THE MEN BEHIND THE MUSIC - TOM HENSLEY: PIANO/KEYBOARDS
Tom Hensley is the larger than life piano playing eccentric of the Neil Diamond band, his colourful outfits easily make him stand out, but don’t be fooled by his goofing around, he is a seriously accomplished musician, writer, and arranger, collaborating on a number of Neil’s biggest hits.
Tom started his music career playing piano in restaurants around Bloomington, Indiana, where he grew up, he began piano lessons at aged six, but wanted to learn many other instruments, he tried to play bassoon for his high school band, but he states, “I could never get the thing assembled, I tried string bass, playing in a bluegrass band, but gave that up also, as I didn’t like what it did to my fingers, he says, adding, it was too darn big for my car also, by the time he graduated he was playing in small jazz groups and big bands. In college he was named best pianist at the Notre Dame intercollegiate jazz festival, after moving to Los Angeles in 1970, where he still lives with his wife, he subbed in the pit for the musical “Hair” where strangely enough, Reine Press, was conductor, and his wife Linda was performing, little did he know that he would forge a long standing friendship and working relationship with them as part of Neil Diamond’s band for nigh on forty years.
After being made redundant from a TV game show, Tom was moping around, it was then Neil asked, would he liked to join the band, to which Tom recalls, his exit from the game show became his greatest career break.
Tom Hensley has backed some of the biggest names in music, The Beatles, Hall and Oates, the Osmonds, David Soul and Cher,
Tom likes to listen to classical music, bluegrass, traditional irish and other stranger ethnic varieties,
His favourite Neil Diamond song are The last Picasso, Holly Holy and Lady Magdalene.