By Isa Jones
By Mary Willson
By Brian Turk
By Drew AIles
By Taylor Boylston
By Bree Davies
By Emerald O'Brien
TURNING THE OTHER CHEEK
JT: One of the things I learned on ET is that it doesn't pay to fight back, because it just makes things worse. If you're angry, you just need to put your head down, because no matter what you say, it's not going to make any difference. It's what you do, not what you say--and I know that it sounds a little corny, but what I do is go out and play before between 5,000 and 10,000 people a night.
WW: Do the attacks make you angry sometimes?
JT: The only thing that makes me angry is when a reviewer takes a review from another city off of the Internet or off of Nexus and plagiarizes that or uses the headline without referencing it. That, I think, is just lame, because I'm a writer. I can write: I've written reviews and I've written television copy, and I got an A in creative writing. So I can do it--and I can appreciate it even when the reviews are negative. I've called some of these guys and said, "You know what? I can tell that you hated the concert. But at least you described what the audience's reaction was." If they do that, then it's fine...Then again, the fact of the matter is, if an alternative-music reviewer returned to the newsroom with a good review of a John Tesh concert, he'd be drummed out of the business.
THE MUSIC THAT MADE THE MAN, OR YET ANOTHER REASON TO HATE YES
JT: I was a concert hog. I saw 36 Jethro Tull concerts in a two-year period when I was in college. I drove all the way from North Carolina State, where I was going, to Stowe, Vermont, to see them once. And Yes--I've gone even further to see them.
JT: We've got people who do follow us around, too. There's one couple in particular: Sam and Judy. Sam is an applied-physics director at Johns Hopkins and she's a schoolteacher, and they've seen six concerts already this year and a total of eighteen the past two years. It's really wild.
"...AND WE NAMED HER JOHNETTA"
WW: What are some of the things you've been told that people have done to your music over the years?
JT: Once, there was a woman who showed up backstage with, like, a one-year-old in a carriage. And she said, "Hi, Mr. Tesh, my name is Melissa. Do you see this baby?" And I'm like, "Um, yes." And she said, "You were very important in this baby's life." And I said, "I don't even know you, lady." But she said, "No, I don't mean anything like that. This baby was conceived to one of your songs, and then we played that song when she was born." And I was like, "Phew. Thanks."
JT: We were in Atlantic City, and these kids--they were about nine or ten--rushed the stage and started beating on the stage in the middle of this one song. And I was like, "Oh, no, these kids are goofing on me." But we got them backstage with their mom, and we found out that they'd already been to two concerts and they were really into the music.
WW: You don't get any moshing, do you?
JT: No, but in Atlanta, we got some people who stood on the tables and started dancing during this Spanish tune we do. I think they'd had a little to drink.
BUT THE LITTLE GIRLS UNDERSTAND
WW: You took a lot of hits for supposedly pumping up the drama when you hosted the gymnastics coverage at the Atlanta Olympics. Did you think any of those complaints were justified?
JT: I think I got caught with my drama up. I'm a dramatic person, and I like that quality. But the problem was, there were dramatic things happening at every other venue at the same time. So it got to be sort of a drama overload, and even Bob Costas was very public about how much he didn't like my commentary--which I felt was really lousy. But the just deserts in all this were that I got a call from Dick Ebersol [head of NBC Sports] last week, and he wants me to do two prime-time gymno shows in August and then Sydney in 2000. And I'm going to do it--and maybe I will temper the drama a little bit more next time. But through it all, Ebersol's been great. During the games, he would call me every night and say, "Do not read the reviews. The focus groups are huge. People love this. Don't change a thing."
THE BRAT PACK
WW: What about the knock against the commentators for putting too much focus on American competitors and ignoring the rest of the world?
JT: Maybe that's a criticism for NBC; I didn't see the whole games. But I'm actually more of a fan of the Russian girls than I am of the Americans. I think a lot of the Americans are spoiled.
PERRY FARRELL AND JOHN TESH: BROTHERS UNDER THE SKIN
WW: Do you wake up each morning, look in the mirror and say, "Thank God I'm not doing Entertainment Tonight anymore?"