One month after his death at age forty-eight from renal cell cancer, former Chic drummer Tony Thompson will be remembered at a December 16th benefit/fundraiser at the Hard Rock Cafe in Los Angeles. Among those scheduled to perform at the show are former Guns n' Roses members Slash and Matt Sorum, Chic mastermind Nile Rodgers, drummer Carmine Appice, Michael Des Barres and percussionist Tal Bergman. More names will be announced soon for the show, which will feature a house band leading the guest musicians through a selection of songs Thompson performed on.
One of the event's organizers, Thompson family friend Suzanne McCafferty, helped launch the tonythompsonfund.com Web site earlier this fall, a month after the renowned session man found out he would need to have a kidney removed. "When Tony was diagnosed with cancer in September, like a lot of musicians, he didn't have health insurance and he'd already built up a lot of medical bills," says McCafferty. "A friend of mine who knows [Thompson's wife] Patrice suggested we put together a benefit concert, which we expected Tony to attend."
The site was up and running by early October and the flood of positive letters buoyed the drummer's spirits. But shortly after, with Thompson in the hospital and his condition quickly deteriorating, McCafferty realized that Patrice and her two children would be left to face large medical bills.
"Tony knew we were putting on this benefit, and he knew who was involved and it warmed his heart," McCafferty says. "That's why the tickets are $35 and not $150 -- he wanted fans and other hard-working musicians to come."
David Bowie, whose album Let's Dance features Thompson's trademark drum figures, has donated a piece of original artwork to be raffled during the event. Additionally, a Yamaha drum kit signed by all the participating musicians will be raffled.
Thompson, who died November 12th in Los Angeles, was a founding member of the disco/funk group Chic and a respected session drummer who worked with Madonna, Sister Sledge, Diana Ross, Power Station, Duran Duran and Robert Palmer in the Seventies and Eighties. He was also briefly considered as a replacement for the late John Bonham in a revived Led Zeppelin after he played with the group's surviving members during the 1985 Live Aid concert.
Thompson is survived by his wife, Patrice Jennings, and her two teenage children. Fans who cannot attend the show can make donations on the tonythompsonfund.com Web site. The tentative set list for the Tony Thompson Fund benefit:
"I Want Your Love"
"I'm Coming Out"
"Addicted to Love"
"Bang a Gong"
"Some Like It Hot"
"Like a Virgin"
"Lost in You"
"We Are Family"
"With a Little Help From My Friends"