Alphonso Sonny Thompson was born in Centerville, Mississippi, in August of 1916. As a teenager Thompson moved to Chicago and decided to further his musical education at that city's Conservatory of Music. As a budding pianist he was heavily influenced by the piano players of the time, most importantly Earl Hines and Art Tatum. In his late teens he secured a job playing with Erskine Tate. For a time Thompson attended the University of Chicago, and also had gigs with Red Allen, Stuff Smith, and his own combo called The Rhythm Masters.
Support All About Jazz and we'll deliver exclusive content, hide ads, hide slide-outs, and provide read access to our future articles.