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For many years, John Tesh went virtually unrecognized as a musician and composer, instead enjoying television success as the co-host of the nightly show biz news magazine Entertainment Tonight; while his initial attempts to mount a recording career were met with scorn and ridicule, he had the last laugh on his detractors, rising to become one of new age instrumental music's biggest superstars. Born July 9, 1952 in Long Island, New York, Tesh began playing piano at the age of six; as a teen, he also played organ and trombone with local rock bands. After graduating North Carolina State University with a degree in music and communications, Tesh worked at a progression of television stations throughout the southeastern U.S., later graduating to the position of anchor at the CBS network's New York City affiliate. In 1981, he joined CBS Sports as a commentator, where he later won Emmy Awards for his Pan American Games theme and the theme to the Tour de France.
In 1986, Tesh left CBS to host the syndicated Entertainment Tonight with co-anchor Mary Hart; while television remained his primary focus, he continued writing and performing music, and in 1988 issued his first album, Tour de France. Critics panned his brand of melodramatic, orchestral new age music, but the success of further efforts, including 1989's Garden City, proved a growing audience existed for his work. In 1991, Tesh won another pair of Emmys for his music for NBC Sports' coverage of the World Track and Field Championships; a year later, he formed his own label, GTSP, and issued Romantic Christmas, his biggest hit to date.
Smashes including 1993's Monterey Nights and 1994's Sax by the Fire followed, and in 1995 Tesh's PBS special and album Live at Red Rocks emerged as something of a phenomenon. He soon left Entertainment Tonight to focus all of his energies on music, scoring successive hits with the likes of 1996's Sax on the Beach and its 1997 follow-up, Sax All Night. Grand Passion followed in early 1998, trailed a year later by One World and John Tesh & Friends. Pure Hymns was issued in fall 2000 and Pure Orchestra and Pure Gospel followed in early 2001. Classical Music for Babies (And Their Moms), Vol. 2 appeared later that spring.