came over
and said he was a fan of my work, and we just said, 'Let's work together,
you know, let's do something.' And I thought, you know, once I left
Australia, and he went off to Europe, that I'd never hear from him again.
Well, I went to the south of France, and I got this phone call, and John
drove down and said, 'Yeah, I'm really still interested in this doing
Thompson got the call of a lifetime when he was asked to play with Led
Zeppelin at Live Aid in 1985. Following that one-off gig, they started
recording some new material, but the sessions ended after Thompson was in
a serious car accident, and the music has never been released.
Other people Thompson played with included Palmer on 1985's Riptide, Rod
Stewart on 1988's Out of Order, Blondie leader Debbie Harry on her 1981
solo album Kookoo, and Duran Duran on 1995's Thank You.
Will Downing: Creating Babt Booms One Album At A Time?
Vocalist Will Downing may have named his 2002 CD Sensual Journey, but he
guarantees that fans will find that current CD, Emotions, is a sensual
experience as well. The sexy new set remains at Number Two on the
Billboard Top Contemporary Jazz Albums chart, charming fans with its
collection of midnight-hour arrangements featuring Downing's irresistible
baritone. As with Sensual Journey, Downing had promised fans ahead of the
new set's release that there would be some tracks that could set off a
baby boom nine months after listening.
Downing laughs when reminded of his baby boom statement, and when asked to
single out tracks from Emotions that might truly get the love fires
burning, he picked his update of "Hey There Lonely Girl" and the original
tune "Falling In Love," which he co-wrote with a team that includes
keyboardist Rex Rideout.
Downing said: "I don't think I've ever released an album that didn't have
a track on there that would create (laughs) you know, some sort of mass
hysteria and for the population to escalate nine months after you made
that statement. For this album I believe it would be, well, two songs.
'Hey There Lonely Girl,' the Eddie Holman remake, and another song might
be 'Falling In Love.'"
Impromp2 Keeps Up It’s Visual With TV, Video, Charity Activities
R&B, jazz, and hip-hop duo Impromp2 has been busy of late. The group's
latest CD, The Definition Of Love, is one of the projects named on the
Recording Academy's preliminary list for Grammy ballot consideration in
the Best Urban Alternative Album category this year.
Meanwhile, the group's Sean E. Mac and Johnny B. participated in VH1's
Save The Music Foundation program, held Monday, November 10th, at the
Compton Middle School in Compton, California. The foundation donated
$50,000 to the school for musical instruments.
Impromp2 will be featured along with Kim Fields, also known as
Blondielocks, who provided the spoken word segment for the duo's hit
"Mocha Soul," on TV's Live In Hollywood show, set to air Saturday,
November 15th. Check local listings for times.
Actress and poet Fields also directed the video clip for the group's
"Mocha Soul" track. Trumpet player and songwriter Johnny B. says that many
of the tunes on Imprompt2's The Definition Of Love album have extremely
visual lyrics, which would easily lend themselves to video treatments.
Johnny B. told LAUNCH: ["I think the lyrics are very visual, it's kind of
like I think a video director could very easily make a video off an
Imprompt2 song, because it's very visual. A lot of imagination goes into
it, so it's good."]
Bebe Winans' New Christmas CD Features Rob Thomas Duet
Inspirational vocalist BeBe Winans has a treat for fans this holiday
season. The Grammy-winning singer is set to release the album My Christmas
Prayer, a 15-song collection of holiday favorites that is due November
18th. The set will be Winans' first release through his new label The
Movement Group (TMG), part of the Hidden Beach Celebrations Series.
The title track of My Christmas Prayer features Winans in a duet with pop
singer Rob Thomas of the group Matchbox 20. This is only the second time
Thomas has appeared on another artist's project after he guested on Carlos
Santana's 1999 smash "Smooth."
In addition, the package for the new CD is designed as a special greeting
card. Lyrics are printed on the inside jacket and consumers can fill in
their own holiday messages and send to family and friends. Winans said,
"Working with Rob was amazing, he totally embraced the message of 'My
Christmas Prayer' and his vocals are incredible."
Winans unveiled his new TMG label, which pacted with Hidden Beach's Still
Waters division for marketing services, earlier this year. The former half
of the BeBe & CeCe gospel duo will release a new solo set, titled Dream,
in early 2004.