Tesh was a musician first

October 02, 2008|By JULIE E. GREENE

Younger people probably recognize John Tesh's voice from his "Intelligence for Your Life" radio show.

People in their mid-20s and older might remember him from co-hosting "Entertainment Tonight" with Mary Hart.

If you didn't know already, Tesh has a successful music career that brings him to The Maryland Theatre on Saturday night.

Tesh, who plays keyboard, will bring dancers and singers. In addition to songs from his "Alive: Music & Dance" CD, he will perform songs from his public TV shows. Most of his music is original; he also performs arrangements of covers.

The show is a combination of classical, romantic, rock 'n' roll and jazz, said Tesh, 56, who lives in Sherman Oaks, Calif. "We think of it as passionate music, music that can move you forward in your life," he said.


Those not familiar with Tesh's musical work might recognize "Roundball Rock," the theme music for "The NBA on NBC," in the 1990s. To hear it, go to and search for "Roundball Rock." Nelly used part of the tune in his "Heart of a Champion" from his 2005 "Sweatsuit" album.

The basketball theme also was used during some of the basketball coverage for this summer's Olympic basketball games.

"That song was written literally in five minutes. I sang the entire theme into my answering machine at home. When I got home I wrote it on the piano," Tesh said.

He sent it to NBC under a pseudonym because he wasn't being taken seriously as a musician at the time. "By the time they had figured out it was me, it was too late. The panel had selected it," Tesh said.

Tesh performs live for approximately 250,000 people a year and his radio show reaches 8.5 million people, yet he knows he still is ridiculed by some people who cannot separate his musical career from his days as a "talking head" for "Entertainment Tonight."

But music has been a big part of Tesh's life since he was a child.

In addition to playing piano, he played trumpet for his school orchestra; and keyboard, trombone and Hammond organ in garage bands.

"I was born in '52 on Long Island. Pretty much up and down the block everyone was in a garage band, and everyone wanted to be The Beatles," Tesh said.

One of his bands, the Rubber Band, would compete for gigs with Billy Joel's band.

"It wasn't much of a competition," Tesh said. "We were both on Long Island at the same time and you compete for the proms and the school dance. His band was called the Hassles, and if his band couldn't do it, our band got the job."

If you go ...

WHO: John Tesh

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 4

WHERE: The Maryland Theatre, 21 S. Potomac St., downtown Hagerstown

COST: Tickets are $45 to $115. The $115 tickets include a VIP meet-and-greet invitation with Tesh at Duffy's on Potomac, across the street from the theater, from 5 to 7 p.m. Includes autographs, photos and complimentary hors d'oeuvres.

CONTACT: For tickets, call 301-790-2000, go to, or stop by the theater box office from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays or from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

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