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Keyboardist's music attracts legions of fans


Mention that you like Yanni to someone who has a passion for music and you're likely to get a disconcerting look in return.

Love him or hate him, there's no denying that the New Age keyboardist is one of music's great success stories.

The moustachioed instrumentalist has sold more records than Miles Davis, and the number of people who have seen him perform rivals attendance figures posted by some of rock's biggest names.

Another 7,185 people will see him perform a sold-out concert Sunday night at TECO Arena.

Yanni Chisomallis was born in Kalamata, Greece, in 1954. By the time he was 6, music was an important part of his life. In his teens, another passion took over - swimming.

In 1969, Yanni broke the Greek national swimming record in the men's 50-meter freestyle. Seven years later, he graduated from the University of Minnesota with a bachelor of arts degree in psychology and began playing keyboards for the popular Minneapolis-St. Paul rock group Chameleon.

He later split from the group and embarked on a solo career that would see him win Grammy awards, sell millions of records and perform in front of some of the world's most historic places including the Taj Mahal, the Acropolis and China's Forbidden City.

The News-Press spoke with Yanni about his world-wide appeal, playing in a rock band and, of course, his hair.

Q You went to school in Minnesota. What was it like adjusting to life in the States and the cold weather?

A I never experienced weather below 30 degrees, so when I got there, I thought about turning around immediately. It took me about six months to learn how to dress.

Q How did you first get into music?

A I think I was about 6 or 7, but my parents discouraged me from trying to make a living out of it. After college, there was a fork in the road, and I told myself that I'd give music one year.

Q You had been composing since you were a teen, so what was it like playing with a group?

A It was a lot of fun and a lot of work. My drummer from Chameleon is still with me. After college, I began playing with rock bands - heavy metal mostly. At the time, though, I was listening to a lot of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Yes and Genesis. I'm really open-minded. I listen to everything, especially when I'm traveling.

Q My mother is a big fan. Are your concerts jammed with middle-aged women?

A Not at all. The crowd is mostly over 25 and from all different ethnic backgrounds. You'll find grandmas and guys with tattoos in there, too.

Q You live in Florida and play concerts all over the world. What country has the best audiences?

A The Latins are great, because they're real expressive. They come to the show warmed up, and they seem louder. I was told the Chinese were reserved and proper, but that couldn't be further from the truth. The Australians are also great, and Sydney is one of my favorite cities to play.

Q What's you favorite food?

A I like Italian and Asian cuisine, but my mother's Greek food is the best.

Q For our follicularly challenged readers, as a man of nearly 50, you have remarkable hair. Any tips on hair products?

A I don't use anything special. I'm just glad I have hair at this age.
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Smiler Great article, YMusicMuse.
I really enjoyed this one.

Be well ~
Registered:: December 17, 2002Report This Post
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