Bruce Thomas

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Bruce Thomas (born 14 August 1948 in Stockton-on-Tees, England) is best known as bassist for the Attractions; [1] the band formed in 1977 to back Elvis Costello in concert and on record.

Stockton-on-Tees Market town in County Durham, England

Stockton-on-Tees is a market town in County Durham, England. The town has a population of 85,000, with a population of 195,000 in the wider borough, according to 2017 estimates.

The Attractions were an English backing band for the English new wave musician Elvis Costello between 1977 and 1986, and again from 1994 to 1996. They consisted of Steve Nieve, Bruce Thomas, and Pete Thomas (drums). They also released one album as an independent entity, without Costello, in 1980.

Elvis Costello English singer-songwriter

Declan Patrick MacManus, better known by his stage name Elvis Costello, is an English musician, singer, songwriter, composer, record producer, author, television presenter, and occasional actor.


In addition to his work with the Attractions, Thomas has recorded with Billy Bragg, John Wesley Harding, Suzanne Vega, and Tasmin Archer.

Billy Bragg English singer-songwriter and left-wing political activist

Stephen William Bragg is an English singer-songwriter and activist. His music blends elements of folk music, punk rock and protest songs, with lyrics that mostly span political or romantic themes. His music is heavily centred on bringing about change and involving the younger generation in activist causes.

John Wesley Harding (singer) British singer-songwriter and author

Wesley Stace is a folk/pop singer-songwriter and author who has used the stage name John Wesley Harding. Under his legal name, he has written four novels. He is also a university teacher and the curator of Wesley Stace's Cabinet of Wonders.

Suzanne Vega American singer

Suzanne Nadine Vega is an American singer-songwriter, musician and record producer, best known for her eclectic folk-inspired music.

Thomas has also been a nonfiction writer for several decades, and is the author of Bruce Lee: Fighting Spirit (1994), a biography of the renowned martial artist and movie star, and The Body of Time (and the Energies of Being), ISBN   0-14-019301-4 (1991), a short book about metaphysics. Rough Notes, published in 2015, is both a memoir of his time with The Attractions and a documentary history of the British music scene of the 1970s. [2]

Bruce Lee Hong Kong-American actor, martial artist

Lee Jun-fan, known professionally as Bruce Lee, was a Hong Kong-American actor, director, martial artist, martial arts instructor, and philosopher. He was the founder of the hybrid martial arts Jeet Kune Do. Lee was the son of Cantonese opera star Lee Hoi-chuen. He is considered by commentators, critics, media, and other martial artists to be the most influential martial artist and a pop culture icon of the 20th century, who bridged the gap between East and West. He is often credited with helping to change the way Asians were presented in American films.

International Standard Book Number Unique numeric book identifier

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a numeric commercial book identifier which is intended to be unique. Publishers purchase ISBNs from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency.

Early life

Thomas attended Grangefield Grammar School in Stockton on Tees, and after leaving, worked as a trainee commercial-artist at the local Evening Gazette newspaper. He was playing bass in local bands at night, around his home town, and eventually joined the Roadrunners (with Paul Rodgers & Micky Moody). After Rodgers switched from playing bass to being their up-front singer, the band changed their name to The Wildflowers, and in late 1966 decided to quit their respective day-jobs and move to London. After achieving little success, the band eventually split.

Paul Rodgers English-Canadian singer-songwriter

Paul Bernard Rodgers is an English singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. In the 1960s and 1970s, he was vocalist of Free and Bad Company. After stints in two less successful bands in the 1980s and early 1990s, The Firm and The Law, he became a solo artist. He has more recently toured and recorded with Queen. A poll in Rolling Stone magazine ranked him number 55 on its list of the "100 Greatest Singers of All Time". In 2011 Rodgers received the British Academy's Ivor Novello Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Music.

Michael Joseph Moody is an English guitarist, and a former member of the rock bands Juicy Lucy and Whitesnake. He was also a founder-member of Snafu. Together with his former Whitesnake colleague Bernie Marsden he founded the Moody Marsden Band, and later, The Snakes, having previously collaborated with unofficial 5th Status Quo member Bob Young in Young & Moody. Along with Marsden and ex-Whitesnake bassist, Neil Murray, he formed The Company of Snakes and M3 Classic Whitesnake with which they mainly performed early Whitesnake songs. More recently, he has toured and recorded with Snakecharmer.


Thomas remained in London, hooking up with Bitter Sweet and Bodast in the late 1960s and recording with Quiver, The Sutherland Brothers, Moonrider and Al Stewart in the early 1970s.

<i>Bitter Sweet</i> operetta by Noël Coward

Bitter Sweet is an operetta in three acts, with book, music and lyrics by Noël Coward. The story, set in 19th century and early 20th century England and Austria-Hungary, centres on a young woman's elopement with her music teacher. The songs from the score include "The Call of Life", "If You Could Only Come with Me", "I'll See You Again", "Dear Little Café", "If Love Were All", "Ladies of the Town", "Tokay", "Zigeuner" and "Green Carnation".

Bodast were a late 1960s rock group from London. Its most famous member was Steve Howe, later to join Yes. Members were Clive Skinner on guitar and vocals, Dave Curtiss on bass and Bobby Clarke on drums.

Al Stewart British musician

Alastair Ian Stewart is a Scottish singer-songwriter and folk-rock musician who rose to prominence as part of the British folk revival in the 1960s and 1970s. He developed a unique style of combining folk-rock songs with delicately woven tales of characters and events from history.

His inventive and highly melodic bass work with Costello brought Thomas his greatest fame. Between 1977 and 1987, Elvis Costello & The Attractions released nine record albums, including This Year's Model (1978), Punch the Clock (1983), and Blood & Chocolate (1986), and toured extensively.

<i>This Years Model</i> 1978 studio album by Elvis Costello and the Attractions

This Year's Model is Elvis Costello's second album and his first with the Attractions, released in 1978. It was mainly recorded at Eden Studios in West London.

<i>Punch the Clock</i> 1983 studio album by Elvis Costello and the Attractions

Punch the Clock is an album released in 1983 by Elvis Costello and the Attractions. It was Costello's eighth album, his seventh with the Attractions since 1978. The album featured Costello's first US Top 40 hit, "Everyday I Write the Book." It was produced by Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley, who also produced Costello's following album, Goodbye Cruel World.

<i>Blood & Chocolate</i> 1986 studio album by Elvis Costello and the Attractions

Blood & Chocolate is the eleventh studio album by the British rock singer and songwriter Elvis Costello, released in the United Kingdom as Demon Records XFIEND 80, and in the United States as Columbia 40518. After his previous album King of America with producer T-Bone Burnett and different musicians, this album reunited him with producer Nick Lowe and his usual backing group the Attractions. It peaked at No. 16 on the UK Albums Chart, and No. 84 on the Billboard 200. The album was also included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

During his tenure with the Attractions, Thomas used a wide variety of bass guitars. He at various times owned a good selection of Fender Precisions, a Danelectro Longhorn and a Wal bass.

After Costello's initial split with the Attractions in 1987, Thomas recorded with such other artists as Billy Bragg, John Wesley Harding, and Suzanne Vega. In 1990 he released his first book The Big Wheel, a memoir in which the key characters are recognizable without ever being identified by name. Costello, for instance, is called "the singer." Apparently annoyed by his depiction in the book, Costello responded with the song "How To Be Dumb" on his album Mighty Like a Rose (1991). [3] Costello has described his relationship with Thomas during this period as "pretty non-existent".

Despite this estrangement, Costello was persuaded by co-producer Mitchell Froom to invite Thomas to play on the album Brutal Youth (1994). Thomas was featured on 5 tracks of the album. [4] The reunited Elvis Costello & the Attractions followed the album with a tour and another album All This Useless Beauty (1996). Toward the end of a second tour, Costello announced that he would be splitting with the group as soon as the tour was over. Elvis Costello & the Attractions played their final concert on 15 September 1996, in Nagoya, Japan.

Costello has said in interviews with a variety of publications, including the Rocky Mountain News , that the old animosity between himself and Thomas returned. Costello said that Thomas deliberately sabotaged some songs onstage, which was the breaking point. The other two Attractions, Steve Nieve and Pete Thomas (no relation to Bruce), have continued to tour and record with Costello as The Imposters, with Davey Faragher, formerly of Cracker, on bass. Bruce Thomas has said that he simply lost interest in playing with Costello. In an interview Thomas stated "no reformation is ever going to come about under my initiative – or under any other circumstances I can foresee." [5]


In 2003 Thomas was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Elvis Costello and the Attractions. [6] Thomas appeared onstage with Costello to accept the honour, but they did not perform together. Thomas's book On the Road... Again, the sequel to The Big Wheel, was published that same year.

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Here Comes the Groom is an album released in January 1990 by folk-rock singer John Wesley Harding. Harding called the backing band the Good Liars, which included Pete Thomas and Bruce Thomas of the Attractions. Not surprisingly, Here Comes the Groom has a feel similar to classic Elvis Costello. Harding's articulate and biting vocal delivery, also reminiscent of Costello, retains a good dark sense of humor.

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  1. Palmer, Robert (2 February 1981). "Elvis Costello Shows Range and Consistency". New York Times. Archived from the original on 10 February 2009. Retrieved 10 February 2009.
  2. Thomas, Bruce (30 July 2015). "Rough Notes: dancing about architecture". CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform via Amazon.
  4. "Brutal Youth - Elvis Costello - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic".
  5. "Q & A with Bruce Thomas".
  6. "Inductees by Year (2003)". Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Retrieved 22 January 2011.