I've been interested in music for most of my life. I also teach Thai massage, and founded Thai Bodywork School of Thai Massage in 2001.
I loved playing on the piano when I was very young, and mostly was as interested in the sounds I could make noodling around on the piano as I was in playing outside. My parents would have dinner parties with their friends and I would typically be in the basement on the ancient upright, fascinated by chords and intervals that made me feel things, without any understanding of what they meant.
My innate love of piano was put into hibernation by torturous lessons with a dull spinster who managed to teach the theory of music but none of its life. Fortunately, this was rescued later as an adult when I was able to study with a wonderful, colorful Hungarian woman who had studied with Bela Bartok and survived two world wars, often under occupation.
I bought my first guitar when I was 14. I learned by playing, listening over and over to talented players like Paul Simon, Leo Kottke, John Renbourne, Jorma Kokounen, Clapton, Jimmy Page, Mississippi John Hurt, Skip James, Jeff Beck, and many more. In those days we could always slow the LP down to play at 16 if some of Clapton's licks were too fast to figure out.
As a young man living in Chicago, blues was a ubiquitous and profound influence, not just on me but on many of the British rockers that I loved. Blues lead me to jazz, and I started listening to Gary Burton, Stephane Grappelli, Django, many of the ECM european jazz artists, Chick Corea, and Miles.
I think I first heard of John Mclaughlin via his involvement in the electric Miles bands. This was a mind-blowing revelation to me. I had never heard anyone play like that. I began doing yoga the summer before I started college at the University of Chicago, and I found his My Goal's Beyond album to be an incredible fusion of Indian traditional music and the western jazz that had been McLaughlin's start.