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July 5th, 1937 - May 18th, 2005

Posted by bobbyt on Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Bobby Thompson passed away at home on May, 18, 2005. His BHO Home Page is being maintained by Bobby's wife, Judy, in his remembrance.

26 comments on “July 5th, 1937 - May 18th, 2005”

jbalch Says:
Thursday, May 28, 2009 @4:52:54 AM

Judy:

Thank-you for creating this tribute page.  You know that Bobby was very special to me.  I've said many times that he was my Hero...as a musician (of course)...but even more as a brave, caring and compassionate man. In spite of tremendous suffering, Bobby always had time and energy to be truly concerned for his friends.  I will always be inspred by his memory.

I also must mention how well you cared for him.  You shared his journey every step of the way.  You sacrificed personal comfort and well being in order to make his burden lighter.  He loved you tremendously...and watching the two you you together..it was obvious why he did.

I hope you are well..  Thanks again.

John Balch

 

 

 

BanjoDiva Says:
Thursday, May 28, 2009 @8:44:56 AM

Hi Judy.  Even though I never met Bobby, I've greatly appreciated his influence, and being able to absorb his presence here in Spartanburg.  You and I need to honor him by having a burger at the Beacon one of these days!

Ronnie Says:
Thursday, May 28, 2009 @9:00:46 AM

Thank you Judy!!  I will always cherish the time I spent with Bobby. We really miss him. Em and I will be checking in with you from time. to time.

Sorry to hear of the passing of your Dad.. He was another wonderful man

Love

Ronnie and Emily 

Just Bill Says:
Thursday, May 28, 2009 @10:06:12 AM

Thank you, Judy, for maintaining Bobby's page.  This is wonderful! 

As I write this, I am listening to Bobby's recording of "Classical Gas."  He was a wonderfully talented man and an inspiration to many of us!

Sincerely,

Bill Breen 

KE Says:
Thursday, May 28, 2009 @10:47:49 AM

It's sometimes said that you are what you leave behind when you leave. Bobby left many gifts. It's clear from the memories of those who knew him that Bobby was an outstanding person as well as a once-in-a-lifetime musician. Judy, I'm sure that your partnership and support must have contributed a lot to that legacy. Be proud of yourself and Bobby.

Chris Quinn Says:
Thursday, May 28, 2009 @7:56:09 PM

As a little boy, I recall wtching the banjo players on Hee-Haw and remarking to myself, "That lady, (Roni Stoneman) and that man who isn't smiling, (Bobby) are the best!"  I watched the two of them everytime and evnetually I was able to discern that Bobby was a genius.  When I learned that he had played the theme to Hee-Haw, he became a permanent reference point for me as to what great playing was.

Years later, I became aware of Bobby's work with Jim and Jesse.  My new appreciation for Bobby solidified his place in my musical life.

Two years ago, and thanks to Steve Latimer, I met Judy Thompson and was able to share my memories of Bobby's influence on me.  I had the priveledge of playing some banjo for Judy.  When Judy told me that she thought Bobby would have liked my playing, she had no idea what that meant to a dreamy little boy from the country in Canada.

Thank you Bobby, and thank you Judy.

Your friend,

 

Chris Quinn

Chris Quinn Says:
Thursday, May 28, 2009 @8:26:35 PM

As a little boy, I recall watching the banjo players on Hee-Haw and remarking to myself, "That lady, (Roni Stoneman), and that man who isn't smiling, (Bobby), are the best!   I watched the two of them every time they appeared.  Eventually, I was able to discern that Bobby was a genius.  When I learned that he had played the theme to Hee-Haw, he became a permanent reference point for me as to what great playing was.  Only later did I realize that this had been my introduction to melodic style banjo playing.

Years went by before I became aware of Bobby's work with Jim and Jesse.  My renewed appreciation for Bobby solidified his place in my musical life.

Two years ago, and thanks to Steve Latimer, I met Judy Thompson and was able to share my memories of Bobby's influence on me.  I had the privilege of playing some banjo for Judy.  When Judy told me that she thought Bobby would have liked my playing, she had no idea what that meant to a  little boy from the country in Canada.

Thank you Bobby, and thank you Judy.

Your friend; your fan,

 

Chris Quinn

 

PyrPups Says:
Thursday, May 28, 2009 @8:56:30 PM

Thank you Judy. Bobby's inspiration lives with me every day!

Kerry

SJL Says:
Thursday, May 28, 2009 @9:10:22 PM

Thanks for maintaining this page Judy. Chris it sure was great to be the fly on the wall when you were playing some of your Thompson inspired stuff for Judy.



flange5st Says:
Saturday, May 30, 2009 @6:53:19 PM

I believe the greatest thing that Bobby Thompson did for banjo picking was that, in his  melodic style, he never forgot the blues sound. It was all neatly wrapped in his choice of  hammer -ons and string bends. It proved that you could play these types of passages and instead of going 1.2.3.4.5.6.7, you could  go 1,2,3, and bend,( or hammer) the 4 note to the  5 of the scale or even up to 6 and  you could pluck one note and let your left hand handle the rest.  He proved that he was a master at his craft and that's somthing we should all aspire ,too.....peace

stanger Says:
Monday, June 1, 2009 @2:13:40 AM

In 1969 I walked off stage after playing a very hot set in a Norfolk, Va. coffeehouse. I was the King O' The Banjo for about 2 minutes, the time it took to go back to the warm-up room in the back of the club. A guitar player friend introduced me to a friend of his, Jphn Carlini, who asked if he could try out my banjo. It took only 10 seconds for him to totally destroy my little ego trip as he knocked out a few runs that sounded like nothing I had ever heard before. It was as if he had just dropped an ice cube down the back of my neck, and it made my hair stand on end. I said "Wow! Where did that come from?" and he just said.... "Bobby Thompson". Those 10 seconds took me on a completely new path I'm still following, 40 years later.

DHutchens Says:
Friday, June 5, 2009 @12:19:03 PM

Just a few rememberances, I first met Bobby in October 1966 when he had returned from Service and had rejoined Jim and Jesse.  He got the Baldwin banjo the next spring and I got one soon after.  Any time he was close I would always go to the show and we would talk banjos.

He played some mighty good stuff  but if you
listen to the live recording with Jim & Jesse he picked much harder in those days.  PA systems were what they were and most of the time they only used two mikes.

  He used to do things like Casey Jones, New Camptown Races, Sugar Foot Rag and would tear them up but no one paid any attention to those tunes at the time. 

I remember the first time at Sandy Ridge North Carolina with Jim and Jesse he played Sugar Foot Rag and me being a green kid I requested that he play Earls Breakdown on the 2nd set.  Years later I told him the story and he said that it happened every night.  He would work and work on these neat tunes and then someone would come up and ask for Foggy Mountain Breakdown or familar to them.
  After he got into the studio he had a very very stable rhythm section and allowed him the freedom to experiment.
He recorded some neat stuff I always liked the recording with Johnny Cash, "Any old wind that Blows" where he did some of the most stately deliberate tasteful banjo one could imagine.


Once in the early 80's I was down at Durham visiting a friend at Sugar Hill Records and ask Barry Poss who owned the label why didn't he do a Bobby Thompson banjo album.  He said "hey man I'd love to, but I don't know him"  I told him that I would make an introduction.

So I called Bobby later that week and ask him about if he would be interested and Bobby being Bobby said "man, no one even knows who I am anymore"  He was so laid back.
By this point the session work was taking its toll on him.  He once told me that he dreaded to get up each morning because he knew he had sessions after session booked all day long.  He was getting pretty burnt out but after talking
to him about 30 or 40 minutes he said "well I've got some things going on right now but after I get things settled I might would like to do it"
The Sugar Hill Label was in its infancy at the time but when I mentioned the name he said "ya, I got that Rice and Skaggs tape and thats good"  He said have Barry to call him and come by and see him the next time he was in
town (Nashville)  I called Barry and asked when he was going to Nashville again and he said he didn't have any plans to go there soon but after I told him what Bobby had said he flew to Nashville a day or two later.  He flew down had lunch with Bobby and flew back home the same day.
After he met with Bobby he had to go through the same routine of "no one even knows who I am" but after a while they decided that after he got things settled down  they would get back together on it. 

Sadly it never happened.


I used to call Bobby about the time I began working for Gibson and occasionally meet him at the Cracker Barrel for either lunch or supper. 

Once he asked if I could pick him up at Opryland  they were taping Hee Haw and I had a copy of a tape of him playing Little Rock Getaway in the tape player.  He got in the car I had it playing real low, he said turn that up.  He listened closely and about the time we got to Cracker Barrel it ended, He said "you know at one point I might could have played as good as that guy"  He didn't ask who it was and I never told him.

I sure miss you my friend.


Doug Hutchens

June 5, 2009

Banjoman Says:
Saturday, June 6, 2009 @8:43:15 AM

Wonderful post Mr. Hutchens...

pearcemusic Says:
Saturday, June 6, 2009 @12:24:32 PM

I never met him, and would have been completely intimidated and speechless if I had .... kinda the "I'm not worthy.." syndrome.

BUT ... I used to put my "realistic" cassette recorder in front of our TV on Saturday nights .... just to hope to catch some of Bobby's playing on tape, so I could TRY to learn a few of his licks. He didn't get NEAR enough "face time" on HeeHaw for my taste .... I could've listened to him play the whole hour long show.

He was SUCH an inspiration to me in those days .... his playing just spoke to me.

RatLer Says:
Tuesday, June 30, 2009 @9:00:14 AM

Like others have said, Judy, thanks for maintaining this page. I never got to meet Bobby, but I've enjoyed his music. To top it off, I understand he enjoyed muzzleloaders and the 18th century way of life. Banjos , muzzleloaders. and rendezvous, my favorite past-imes as well. I regret our paths never crossed.

1935tb-11 Says:
Saturday, November 21, 2009 @4:21:12 AM

the first memories i have of bobby were like most, on heehaw. even being a young guitar player at the time i could tell he was far ahead of the others who played banjo on that show. i would ask my dad
why don't they let the guy with the beard play out front some?
he said roy ain't gonna let nobody show him up on TV.
later own after i got into playing banjo, i figured out just what a genius he was on the banjo, and guitar for that fact too.
he set the bar so high for so many pickers its unreal and his timing and taste on tunes you would take for granted is astounding.
genius is taking the ordinary and making it extrodinary and that is waht bobby could do with any song he chose to play.
i never got meet him or tell him thank you for his contribution to this instrument we love.
thanks bobby.

judy take care







terry m
n.c.

strokestyle Says:
Saturday, November 21, 2009 @12:20:48 PM

Judy, Unfortunately I have never met you or Bobby. But I can tell you have both left a very clear wonderful footprint on many lives. I wish you all the best.

Poppy Says:
Saturday, November 21, 2009 @1:55:55 PM

Judy, Thank you for keeping his memory alive, his music will live forever.

ukuleleph Says:
Tuesday, February 16, 2010 @3:24:57 AM

As an Australian, I never neard of Hee Haw, or Area Code 615. But I once heard "Take 5" and couldn't believe my ears. So remember that Bobby has influenced some on the other side of your world. Thanks for this tribute page. Peter Hall

bobbyt Says:
Sunday, March 21, 2010 @12:04:50 AM

thank yall for all yall's great comments
about bobby. aside from being the
best banjo player, he was also the
best husband a woman could ever
have. after almost 5 years now, it
still just feels like 5 minutes. i'll try
to always keep his memory alive for
everyone.

yopasjim Says:
Saturday, April 16, 2011 @9:36:47 PM

Hi Judy,

It was when I would watch Hee Haw that I got that stir in my heart to play banjo. It was only recently I decided to give it a try. I have enjoyed watching some wonderful clips of Mr. Thompson. I am impressed all over again. I am sorry he has passed. His talent obviously lives on! Thank you!

Blake507 Says:
Monday, April 25, 2011 @1:15:11 PM

Thanks Judy, I was so taken by this active page and I wanted to be a part of it. Bobby's sound is so good and unique, it will live forever.
Blake507 aka,
Danny Brown

pstroud1 Says:
Monday, May 30, 2011 @1:40:02 PM

I never had the pleasure of meeting Bobby but sure enjoyed his picking on Hee-Haw.
Thanks Judy for keeping up this tribute to Bobby.
Paul

StrangBanger Says:
Monday, December 5, 2011 @4:46:17 PM

I watched the master pushed to the back on many occasions on Hee Haw, but it was apparent to me who the best was. Bobby was AMAZING, he was my hero, inspiration, and idol. I bought a single with Devil Dance and Foxfire on it. I wore it out learning the chromatic/melodic runs. He was a Banjo God, up there with the best, and now he is truly up there with the best.

Jack Baker Says:
Sunday, December 11, 2011 @6:02:10 AM

Hello Judy,
There will never be another Bobby T. He was "once in a lifetime" and will never be forgotten...my very best to you and family...Jack Baker NYC

Everett Cole Says:
Friday, February 22, 2013 @4:18:30 PM

Hi Judy - I think it was'79-80 at Buddy Spicher's ranch south of Nashville - it was a get together for musicians, Bobby,Spicher, Vic Jordan,etc - after 3 day's of workshop i decided i'd better keep my daytime job - but i did learn classical Gas----What a Treasure he was!

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