The mainstream music press hasn’t paid much attention to this, but our sources inform us that composer, arranger and orchestra leader Bob Thompson passed away on May 21, aged 88.
Irwin Chusid reports: “I just spoke with Paula Thompson, who informed me that her husband Bob passed away in a nursing home on May 21. I can’t find any obits online. Bob had been in poor health for years, and except for avid Exotica enthusiasts, his work has been overlooked. But as a musician-arranger-conductor, he was a class act.”
Bob Thompson (born 1924, San Jose, California) was a composer, arranger, and orchestra leader from the 1950s through the 1980s. Active in Los Angeles, Thompson scored film and television soundtracks, and wrote commercial jingles. He is considered a prime exponent of what has belatedly been termed “Space age pop,” or “Space Age Bachelor Pad Music.” This style of breezy, experimental orchestral music became popular in the 1950s and 1960s following the introduction of the long-playing microgroove record and the advent of high-fidelity and stereo home audio systems, which allowed enhanced sonic reproduction.
Thompson composed, arranged, and conducted orchestra for such artists as Rosemary Clooney, Mae West, Julie London, Bing Crosby, The Andrews Sisters, Duane Eddy, Judy Garland, Jerry Lewis, Van Dyke Parks, and many others.
His classic RCA Victor albums, recorded in Los Angeles, featured many of the top session talent from the late 1950s west coast jazz scene, including drummer Shelly Manne, percussionist Emil Richards, alto saxophonist Bud Shank, trombonist Frank Rosolino, trumpeter Al Porcino, guitarist Al Hendrickson, and bassist Red Callender.