Billy Thompson's music bristles with the infectious, syncopated sounds of New Orleans, the electricity of great rock n roll, the punchy verve of Memphis soul and the heartfelt power of blues, funk and jazz. --George Varga, music critic San Diego Tribune
Born: Fayetteville, NC
Home: Berkeley Springs, WV
Billy, having grown up as an army brat, has lived all over the U.S including Fort Benning, GA, Lake Charles, LA, Albuquerque, NM, Yuma, AZ, San Deigo, CA and Virginia Beach, VA. He started playing music in his late teens and developed his early musical stylings through his San Diego based bands such as, Johnnie Cook, The Fingers and The Mighty Penguins.
The crafting of his blueswork was heavily influenced by his touring and time spent with Larry "Arkansas" Davis, who stated, "Bill, you writin' the blues of the future."
Vintage Blues magazine has said of Billy, "He sings with no boundaries and literally picks his ass off."
Major Influences: Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Professor Longhair, The Meters, Sonny Landreth, Lowell George, Duane Allman, Buddy Guy, Albert King, BB King, John Hiatt, Danny Gatton, Albert Lee... and many more
Has Performed Live With:
Little Milton, Albert King, Art Neville, Earl King, Larry "Arkansas" Davis, Elvin Bishop, Chuck Berry, Sir Harry Bowens,Billy Branch, Leslie Uggams, Marva Hicks, Ivan Neville, Mark Campbell, Daryl Johnson, Gary Puckett
Has Opened for:
B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Bobby "Blue" Bland, Boz Scaggs, The Neville Brothers, Dickey Betts, Joe Cocker, Sonny Landreth, Robert Cray, Taj Mahal, John Hammond Jr., Bobby Womack, Robben Ford, Junior Walker and the Allstars, Lee Roy Parnell, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Albert Lee, Joe Louis Walker, Cocoa Montoya, War, Jimmie Vaughan, Gallactic, Anson Funderburg, Debbie Davies, Kenny Neal, Robert Walter's 20th Congress, Lucky Peterson, Angela Strehli, Janiva Magness, Ronnie Baker Brooks and more.
2009-European tour as featured guitarist with Queen Esther Marrow and the Harlem Gospel Singers
2004 - Guitarist / Songwriter / Musical Supervisor for the Keith Glover play entitled "The Rose of Corazon."
2002 - Lead guitarist for Tony Award winning playwright Keith Glover's critically acclaimed "Bluesical", "Thunder Knocking On The Door" featuring original music by Keb Mo and Anderson Edwards.
2001 - Lead guitarist for the Broadway musical "It Ain't Nothin' But The Blues" directed by Randal Mylar (Love Janis). Musical direction: Dan Wheatman. Associate musical direction: Jim Ehinger. Written by: Dan Wheatman, "Mississippi" Charles Bevel, and Ron Taylor.
Coat of many Colors - The Mighty Penguins 1994
Tangerine Sky - Billy Thompson 1998
Area 51 - Billy Thompson 2005
Remixed and Remastered- Billy Thompson - 2009
A Better Man - Billy Thompson- Papa Lee Records 2011
The fifth CD "A Better Man" was produced by Grammy Award winning producer Tony Braunagel. Braunagel, currently drummer for The Robert Cray Band, enlisted a strong lineup of former bandmates and friends to play on the CD.
Braunagel, who played drums on the project, describes Billy as "a funky mofo with a soulful vocal style and songs that draw you in."
Musicians on the CD include some of the industry's most experienced, including members of Little Feat, Taj Mahal, Bonnie Raitt, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Joe Cocker, and the Phantom Blues Band. In addition to Thompson on guitar and vocals and Braunagel on drums, Johnny Lee Schell adds guitar and sings background vocals and is joined by bassists Hutch Hutchinson and Kenny Gradney, keyboard player Mike Finnigan, percussionist Lenny Castro and trumpeter Darrell Leonard and saxophonist Joe Sublett from the Texicali Horns.
The lineup is rounded out by San Diego standout Michael Leroy Peed on piano and clavinet and background vocalist Niki Morrissette.
"A Better Man" official release date 1/ 11/ 2011 is receiving airplay nationally and in Europe.
Blues based, mostly original material. Rockin' and soulful, swampy and funky, with occasional vintage blues like Bobby Bland's Farther Up the Road, and "Rich Man's Woman" by Muddy Waters or New Orleans, second line standards like "Big Chief" and/or "Pocky Way," interspersed.
Art Neville of the Neville Brothers loves our quasi second line version of Van Morrison's "Into the Mystic" and John Hiatt's "The Crush" ...
We run the groove gamut, basically... keeping the music interesting for everyone!