The Futuristic Sounds And Traditional Attire Of Bob Thompson

It’s the “Jetsons” era and your job is composing imagined music of the future. To put yourself in the proper frame of mind, what do you wear? Like George Jetson, do you wear a high-tech pullover with a collar that looks like rocket wings?

If you’re Bob Thompson — composer of space-age bachelor pad music — you wear what many other with-it professionals wore during the heyday of the Ivy League Look: buttondown shirt, knit tie, and tweed sportcoat — clothes that were simultaneously current and traditional.

I stumbled across these photos of Thompson some months ago — exactly how is lost in space. I’ve written about space-age bachelor pad music before, which was pretty fun to check out when it was rediscovered in the late ’90s. Can’t say I often get much of a craving for it these days, however.

Thompson died a few years ago and there’s a tribute to him at the site Ultra Swank.

Here are a few more photos on the innovator of futuristic pop music, and what it sounded like. — CC

17 Comments on "The Futuristic Sounds And Traditional Attire Of Bob Thompson"

  1. Carmelo Pugliatti | January 11, 2017 at 11:20 am |

    I want live in 1958.Forever.
    There’s a way?

  2. Charlottesville | January 11, 2017 at 11:53 am |

    Carmelo – Exactly! At least concerning music and design, roughly 1958 to 1963 could play in an endless loop as far as I’m concerned. Late enough for air conditioning and the promise of the space age, but before the onslaught of bell bottoms, double-knit polyester, and eventually cargo pants and hoodies that were to follow down the slippery slope. The best I can manage as far as a time machine goes involves wearing a sack coat, and listening to Ella Fitzgerald, Bill Evans etc. with a martini in my hand, pretty much a nightly occurrence chez mois. If you find a better way, please let me know. I suppose I should also admit that it was the era of Dacron shirts, Congoleum floors and the “Flying Purple People Eater” on the radio, to say nothing of Jim Crow, etc. But they need not be a part of my imaginary perfect world.

  3. Block out the contemporary world. I’m sure many of us here do it to some extent.

  4. Grey Flannels | January 11, 2017 at 1:08 pm |

    My way of escaping the present is to wear high-waisted trousers, just like Mr. Thompson.

  5. Amen, brothers. Although my personal time machine always lands around ’87: my softest, oldest khakis and oxford; a little Level 42, R.E.M. or Widespread Panic on the headphones; a bourbon drink in hand … Calgon, take me away …

  6. californian | January 11, 2017 at 1:20 pm |

    @Charlottesville It sounds like you could use a Palm Springs vacation during Modernism Week!

  7. Charlottesville | January 11, 2017 at 2:22 pm |

    @Californian – Sounds perfect. I have never been to Palm Springs, but I can remember LA in the era when people were drinking martinis and smoking cigarettes in the Polo Lounge and Dan Tana’s in coats and ties (at least a few of us wearing coats and ties). Must have been the late 80s or early 90s. A few places in Manhattan still have the old vibe as well, but it is getting harder and harder to keep up the time-machine effect outside of one’s own home. I have no desire to be a Civil War re-enactor (lots of them in this area), but I am something of a 50s re-enactor, I suppose, simply by virtue of my taste in music and clothes. And it seems to be having an effect. A 30-ish colleague has been admiring my mode of dress and asking questions. Today we discussed Harris Tweed. There is some hope for earlier generations after all, as some of the younger commenters on this site remind us from time to time.

  8. Mitchell S. | January 11, 2017 at 4:34 pm |

    I am amazed at how feminine 50s women are. Also, I love the Marilyn Monroe style haircuts. If only I had a time machine…

  9. @Paul
    Surprised to see that WSP reference on this site. If I may, 1987 was a bit early for them. They hit their apex in 1997-2000 I think. But yes, replace the bourbon for a single malt and I’m right there with you.

  10. Great album covers during that era. As a lad, I particularly enjoyed the lower back on the chick on George Shearing’s Latin Lace cover. Liner notes, deeper, richer sound, great graphics and infinitely better music.


  11. Arrived home, old fashioned poured, Bob Thompson on Spotify….

  12. @JLH: I saw them live in ’99 in Wilmington, (De), but first heard them in Farmville in the late 80s (probably on someone’s tape deck!).

  13. Carmelo Pugliatti | January 12, 2017 at 9:43 am |

    And if 1958 in USA was a sweet time..oh boy…you should have seen in Italy!
    Low taxes,slow-non competitive- pleasent life,innovative design, spirited smart cars,scooters,curvaceous ladies,finest bespoke suits and shirts ad affordable prices…and Hollywood on Tiber,Via Veneto,the smart set,Venice,Florence,Capri,Taormina…and of course Marcello with his sun glasses!

  14. ’58 is the year Tom and Dickie go to Italy.

  15. @Paul: I still have some old Dead and WSP bootleg tapes, but nothing on which to play them. Mixed tapes were an art too.

  16. Thanks for honoring my dad! He aspired to not be a square and often was overdressed for the California weather!

  17. Thanks for honoring my dad! He aspired to not be a square and often was overdressed for the California weather! He did like Brooks Brothers but I have no idea if that is where he did his shopping at that time. He horrified his parents by wearing a zoot suit to the High School dance but he’d left that hidey-ho behind by the period in question.

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