1921 - 2017

Thomas "TNT" Tribble

For more than 60 years drummer, singer, and bandleader TNT Tribble was a leading figure on Washington's live music and recording scene. Born in Georgia, in 1921 his family moved to Washington via Farrell, Pennsylvania in the early 1930. He attended Phelps Vocational High School and served in the U.S. Army during World War II, including a deployment to the Philippines. His 'TNT' nickname came from an Army platoon sergeant who could not pronounce 'Thomas Edward Tribble.'

Returning to Washington in 1946 TNT worked as a drummer behind his brothers Floyd and LeRoy in their respective bands. He was fronting his own band in late 1950 when Mrs. Lillian Claiborne of DC Records asked him to pair with the newly arrived Frank Motley to form an all-star group called The Motely Crew. By early 1951 they recorded for Gotham Records in Philadelphia and by September 1951 TNT had his own recording contract with RCA Victor. Two sessions were cut in New York with outstanding sidemen including Washingtonians John Malachi, and Frank Wess. The RCA releases were not successful and by late 1952 TNT was back at Gotham without the involvement of Mrs. Claiborne. He toured extensively through the mid-1950s with time in Washington, New England, and Miami, Florida. A record was released on Henry Stone's Chart Records out of Miami, and from this southern launching pad he made a tour of Cuba about December 1956.
Settling back in Washington in the late 1950s he teamed with the dynamic vocalist Phil Flowers and developed a night club routine. TNT and Flowers are especially remembered for their time at The Hayloft, but every few months TNT and competing bandleader, Chuck Booker, would rotate to different clubs on the 14th Street strip. In the 1960s they play frat parties for the local universities. TNT is especially remembered for his generosity in giving younger musicians and vocalist a start during the 1960 and 1970s. By the 1980s TNT was working with Eddie and Denise Daye at Jimmy McPhail's Gold Room and Gee's 4400 Club. TNT was recognized by The Washington Area Music Association in 2011. He passed away at the age of 95 in 2017.

Thomas "TNT" Tribble

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Courtesy of Jay Bruder. (L to R) TNT Tribble, Whiskey Sheffield, Harold Blair, and Melvin Lee at the Hayloft in the mid-1960s

“Here's the latest news, I've got to buy a television, my baby got the TV blues”

- TV Boogie Blues

Thomas "TNT" Tribble