Anybody that enjoys talk shows would have undoubtedly heard of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. It is one of the most popular talk shows out there run by NBC and Jimmy Fallon is the face of the show who has been representing it for over 9 years.
It is of course, not a one man show and credit must be given to everyone working to make it as successful as it is. Among them, their signed star in-house band, The Roots.
The Roots are an American hip hop band famed for their jazzy and broad-based approach to the genre. Their hard work and talent together has placed them in the spotlight as one of the best hip hop groups of all time. In fact, they have actually been ranked as number 7 by ThoughtCo for this very category and they have also been called “Hip-hop’s first legitimate band”.
Ahmir Thompson, better known as Questlove (stylized as ?uestlove) is the drummer, joint frontman and one of the founders of The Roots. Not only is he a successful musician, he has also found success as a record producer, filmmaker, disc jockey, actor and music journalist.
On top of this, he's also an adjunct professor at the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at the New York University.
Born on January 20, 1971 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Thompson grew up in a musical family. His father, who was the lead singer of a 1950s doo-wop group, Lee Andrews & the Hearts, was also a member of the Congress Alley, a soul group, along with Thompson’s mother.
Being that they were full time musicians, Thompson’s parents were always on the move. They didn’t really want to leave Thompson with babysitters so they always took him along on tours.
Because of this, Thompson was already highly exposed to the music industry at such a young age. By the age of 7, he already started performing live on the drums and being a musical director at 13.
During his teenage years, he attended the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts. This was the time he met his future band mate, Tariq Trotter and several other soon to be famous musicians including Christian McBride, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Joey DeFrancesco, and Amel Larrieux. After graduating, he and Trotter started collaborating together and came up with Square Roots.
From there, the two would frequently perform in the street corners of Philadelphia. Specifically, they were always around South Street with Thompson on the drums and Tariq with his rhymes. It wasn't long before Malik Basit, Leonard Hubbard, and Scott Storch joined the group as another vocalist, bassist, and keyboardist accordingly.
As the group went on relentlessly performing everywhere they could, they started gaining a reputation for themselves in the clubs of Philadelphia and New York City.
As Thompson and his band became more confident in their abilities, they recorded their debut album, Organix and released it in 1993 by Relativity Records. Without wasting much time, they went on and released 2 more critically acclaimed albums named "Do you Want More?!!!??!"" in 1995 and "Illadelph Halflife" in 1996.
It wasn’t until 1999 did the band reach mainstream and global success with their song “You Got Me” featuring Erykah Badu. Soon after, they leveraged the attention they were getting and released their next album Things Fall Apart in the same year which by itself, became known as a classic and sold platinum.
Even though The Roots were achieving tremendous success on their own, it didn’t stop Thompson from collaborating with other people and taking on different roles. Among others, he worked with famous names in the industry such as D’Angelo, Erykah Badu, Christian McBride, Uri Caine, Christina Aguilera, John Mayer, Joss Stones, Jay-Z, Madonna, Bootsy Collins, Iggy Pop, Little Richard, Rick Nielsen, Joe Perry, Bernie Worrell, Charlie Daniels, and Zucchero Fornaciari.
In 2009, The Roots found themselves an incredible opportunity and took it as they started becoming a house band for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, an hour long show that went on every weeknight until 2014. From there, The Roots followed Jimmy Fallon and continued to be the in-house band for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon by NBC. This is where Thompson had some opportunities to shine as he showed his production and DJ abilities by dubbing video clips, cueing in audio samples in rhythm and adding in his drum breaks all at once.
As time went along, Thompson experienced a newfound love for writing and in 2013, he released a memoir named “Mo’Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove”.
In the same year, with the help of Harper Design, his second release, “Soul Train: The Music, Dance, and Style of a Generation” was published. His third release was published in 2016 titled “Something to Food About: Exploring Creativity with Innovative Chefs”.
After that, in 2018, “Creative Quest” was released and in 2021, his book “Music is History” was published.
His books and style of writing are always thought provoking and typically surrounding the topics of music, culture, creativity, race, gender and sometimes even politics. It’s evident that he is passionate in educating and somewhat trying to make a change in the world we live in.
As Questlove progresed through his career he went through a number of different drum kits. Some of his sets would include:
He plays with his custom Vic Firth Ahmir ?uestlove Thompson Signature Drumsticks.
Aside from his regular appearances on The Tonights Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, he can also be found many times on our screens as he acted for numerous shows and films. Among others he was an actor on:
Having such a reputation and talent, Thompson has won himself many awards in different categories of the entertainment industry. These would include awards such as:
Questlove started playing the drums in 1978 at the age of 7.
Questlove has been playing the drums for 45 years now.
Throughout his career Questlove has used Zildjian, Ludwig, Yamaha, Roland and Vic Firth.
He is known for playing Hip Hop and Neo Soul.
Counting all his Albums, Questlove has been featured on at least 194 recordings.
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