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Pete Thomas
Pete Thomas
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Artist Biography

Everything you need to know in one spot.

  • Band/Affiliation: Elvis Costello
  • Country: United States

Pete Thomas started life in Hillsborough, Sheffield and formed his first band in Hartley, Kent at age ten. Having moved with his family to Seaford, Sussex Pete attended Lewes Priory School and the Sussex Music School. He played with several local bands, including the "Grobs", which built up a formidable reputation with one of the toughest audiences around -- the Newhaven Dockers.

Pete moved to London in 1972 and found a job selling and demonstrating in a West London drum shop. He played with various bands at deb's balls and similar gigs, but his big chance came when he joined Chilli Willi and the Red Hot Peppers, a pub band playing country rock which is still remembered with great affection.

While playing with the Willis at the Roundhouse in 1974, Pete stepped in at short notice to back John Stewart, a visiting West Coast singer/songwriter (once of the Kingston Trio, and composer of the standard "Daydream Believer". So impressed was Stewart with Pete's performance and imposing 6'5" stature that he offered him a job in California, and when Chilli Willi collapsed from sheer exhaustion a few weeks later Pete gratefully accepted the offer.

Pete enjoyed the laid-back 70's Californian lifestyle, but also gained a huge range of experience and many valuable contacts.

One day in 1977 Pete got a call from Jake Riviera who (As Andrew Jakeman) had managed Chilli Willi. Jake, the co-founder of Stiff Records had just discovered Elvis Costello, and was putting together a new band to back him. Confident in Jake's judgement and integrity Pete agreed to return to London, and so The Attractions were formed.

Elvis Costello And The Attractions created a sensation in the Punk and Post-Punk eras. Repeated chart success and an arduous schedule of world tours meant that the band outgrew Stiff, and was contracted to various other record companies. In the changing musical climate of the 80's Costello himself became increasingly interested in composition and other activities, and the need for a full-time band receded.

Pete continued to work with Costello and other bands on an occasional basis, but soon joined Steve Nieve, the Attractions keyboard player to form a studio band for the Jonathan Ross TV show. The Jonathan Ross Show soon became very popular, and attracted many world famous singers and musicians. Pete backed them all, and his expertise and amiable personality made him a great favourite as well as expanding his already vast range of experience.

When the last series of the Jonathan Ross Show closed, Pete found that he was increasingly in demand for session work, much of it in the USA. In particular Pete's work with Los Lobos and various Spanish singers produced a particular expertise in latin percussion styles, probably some of the most complex and demanding in the contemporary music scene. Other work involved artists like Sheryl Crow, Bonnle Raitt, Suzanne Vega, Ron Sexsmith and many others. Pete worked regularly with his old friend Mitchell Froom and in 1998 he found himself in Los Angeles recording with singer Vonda Shepard on a new album which Froom co-produced.

Vonda Shepard's worldwide TV exposure on the Ally McBeal show had moved her career into a higher gear, Demanding a band of appropriately high calibre. Pete's eclectic talents fulfilled the need exactly and he accepted the offer of a regular contract.

So, in the Spring of 1999 Pete and his family moved to Los Angeles. His work with Vonda left him with some time to spare and before long he was much in demand for session work with artists like Randy Newman and Tim McGraw.

As time passed Pete built up an increasing rapport with the two other regular members of Vonda Shepard’s band, Val McCallum and Davey Faragher. The group discovered a mutual interest in older style country music and this led to the formation of "Jack Shit" an informal band which speedily built up a dedicated following on the LA club circuit. "Jack Shit" (it means "Nothing" in American country slang) played country music with a very modern twist, exploiting the extravagant musical talents of its three members. The band released its first album in mid 2001.

Although happy with his work in California Pete had always kept in touch with Elvis Costello, and was delighted to hear that the famous singer-songwriter had begun to think about a new Attractions-style album. Due to the estrangement between Elvis and Bruce Thomas it was necessary to find a new bass player, but fortunately Pete's LA partner-in-rhythm Davey Faragher was up for the job. With Pete and Davey touring in Europe in July 2001 there was an opportunity to prove that the new combination really worked, and the album "When I Was Cruel" was recorded in Dublin shortly afterwards. Although critics have described the new album as sounding "Really like The Attractions" the Nieve/Faragher/Thomas team decided not to use the original name, but is known as "The Imposters". The release of "When I Was Cruel" attracted great critical acclaim and ensured the success of the World Tour scheduled for June - November 2002. As the tour progressed the rapport between Costello and the three "Imposters" continued to develop and resulted in the issue of an expanded version of "When I Was Cruel", the double CD "Collectors Edition".

So, with Pete Thomas's career moving into a new phase his reputation is as high as ever, and this was recognised in November 2002 when the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced it's list of Inductees for 2003. This included the four original members of Elvis Costello and the Attractions, who were formally inducted at a ceremony in New York on 10 March 2003.

Throughout 2003 Pete's newly enhanced reputation brought an increasing workload of session work with many famous artists, including Nancy Sinatra and Ashley Simpson. In 2004 Elvis Costello planned a new album with The Imposters and this was recorded early in the year at Sweet Tea Studios in Oxford, Mississippi. The album, titled "The Delivery Man" was launched in August and was promoted in a tour covering USA, Australia and Japan. The tour continued in 2005 with concerts in Europe, USA and South America.

After hurricane Katrina in 2005 E C joined New Orleans singer/songwriter Allen Toussaint to produce a joint album "The River in Reverse". This was followed by a nationwide tour in which the Imposters were joined by Anthony Brown and The Crescent City Horns and recorded on DVD in "Hot as a Pistol: Keen as a Blade. E Costello and the Imposters also released the DVD "Live in Memphis" in which they were joined by Emmylou Harris.

In March 2007 Pete and Davey joined veteran French rocker Eddy Mitchell for a prolonged European tour. This promoted Mitchell's latest album "Jambalaya" which features Pete on drums and Davey on bass guitar. The Imposters also reformed for the '07 tour with Elvis Costello.

Returning to Los Angeles Pete started a period of session and film work, including a major project for Disney with Randy Newman. In 2008 work started on a new album with EC and The Imposters. Titled Momofuku (after the inventor of the pot noodle) this features two drummers, with Pete being joined on several tracks by his daughter Tennessee. Release was timed to coincide with the start of a long US tour in which EC/Imposters joined forces with The Police. The Pete/Tennessee drum duo also featured in E. Costello's TV series "Spectacle".

Jack Shit continues to delight its many dedicated fans whenever the band members can get together. In mid 2005 Jack Shit visited Tulsa, Oklahoma and recorded a new album with producer Steve Ripley. "Jack Shit Number 2" was released in mid 2006.

Other recent projects include recording a new Randy Newman album "Harps and Angels", a Sara Watkins album produced by John Paul Jones and an album by the new band WPA (visit them - click here) with whom Peter toured in Summer 2009. Later in '09 Pete's drumming was featured in several international no 1's -- Marc Lavoine. Volume 10 in France, Fito & Fitipaldi "Antes de que cuento diez" in Spain and Disney's animated film "The Princess and the Frog"in USA.

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