Sun Ra Arkestra Anchor, Danny Ray Thompson, Dead at 72

Thompson served as a jack-of-all-trades in the cosmic jazz collective.

Danny Ray Thompson, a longtime member of the Sun Ra Arkestra, has died. He was 72-years-old.

Though a cause has yet to be revealed, Thompson’s death was confirmed by current Arkestra leader, Marshall Allen, according to The New York Times. Thompson unofficially joined the group in 1967 when Allen introduced him to Sun Ra, serving as caretaker for the bandleader’s apartment when the group would play gigs around the city.

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He was later upgraded to chauffeur before making his onstage debut with The Arkestra at Carnegie Hall in 1968, just a week after Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination. The following year, Thomspon finally landed on a record with the group, playing saxophone and flute on the 1969 album, Atlantis. Filling a variety of roles throughout the following decades, Thompson took some time off in the 90s, but reunited with the Arkestra when Allen took the reigns after Sun Ra’s death in 1993.

The last decade of his life was plagued by illness, sending him in and out of hospitals. But he joined the group for one last send-off earlier this month at Manhattan’s Town Hall.




Zo is a staff writer at Okayplayer where he covers music.

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