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About Tracy Thornton

Steel drum player Tracy Thornton was born in North Carolina and began performing as a drummer at age 15 in the mid-'80s. Initially, he worked as a conventional drummer in such hard rock bands as Soul Society (recording the album Here We All [1990]) and Toxic Popsickle (Something to Suck On [1991], Friends of Zid [1992]), as well as the ska group Otis Reem (The Prophet [1999]). Gradually, he moved toward other island styles and different percussion instruments. He played with the reggae/calypso band Trinidad North, and played djembe and djun djun in a West African djembe drum core called Rhythms of Life headed by drum master Kahlid Saleem. Turning to the steelpan or steel drum, Thornton recorded his first solo album, Steelin' Christmas (1994), and founded the calypso/jazz group Been Caught Steelin' (Been Caught Steelin' [1996], Steel and Brass [1997]) and later the steel drum band Sons of Steel (Outta the Blue [1999], Carpe Diem [2000]). A self-taught musician, Thornton has taught drumming extensively, employing what he calls his "drill and kill to skill" method. In 2002, he released his second solo album, Just Me and My Pan, and in 2005, he followed with Pan for Punks: A Steelpan Tribute to the Ramones. ~ William Ruhlmann