The Music Industry From Inside Out

Rickey Minor — guitarist, music director, composer, producer — has been a presence on the music scene for decades, always in demand for his remarkable talent, full commitment to the project, 100 percent reliability and complete honesty

He is currently bandleader/music director for “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” having replaced Kevin Eubanks, and prior to that he assumed the same position on “American Idol.”

Minor is a fountain of knowledge and shared it in great detail in his book that was published a while back. The autobiography is titled “There’s No Traffic on the Extra Mile.” He chose that title because it is indicative of one of his philosophies: When you are hired for a job, always give the person more than they were expecting. It is a giant step toward job security.

Minor’s book is must reading for anyone who plans on entering the music industry and anyone who wants to familiarize themselves with the ins and outs not only of the music industry but show business as a whole. It is also a book about life, period.

WHEN MAJOR stars want the best when they go out on tour, Rickey Minor is often at the top of their lists. Alicia Keys, Whitney Houston, Christina Aguilera, Beyoncé and Ray Charles are among those who have recruited Minor for tours, because they knew nothing could be left to chance.

Minor has also served as musical director for such major events as the Grammy Awards, the Super Bowl and the NAACP Image Awards.

Having been, in essence, mentored by none other than Quincy Jones, as well as Herbie Hancock, Minor also learned early on the importance of paying attention to detail. Very few people, as Jones has said, are willing to do that, which is another reason he took an interest in Minor. Jones, according to Minor, is “a mentor by his example.”

MINOR’S WORK ethic has been described as “prodigious,” a word that would also apply to Hancock, Stevie Wonder and a select few others.

Preparation and patience are two virtues that Minor expounds on wherever there is a willing listener.

“Having the vision to see yourself living your dream is essential, but that’s just the start,” he said. “You’ve got a lot of work to do. Your dream will stay just that and never get off the ground if you don’t follow up with planning and action.

“Today we live in an age of instant gratification. We want it now. We want it fast. We want it super-sized. But the saying ‘patience is a virtue’ did not come out of thin air. The same can be said for another unpopular truth: ‘No pain, no gain.’”

HE CONTINUED, “I talk and talk about the importance of preparation. When you have done all the proper groundwork and planning, things will unfold just as you envisioned, right? Sorry, I wish that were the case, but that happens only in a perfect (and infinitely more boring) world.

“Get used to the fact that everything you plan, with the best intentions, won’t go the way you expect. This doesn’t mean don’t plan. Instead, be ‘bendable’ so you won’t be breakable. When you’re flexible, you have the capacity to handle the spontaneous things that can and will happen.”

LIKE SO many veteran musicians and singers, Minor embraces new technology, sometimes out of necessity as much as desire. Much, if not most, of music today comes up short in certain respects due to lack of the human element. Gone are the days when a studio full of musicians actually recorded with the artist present. Musicians are not in the studio together much either.

In an interview with BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc., the organization that is focused on music rights management, distributing royalties, etc.), Minor said, “I really miss human interaction. The music we hear now is suffering because of it. People are making music in their garage or their house, and they’re sending tracks over the Internet to this or that person. It’s been so long since I’ve done a session where other musicians were actually in the room.”

THERE ARE times when artists, especially new artists, have to do a balancing act, so to speak, with regard to taking good advice and being true to themselves, which ties into something Minor has to say regarding “American Idol” contestants and the judges:

“Fear and doubt creep in when you start believing everything that is being said about you, both the good and the bad, especially the good. You get ahead of yourself. You think, ‘I am what everyone says I am.’ That’s the biggest mistake.

“If I see someone I am working with going down the wrong path, I try to catch them before they make a mistake. But sometimes you have to let people go ahead and tank. They may nod their head in agreement when I tell them, but often they haven’t really gotten it, and I’ll probably have to sit them down and talk it through again.

“After that second talk, my job is finished. There’s nothing more I can do. It’s up to that person to recognize the problem and start dealing with it. But for some, it’s a hopeless cause. They come in with their attitudes already deeply ingrained, and there’s no way I can crack through that layer of concrete.”

RICKEY MINOR received “maximum praise” from Motown legends Smokey Robinson and Steve Wonder.

Robinson said, “Rickey is a consummate musician and a wonderful man. I know that whenever he’s involved in a project, my music is going to be perfect.”

To which Wonder added, “It takes more than just talent to be a successful person. It also takes love, passion, commitment and caring. Rickey is a friend and a God blessing.”

“There’s No Traffic on the Extra Mile” can be ordered at

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