- NAME: Questlove
- OCCUPATION: Drummer, Music Producer, Television Personality, Blogger
- BIRTH DATE: January 20, 1971 (Age: 42)
- EDUCATION: Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Full Name: Ahmir Khalib Thompson
- AKA: Questlove
- AKA: Questo
- AKA: Brother Question
- AKA: BROther
- AKA: ?uestlove
- ZODIAC SIGN: Aquarius
Best Known For
Ahmir Khalib Thompson, also known as Questlove, is known as a founding member of the hip-hop/neo-soul group the Roots.
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Born in Pennsylvania in 1971, Ahmir Khalib Thompson, also known as Questlove, is the drummer and co-founder of the hip-hop/neo-soul group the Roots. In addition to helping create the neo-soul movement, Questlove is known for his work on such groundbreaking hip-hop albums as Things Fall Apart (1999) and Phrenology (2002). Since 2008, he has come to popular acclaim as part of the house band for the Late Night with Jimmy Fallon talk show.
Ahmir Khalib Thompson was born on January 20, 1971, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, into a musical family. His father, Lee Andrews, performed as the frontman for the popular 1950s doo-wop group Lee Andrews & the Hearts, and the entire family became heavily involved in the "oldies" music circuit as well, performing with groups like the Coasters, the Drifters and the Chiffons. Ahmir, who started drumming at the age of 2, often accompanied his parents on tour. By the age of 8, he was well-versed in life on the road, learning how to “cut gels, place mics, place lights. Then I became the sound guy and tech guy. One night the drummer didn't make it, and then I was [my father's] drummer.”
Thompson’s first gig came at the age of 13, during a performance at Radio City Music Hall. “My parents didn't trust babysitters back in the early 70s,” Thompson told Mother Jones magazine in 2011. “So I had to play bongos on stage with them 'cause ‘No stranger’s gonna watch my son in Muncie, Indiana!’” That same year, Thompson was named the musical director for his father’s group, and he became determined to establish his own career in music.
His parents additionally fostered their son’s musical talents by enrolling him in the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts in the mid 1980s. It was there that Thompson befriended classmate Tariq Trotter, an aspiring MC. Thompson, performing under the name "Questlove," and Trotter, taking on the moniker "Black Thought," began performing around Philadelphia as The Square Roots in 1987; unable to afford expensive DJ equipment, Trotter simply rhymed over Thompson's drumbeats. The pair gradually moved from street performances to gigs at local clubs, earning them critical acclaim and underground credibility. Together, Questlove and Black Thought helped to develop a new musical movement, later recognized as neo-soul.
After high school, Thompson was offered a spot at the prestigious Juilliard School in New York, but the young musician couldn’t afford the tuition. Instead, Thompson devoted himself to making his unique style of music. During these early days, Thompson and Trotter added bassist Leon Hubbard and rapper Malik B. to their lineup, and changed their name to the Roots.
By 1993, the Roots were considered a hot, underground group—but they had yet to record an album. The opportunity came when they were invited to perform at a hip-hop festival in Germany. In order to have an album to sell at the show, the Roots recorded their independent debut record, Oraganix, in 1993. Organix created a buzz within the hip-hop community, which helped the Roots land a record deal with DGC that same year.
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When musicians land big fame, there typically comes a moment of reinvention in which the "rock star" identity is born. This new persona often requires a new name, a way to differentiate between the private and public versions of themselves. Musical monikers take different forms, from the simple, last-name changes aimed at boosting celebrity appeal—like Steven Tyler—to the glamorized version of a childhood nickname—like Jay-Z. Musicians' nicknames and aliases tend to take on an identity all their own over time, often becoming as full of personality as the artists they represent.
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