Chris Thompson Profile

Jon Chapman
4 Dec 2018

Psychedelic and sarcastic, graceful or scathing, Chris Thompson’s carefree voice is by turns supple and satiny, or scratchy and stuffy-nosed. In the early 1970s this young Hamilton singer-songwriter travelled to the UK to mingle with the masters – and dexterously rivalled the British in the guitar technique they invented.

His 1973 debut album is now firmly established in the immortal canon of fingerstyle guitar, an internationally acknowledged masterwork. Unfortunately, it took 30 years to be discovered. Plus, he has often been confused with that other Chris Thompson from Hamilton. 

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Poster from the Drunken Nights In Dublin release tour for Chris Thompson's "lost" 1974 Apple Corps (London) acetate, released for the first time in 2018.
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Side one label to Echoes From The Pit, Chris Thompson's second album, 1976, Direction Records.
Photo credit: Chris Thompson collection
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Chris Thompson's debut album, now regarded as a psych-folk classic.
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Chris Thompson's third album Minstrelsy, 1977, Warner Bros Records NZ.
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Chris Thompson at Cafe One2one, Ponsonby Road, Auckland, November 2018. 
Photo credit: Patrick Byrne
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Side two label from Drunken Nights In Dublin, Chris Thompson's "lost" 1974 Apple Corps (London) acetate, made available for the first time in 2018.
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Side two label from Chris Thompson's 1983 album The Natural Blues, Cityfolk Record Co.
Photo credit: Chris Thompson collection
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Chris Thompson (in the distance) on the tarmac with Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Photo credit: Chris Thompson collection
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Chris and Lynne Thompson's 1985 album Together, on the Ode label.
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Chris Thompson's Dublin period, mentioned in Billboard magazine, February 3, 1973.
Photo credit: Chris Thompson collection
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Side one label from Drunken Nights In Dublin, Chris Thompson's "lost" 1974 Apple Corps (London) acetate, made available for the first time in 2018.
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Various formats and publicity material for Drunken Nights In Dublin, Chris Thompson's "lost" 1974 Apple Corps (London) acetate, finally released in 2018.
Photo credit: Chris Thompson collection
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Back cover to Minstrelsy, Chris Thompson's third album, 1977, Warner Bros Records NZ.
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Side one label from Chris Thompson's 1983 album The Natural Blues, Cityfolk Record Co.
Photo credit: Chris Thompson collection
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Label from  Drunken Nights In Dublin, Chris Thompson's "lost" 1974 Apple Corps (London) acetate, made available for the first time in 2018.
Photo credit: Chris Thompson collection
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Chris Thompson (right) with his friend Donald McLeod who, in 2018, released Thompson's "lost" album Drunken Nights in Dublin
Photo credit: Chris Thompson collection
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Drunken Nights In Dublin, Chris Thompson's "lost" 1974 Apple Corps (London) acetate.
Photo credit: Chris Thompson collection
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How many banjo pickers does it take to stage New Zealand’s first multi-day national music festival? In 1967, organiser – and self-proclaimed “benevolent dictator” – Michael Grace is in the centre of the doorway, Paul Trenwith (Hamilton County Bluegrass Band) is second from him on the left, Clive Collins is to the left of Trenwith. Tuning his banjo third from right is John Ruffell, who recorded the conventions, and later co-owned Kiwi Pacific Records. Behind him, with head turned left, is Chris Thompson. Sitting in front are Frank Sillay (head turned), Sandy McMillin and Alan Rhodes (both HCBB). Steve Robinson (Tamburlaine) is in the centre wearing a white shirt with Giles Baskett in the sunglasses to his right. Photo credit: Tony Ward (David Calder collection)
Photo credit: Tony Ward
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Chris Thompson's self-titled 1973 album on the Village Thing label.
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Chris Thompson in 2018.
Photo credit: Chris Thompson collection
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Drunken Nights In Dublin, Chris Thompson's "lost" 1974 Apple Corps (London) acetate, available for the first time in 2018.
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Chris Thompson sings 'Crazy Mama' at the Drunken Nights in Dublin launch, November 2018
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Chris Thompson's 1995 album Song For Laura, Manu label (Ode).
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Chris Thompson's 1983 album The Natural Blues, on the Hastings-based Cityfolk Record Co label.
Photo credit: Chris Thompson collection
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Photos from the inner sleeve of Chris Thompson's 1995 Song For Laura album on the Manu (Ode) label.
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Chris Thompson, Lester Calder, John Congerton pictured in Durham Lane, Auckland, 1969.
Photo credit: Chris Thompson collection
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Echoes From The Pit, Chris Thompson's second album, 1976, Direction Records.
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Chris Thompson's self-titled 1973 album on the Village Thing label.
Photo credit: Chris Thompson collection
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Back cover to Chris Thompson's 1973 self-titled album on the Village Thing label.
Photo credit: Chris Thompson collection
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Chris Thompson - the photo used on the cover of Echoes From The Pit, Direction Records, 1976.
Photo credit: Chris Thompson collection
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Cover of Chris Thompson's 1993 Coffee Break album, on the Manu (Ode) label. Chris sits with fellow musician and Atomic Cafe owner, Chris Priestley.
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Labels:

Ode


Cityfolk Record Co


Direction


Thrust Records


Scenesof


WEA


Wild Rose Music Limited


Jolly Roger Records


Sunbeam


RAK Records


Village Thing Records


WEA