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Pete Thomas to play in his home town
The Argus, 2005-01-27
Adrian Kwintner

The imposter who made it into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

by Adrian Kwintner

HIS drumming used to annoy the neighbours when he was a boy but they changed their tune when he became a member of a famous band.

Now Pete Thomas boasts an entry in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in America and the adulation of his many fans as the drummer with Elvis Costello's backing band, The Imposters.

Pete, who was born and raised in Sussex, makes a triumphant homecoming next month for the Brighton leg of Costello's world tour to promote his new album, The Delivery Man.

Speaking from Amsterdam, Pete, 50, said he was looking forward to catching up with friends after the gig.

But swigging bottles of beer with them will not be on the cards. He said: "I finally gave up drinking six years ago. You start to see pictures of yourself at parties looking ghastly. No one in the band drinks now and we're probably playing much better than we ever did."

Pete attended Lewes Priory School and the Sussex Music School and started his career with a band called The Grobs.

His parents Philip and Sheila still live in his home town of Seaford and remember a time when their son's musical talents were not so popular.

Philip said: "Pete started drumming when he was seven. Neighbours used to tell us to stop the noise but when he got famous they rang up for free tickets."

Pete moved to London in 1972 and joined a pub band called Chilli Willi and the Red Hot Peppers before going to California to drum for singer-songwriter John Stewart.

He was invited back to Britain in 1977 to join Elvis Costello's backing band, then known as The Attractions.

He is regarded as one of the world's top session musicians and has collaborated with Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow and Nancy Sinatra.

Two years ago, Pete, now based in Los Angeles, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at a ceremony in New York as part of Elvis Costello and The Attractions.

Philip said: "Nancy Sinatra wanted Pete to tour with her but Elvis gets priority because of their history. We know Elvis well and we'll be joining him for a drink backstage after the gig."

Music runs in the family. Pete's daughter, Tennessee, 20, plays drums with upcoming girl band The Like, who recently supported Razorlight in Los Angeles.

Philip said: "Pete and Tennessee have been walking around Los Angeles and people have asked for her autograph instead of his."

Elvis Costello and The Imposters play Brighton Dome on February 9.