Smokestack Lightnin' Home Page -- The Blues Profile Page
Not many living blues musicians can say they have performed with and recorded for legends like Big Mama Thornton, Tina Turner, Bruce Willis, Luther Tucker, Jimmy McCracklin, Pee Wee Crayton, Carla Thomas, Booker T. Jones, Percy Mayfield, Etta James, B.B. King, and Jimmy Reed. Ron Thompson can, and that’s just the beginning!
Ron Thompson is a legendary rhythm and blues guitarist and master keyboardist whose career began in the rough and tumble world of East San Francisco Bay nightclubs and bars in the early ‘70s. During many years of touring coast to coast with John Lee Hooker, Hooker was quoted as saying, "Ron Thompson, he's my main man!"
After serving as John Lee Hooker’s bandleader for seven years, Thompson went on to form his own group, Ron Thompson and His Resisters, which continues to tour extensively in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Central America.
In the early 80’s, Ron met Mick Fleetwood (Fleetwood Mac) and the two became musical partners and close friends. Ron and Mick formed the band, Mick Fleetwood’s Blue Whale. Blue Whale still occasionally performs, when Ron and Mick's busy schedules permit.
Ron Thompson was honored by the City of San Francisco for his decades of musical contributions. A few days after Barry Bonds got "his day" in The City for breaking the all-time American baseball home run record, San Francisco celebrated its own musical home run king, Ron Thompson. By official proclamation of Mayor Gavin Newsom, September 5, 2007, was declared "Ron Thompson Day in San Francisco."
The City of Fremont followed suit in 2009, and officially declared April 25, 2009, as “Ron Thompson Day in Fremont.” Ron's hometown of Newark, California, will be providing its own recognition to Ron on September 19, 2009, when Ron will preside as Grand Marshal at the 54th Annual Newark Days Parade.
Tom Mazzolini, founder and producer of the San Francisco Blues Festival, the longest running blues festival in the United States, said, “I’ve always felt Ron is the most talented blues guitarist I’ve ever seen. He can do it all. He’s extraordinarily gifted. What many folks aren’t aware of is that Ron was a huge asset in the re-emergence of John Lee Hooker. He was the foundation for that boogie sound.”
Thompson tours and performs year round. Recent shows have included a summer tour with Chris Isaak; shows with Bruce Willis; two stints on the Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise with such musical VIPs as Taj Mahal and Elvin Bishop; and many more.
In the intervening years since he was Hooker's "Main Man," Thompson's musical career has steadily soared, and he picked up a Grammy nomination and many other awards and accolades. He was recently inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame, and participated in this year's San Francisco Jazz Festival, where he performed and taught the Discover Jazz “Blues Guitar” lecture.
Thompson headlined the 40th Anniversary of the Summer of Love Concert in Golden Gate Park in 2007, sharing the bill with legends such as Jefferson Starship, Canned Heat, Jesse Colin Young, and many others. A two hour documentary of the concert, which began with Thompson's sizzling performance, was aired in the San Francisco Bay Area, and will soon be nationally syndicated.
Andy Grigg, music critic for Real Blues magazine, wrote: “If you haven’t experienced Ron T. ‘live’ I can’t even begin to convey the absolute go-for-broke Blues rave-ups and sweat-soaked pandemonium Thompson and his Resistors dispense on a nightly basis. When it comes to slide guitar workouts, I would say he's the Best in the World, and yet the man sings his ass off too.”
In addition to his Grammy nomination for his album Resistor Twister, Thompson has received countless awards and accolades, including Real Blues magazine’s Best Live West Coast Blues Act, Best West Coast Blues Slide Guitarist, and Best West Coast Blues Guitarist/Modern.
Thompson’s extensive discography includes five of his own albums, much studio work, and several European anthologies. Not only has he shared the stage with numerous blues luminaries, Thompson has performed or recorded with such musical greats as Fleetwood Mac, Chris Isaak, Carlos Santana, Bonnie Raitt, Tina Turner, Elvin Bishop, Bill Medley, Huey Lewis, Dr. John, songwriter Bobby Womak, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Robert Cray Band, Z.Z. Top, and legions of others artists.
Shortly after recording with Chris Isaak on the album San Francisco Days and touring with Isaak to promote the album, Thompson was called on stage. Isaak introduced him, telling the audience, "You might think these crowd barriers are here to keep you away from the stage. They're not. They're here to keep Ron Thompson away from you!”
Steve Cropper, one of the founding members of both Booker T. and the MG's and The Mar-Keys, (and who has also written songs with Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, Eddie Floyd, and dozens of others) once said of Ron, “What this guy knows, you can’t get out of a book.”
Thompson’s latest all-solo and first completely acoustic CD, Resonator, was released in 2007. Ron recorded on guitar, mandolin, piano, and vocals—and then mixed it all together for an unbelievable, quadruple threat, all-Ron Thompson recording. Most of the material is comprised of original Ron Thompson compositions.
Thompson is busy in the studio, recording what he thinks may be his finest work to date. Look for it later this year!