Over 36 million people invite John Tesh into their home almost every day, as his Intelligence for Your Life radio and television program gives people tips on how to be healthier, more productive and happier.
On Saturday, April 29, Tesh will create that “living room feel” in person, when he comes to the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center. Tesh will be at the grand piano, accompanied by a bassist, saxophonist and a guitarist.
“The show will be a four-piece band, all acoustic,” says Tesh, who has six music Emmys, two Grammy nominations, three gold records and 8 million records sold to his name.
Tesh realized his passion for music at an early age. Growing up in Garden City, he went to the public Stuart Avenue School. “It was almost like a music conservatory,” he says of his elementary education. Tesh played trumpet in the orchestra and in the marching band. At home, he learned piano, studying with teachers from The Julliard School.
His parents are from Rural Hall, North Carolina, a small town in the foothills of the Appalachians. They fostered his love of music. “I would have to sit at the piano for two hours before going out to play,” he recalls. When he wasn’t pursing music, he would make up shows and productions in the basement.
“My parents were convinced that I would starve to death,” he laughs. So, he studied physics at North Carolina State University. “But, eventually your passion emerges.”
Tesh took a television and radio course at North Carolina State. After graduation, he became a news anchor and reporter, taking jobs across the country until he eventually landed on Entertainment Tonight, which he co-hosted from 1986–1996. He became well known for reading celebrity birthdays.
Tesh always knew he wanted to pursue music, but he couldn’t get a record company to sign him. After watching a PBS special featuring the Three Tenors, he had the idea of doing something similar. “I called PBS and asked them, what do you think? And they said, if you do a special, we’ll test it,” he recalls.
He and his wife, Connie Sellecca, took out a second mortgage on their house to fund the concert. The date was set for August, 1994. The gamble paid off. Tesh played the grand piano with the 70-piece Colorado Symphony Orchestra, as well as with a four-piece band. “Four songs into the set, it started pouring rain,” says Tesh. The orchestra left. Tesh, his band and the audience stayed. People were holding onto their umbrellas, so instead of clapping, they would pump their umbrellas into the air, recalls Tesh. As the rain let up, the moon came out. “Nature gave us a free fog machine,” he says.
A few months later, PBS tested the Live at Red Rocks special on Maryland public television. “It blew up,” says Tesh. “I think people really connected with us, and having to perform against the elements.” Tesh has gone on to create seven public television specials, raising more than $20 million for PBS.
“The Red Rocks show enabled me to leave TV and pursue music,” he says. “I’ll talk about that on stage.” The audience will be very involved in the Westhampton Beach show, says Tesh, comparing the experience to inviting everyone into his home. “It’ll be music and storytelling.” He’ll walk them through his journey, which has led to both his musical career, and his syndicated Intelligence for Your Life program. He produces the show from his guesthouse in Los Angeles with his wife, who hosts many of the health segments.
“There’s not much of a rudder on our ship,” he says of what can be expected at the WHBPAC show. “We drift around a bit.”
Tesh plays WHBPAC, 76 Main Street, Westhampton Beach, Saturday, April 29 at 8 p.m. For tickets and other info visit whbpac.org or call 631-288-1500