Ben Thigpen

Ben Thigpen (November 16, 1908 – October 5, 1971) was an American jazz drummer. He is the father of drummer Ed Thigpen.

He was born Benjamin F. Thigpen in Laurel, Mississippi. Ben Thigpen played piano as a child, having been trained by his sister Eva. He played in South Bend, Indiana with Bobby Boswell in the 1920s, and then moved to Chicago to study under Jimmy Bertrand. While there he played with many noted Chicago bandleaders and performers, including Doc Cheatham. He played with Charlie Elgar's Creole Band during 1927-1929 but did not record with them. Following this he spent time in Cleveland with J. Frank Terry, and then became the drummer for Andy Kirk's Clouds of Joy, where he stayed from 1930 to 1947. Much of his work is available on collections highlighting the piano work of Mary Lou Williams, who also played in this ensemble.

After his time with Kirk, Thigpen's career is poorly documented. He led his own quintet in St. Louis and recorded with Singleton Palmer in the 1960s.

Birth and Death Data: Born November 16th, 1908 (Laurel), Died St. Louis

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1936 - 1946

Roles Represented in DAHR: drums, vocalist

Recordings (Results 1-25 of 143 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Decca 60852 10-in. 3/2/1936 Walkin' and swingin'-1 Andy Kirk and his Twelve Clouds of Joy instrumentalist, drums  
Decca 60853 10-in. 3/2/1936 Moten swing Andy Kirk and his Twelve Clouds of Joy instrumentalist, drums  
Decca 60854 10-in. 3/2/1936 Lotta sax appeal Andy Kirk and his Twelve Clouds of Joy instrumentalist, drums  
Decca 60861 10-in. 3/3/1936 Git Andy Kirk and his Twelve Clouds of Joy instrumentalist, drums, vocalist  
Decca 60862 10-in. 3/3/1936 All the jive is gone Andy Kirk and his Twelve Clouds of Joy instrumentalist, drums  
Decca 60865 10-in. 3/4/1936 Froggy bottom Andy Kirk and his Twelve Clouds of Joy instrumentalist, drums, vocalist  
Decca 60866 10-in. 3/4/1936 Bearcat shuffle Andy Kirk and his Twelve Clouds of Joy instrumentalist, drums  
Decca 60867 10-in. 3/4/1936 Steppin' pretty Andy Kirk and his Twelve Clouds of Joy instrumentalist, drums  
Decca 60874 10-in. 3/7/1936 Christopher Columbus Andy Kirk and his Twelve Clouds of Joy instrumentalist, drums  
Decca 60876 10-in. 3/7/1936 Corky-1 Andy Kirk and his Twelve Clouds of Joy instrumentalist, drums  
Decca 60877 10-in. 3/7/1936 Corny rhythm Mary Lou Williams instrumentalist, drums  
Decca 60878 10-in. 3/7/1936 Overhand (New Froggy Bottom) Mary Lou Williams instrumentalist, drums  
Decca 60879 10-in. 3/7/1936 Isabelle Mary Lou Williams instrumentalist, drums  
Decca 60886 10-in. 3/11/1936 I'se a-muggin' Andy Kirk and his Twelve Clouds of Joy instrumentalist, drums  
Decca 60887 10-in. 3/11/1936 Until the real thing comes along Andy Kirk and his Twelve Clouds of Joy instrumentalist, drums  
Decca 60894 10-in. 3/11/1936 Swingin' for joy Mary Lou Williams instrumentalist, drums  
Decca 60895 10-in. 3/11/1936 Clean pickin' Mary Lou Williams instrumentalist, drums  
Decca 60961 10-in. 3/31/1936 Puddin' head serenade Andy Kirk and his Twelve Clouds of Joy instrumentalist, drums  
Decca 60972 10-in. 4/2/1936 Until the real thing comes along Andy Kirk and his Twelve Clouds of Joy instrumentalist, drums  
Decca 60973 10-in. 4/3/1936 Blue illusion Andy Kirk and his Twelve Clouds of Joy instrumentalist, drums  
Decca 60974 10-in. 4/3/1936 Cloudy Andy Kirk and his Twelve Clouds of Joy instrumentalist, drums  
Decca 61003 10-in. 4/7/1936 Give her a pint (and she'll tell it all) Andy Kirk and his Twelve Clouds of Joy instrumentalist, drums  
Decca 61023 10-in. 4/9/1936 Mary's special Mary Lou Williams instrumentalist, drums  
Decca 61463 10-in. 12/9/1936 Fifty-Second Street Andy Kirk and his Twelve Clouds of Joy instrumentalist, drums  
Decca 61464 10-in. 12/9/1936 The lady who swings the band Andy Kirk and his Twelve Clouds of Joy instrumentalist, drums  
(Results 1-25 of 143 records)

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Thigpen, Ben," accessed October 28, 2020, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/210119.

Thigpen, Ben. (2020). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved October 28, 2020, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/210119.

"Thigpen, Ben." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2020. Web. 28 October 2020.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

URI: https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/210119

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