Author: Campbell, Teddy
Date published: March 1, 2012
In the September 2005 issue of MD, we asked Teddy Campbell what in his background enabled him to cover the remarkable range of music he had to perform on American Idol.
I grew up in church, playing strictly gospel music. I think that's the best school ever, because not only does your pocket get strong in that setting, your awareness of what's going on around you improves, because you have to pay attention to so many things in church. You've got to watch the director. You've got to listen to the music, support the band and singers, and watch the preacher. It's not just showing up and playing. You have to be very attentive. And spiritually too, you've got to be in tune with what's happening. If the spirit is trying to move to a worship mode or to more praise and aggressive music, you've got to be able to switch over.
Also, growing up, I only played gospel music, but I was a fan of music, period. I always listened to a lot of music. From the time I was fourteen years old, I started getting into other types of music, and that's when I first heard players like Vinnie Colaiuta, Dave Weckl, Will Kennedy, and Steve Gadd. Up until then, I only knew church music. Of course, I knew there was a whole other world of music out there, but I never needed it. When I got old enough to understand and be interested in other music, that's when I started finding out about different cats. From then on, I always listened to a lot of different music.
I listened to jazz and R&B. I was a '70s guru-I wanted to play everything from the '70s. I wish I had been around for that era. Oh, man. The Marvin Gaye stuff was so funky, the Parliament stuff, Earth, Wind & Fire, all the Motown stuff-which was a little earlier than the '70s. But all that stuff was so funky.
I always had music in my head. And when I was living in a house, as soon as I got home from school, I didn't even do my homework, [laughs] I just got on the drums and played until my mom came home from work. I had about three hours a day to practice, blazing away to Dave Weckl, Vinnie Colaiuta, and Will Kennedy with the Yellowjackets.