Sun Ra Arkestra’s Danny Ray Thompson Dead at 72

Sun Ra Arkestra’s Danny Ray Thompson Dead at 72

Danny Ray Thompson, longtime baritone saxophone player and flutist of cosmic jazz ensemble Sun Ra Arkestra, has died. According to The New York Times and a post on the band’s website, Thompson died on March 12 in Philadelphia. He was 72 years old. “Danny Ray Thompson is now traveling the spaceways, joining the many beloved Arkestra members who have previously left the planet and who now soar with the spirit of Sun Ra,” the band wrote in their post. Find it in full below.

Thompson joined Sun Ra Arkesta in 1967. His first appearance on an album by the Arkestra was in 1969, on the group’s Atlantis LP. Thompson went on to play on dozens of the group’s recordings throughout the decades, including those featured on the career-spanning collection In the Orbit of Ra, 2017’s Thunder of the Gods, and many other LPs in the Arkestra’s highly prolific career.

Thompson wore many hats during his time with the group. He got his start watching the Arkestra’s house in New York every Monday night while the band played a weekly set at Slug’s Saloon. Thompson also acted as driver for the band, as well as longtime manager and member. Thompson left the Arkestra in the 1990s before returning to the group in the 2000s.

In 2019, Thompson released Ceremonial Healing—a 10-track avant-garde jazz album with Marshall Allen, Jamie Saft, Trevor Dunn, Balazs Pandi, and Roswell Rudd.

Danny Ray Thompson has left the planet

Danny Ray Thompson, long time Sun Ra Arkestra member, left the planet on Thursday night March 12, 2020. He was on 72 Arkestra recordings and performed on baritone sax, alto sax, flute, Neptunian libflecto (bassoon with French horn or saxophone mouthpiece), percussion, and vocals within the band.

He performed 45 years in the Sun Ra Arkestra, first joining it in 1967. He also served as Band Manager during his Arkestra tenure.

Danny Ray Thompson is now traveling the spaceways, joining the many beloved Arkestra members who have previously left the planet and who now soar with the spirit of Sun Ra.