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date: 05 April 2020

Thompson, Joe locked

(9 Dec. 1918 – 20 Feb. 2012),
  • Tony Thomas


perhaps the last traditional African American fiddler, was born Joseph Aquilla Thompson in the High Rock community equidistant from Mebane, Efland, and Cedar Grove, in northern Orange County, North Carolina. He was the son of Rosa Crisp Thompson (1882–1960) and John Arch Thompson (1878–1968), a farmer and fiddler who later worked as an elementary school janitor. John Arch Thompson's father, Robert Thompson (1849–?), had moved his family from Person County, North Carolina, to Cedar Grove by 1900. By the time of Joe's birth, John Arch Thompson on fiddle and his brothers Jacob (1876–1950) and Walter (1882–1949) on banjos played for white and black dancers six nights a week. At age five Joe Thompson obtained a small fiddle and mastered the tune Hook and Line so well that his father who had forbidden Joe to touch his violin ...

A version of this article originally appeared in African American National Biography.

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