Lee “Kix” Thompson, best known as the saxophonist for the British ska band Madness, has been a driving force in the world of ska music. Born on October 5, 1957, in London, England, Thompson has forged an illustrious career that has not only defined his musical persona but also significantly contributed to the global appeal of ska music.
Thompson’s musical journey began in his early teens when he was exposed to a variety of musical influences. His love for ska, reggae, and rocksteady grew, culminating in the formation of Madness in 1976. Thompson, along with the other band members, brought a unique flavor to the UK music scene, combining the rhythms of Jamaican ska with a distinctly British sensibility. Their energetic performances and memorable tunes quickly earned them a devoted fan base.
Madness, with Thompson’s saxophone often taking the lead, released a string of hits throughout the 1980s. Thompson’s distinctive saxophone playing, characterized by its rich tone and rhythmic agility, played a vital role in shaping the band’s sound. Songs like “One Step Beyond,” “Night Boat to Cairo,” and “Baggy Trousers” showcased his dynamic musicianship and encapsulated the exuberant spirit of the ska revival.
Outside of his work with Madness, Thompson has also been involved in various other musical projects. In 2011, he formed The Lee Thompson Ska Orchestra, an ensemble dedicated to celebrating the traditional sounds of ska and rocksteady. His solo work and collaborations have further established him as a versatile musician capable of traversing various genres while maintaining his signature ska-infused style.
In addition to his musicianship, Thompson’s vibrant personality and onstage antics have further cemented his status as an iconic figure in the world of ska. His charismatic performances and often surreal sense of humor have made him a favorite among fans, adding a distinctive flair to his musical output.
In essence, Lee “Kix” Thompson is a stalwart of ska music, with a career that has continually pushed the boundaries of the genre. His contributions to Madness and his own musical projects reflect a deep passion for and understanding of ska music. Through his dynamic saxophone playing and charismatic presence, Thompson continues to leave an indelible mark on the global ska scene. His legacy serves as an inspiration for up-and-coming saxophonists, offering a blueprint for merging musical skill with personal charisma.
Page last updated 7/7/2023.