The original bassist for Molly Hatchet, Banner Thomas is now taking a break from the 80s rock band lifestyle and enjoying all there is to do (and play!) in St. Johns County. His go-to-gig? Shredding bass at Tradewinds.
Back in the late 1970s, “southern rock” was starting to fade. As some of the more popular southern rock bands of the 70s began to find their way into a slow retirement, a new crop of bands, southern born and bred, were starting to gain popularity. There were a lot of bands and a lot of musicians who were practitioners of this new southern rock genre. One such band, hailing from Jacksonville, was the venerable Molly Hatchet and one such musician was bassist Banner Thomas.
Born in Savannah, GA, Thomas moved to Jacksonville at an early age, and played his first professional gig at the age of 15. He’s been a professional musician ever since. As the original bassist for Molly Hatchet, he played an integral role in shaping the hard rock southern boogie sound that came to define the band. He was also responsible for what is arguably the biggest hit off their debut album, the song “Gator Country.” That debut album, entitled “Molly Hatchet,” was certified Gold on June 28, 1979. It went Platinum a year and a half later. As if that wasn’t enough, he co-wrote the band’s biggest hit, the title track off their triple platinum second album “Flirtin’ With Disaster.”
Fast forward 36 years, and Banner Thomas is now living a quieter life than the one he had in the past, opting to stay outside the glaring spotlights of arena stages and the uncomfortable bunks in tour buses. Although he lives in Jacksonville, he flexes his musical might in St. Augustine, playing with some of the more popular bands in the area.
When asked what his biggest challenge as a musician is today, his answer is thought provoking: “I’m 61 years old and I’m trying to keep up with the me of 20 years ago. It’s hard.”
After spending years on the road, it would fit that he has some amazing stories to tell and incredible memories to relive. He was quick to share his two most memorable musical moments. First was meeting bassist Billy Cox. Cox, who was the bass player for Jimi Hendrix, was Banner’s earliest idol. The second was opening for The Who in Nuremberg, Germany, in front of a crowd 150,000 strong.
Banner Thomas is a bass player’s bass player. You can watch him work his four string magic with the Dewey Via Band on Monday nights and Those Guys on Tuesday nights, both at Tradewinds.
Find Banner on Facebook.