Rickey Minor: In the Limelight
But there's one guy of vital importance to the show who isn't so well known. Most of the time he stays in the background. But there wouldn't be any Idol music without him. He's Idol's inhouse musical director -- Rickey Minor.
In 2005, the show ditched the cheesy karaoke-style pre-recorded tunes and brought in a live band to play behind the contestants. And Minor was the guy brought in to oversee the staff of 45 musicians, arrangers and copyists. I think it makes a huge difference having a live band. And this year, I thought the band sounded especially hot during Latin and Country weeks.
Minor was also responsible for getting some big-name stars to appear on American Idol, including Prince, Mary J. Blige and Al Jarreau.
Minor began his career on tour with Gladys Knight and the Pips. Later he worked with Lou Rawls and then Whitney Houston before she was famous. In the last 30 years, Minor has worked with a plethora of big-name artists, including Christina Aguilera, Stevie Wonder, Celine Dion, Beyonce, Alicia Keys, and Sting.
According to his IMDb page, Minor is a very busy music man. He has produced music for several special events, including the Grammys, MTV Movie Awards, and Superbowl XXXVI with the Boston Pops. And besides his gig on Idol, Minor is the musical director for America's Got Talent, and Celebrity Duets.
How does Minor unwind with this busy schedule? "My wife (of 22 years, Karen) and I walk most mornings, a few miles every morning. The thing that I love to do is garden, mostly flowers and trees, cutting hedges and pulling weeds. I just love being outdoors. On weekends I unplug."
And what does Minor listen to on his iPod? "Everything that I work on. In my car I listen to satellite, and I listen to pretty much jazz because I'm a jazz head. I'm a jazzer. It's the thing I love because there are no boundaries. You can play one note a million times and approach it differently every time, and no two solos are the same."
To read more of the Associated Press interview with Rickey Minor, click here.
Minor discusses his work with American Idol's finalists in this video clip.