Ed Thigpen, (Edmund Leonard Thigpen), American jazz musician (born Dec. 28, 1930, Chicago, Ill.—died Jan. 13, 2010, Copenhagen, Den.), played drums with intense swing yet with a discretion and sensitivity that made him a favourite accompanist of singers and member of small groups.
Thigpen, the son of veteran big-band drummer Ben Thigpen, played in bop and swing-styled combos in the 1950s, including pianist Billy Taylor’s trio (1956–59), and recorded with singer Blossom Dearie, pianist Mal Waldron, saxophonists John Coltrane and Paul Quinichette, and others.
He became most noted as a member (1959–65) of the popular Oscar Peterson Trio and as the drummer for singer Ella Fitzgerald through most of 1966–72.
Though Thigpen moved to Copenhagen in 1972 and drummed for touring American and European jazz artists, he also frequently returned to perform and teach in the U.S. He also taught jazz in European colleges and conservatories, authored drum-instruction books, and taught percussion lessons on videos and DVDs.