Tim Gant, A Man Who Followed His Dreams and it Paid Off! By: Rob Smittix

Written by on January 4, 2022

RRX: How are you doing?

TG: I’m good.

RRX: My bass player moved to Montana and he was flying back in for a show we were going to and unfortunately due to COVID the show was cancelled. So, because of that we haven’t played since December of 2019. 

TG: Unfortunately, the whole COVID thing did that to a lot of events. But now I’ve been playing, and things really got super busy from late spring, all through summer and even up to around the end of September. I was doing two and three gigs a day. It was like everybody was trying to make up for all that time. It was funny that as busy as it was now it’s cold and we slowed back down.

RRX: But on a happy note, I’m glad we get to talk and catch up.

TG: Oh yeah. I got a little bit of extra good news a couple of days ago that a tune I recorded, a tune I played on with Ten City got nominated for a Grammy. 

RRX: It doesn’t get any bigger than that!

TG: That’s amazing. Hoping for the best for that and keeping it going.

RRX: I mean even a nomination is good enough, you know? They introduce people as Grammy nominated. You know what I mean? You don’t have to win. But you’ve had a lot of success over the years. I know you recorded this with them but what’s your relation to Ten City?

TG: I’ve been involved with them for like 25 years. Yeah, I’m always involved in some things they might do. Shows here and there when they come up. The lead singer Byron Stingily has always been recording even after the group technically split up. So, he’s got several projects out and they’ve done pretty good for him. 

RRX: I was always amused by some of the stories you’ve shared with me, being into music so much myself. Now Ramsey Lewis is a group that you’ve been playing with as well. 

TG: Yeah, I was with Ramsey for 12 years. He retired, our last show that we did was January of 2020. He technically retired a little earlier than that but he had obligated himself to do these two shows, both in Cozumel. It just required us flying to Cozumel for an actual jazz cruise. Fly down there and get on the boat for two shows and then jumping off before it took off. So, we did that in January, we were supposed to do it again in March and after we did January Ramsey decided that he was done, he didn’t want to do it anymore. So, he cancelled but ironically the virus hit.

RRX: It would’ve been cancelled anyway. But yeah… what a legendary group to be performing with all those years. I know, I talked to you years ago and you were going to Japan, you probably got to see a lot of the world with the type of acts that you toured with. 

TG: Well, my real first touring experience was leaving Chicago with a local band and going to Japan. We were a national act, but we weren’t nationally known. What made us national was that back in the day Anheuser Busch used to sponsor a band competition, a battle of the bands basically and it was called The Budweiser Showdown. Groups competing from all over the U.S., they had as many as 30,000. We beat out all of those and came to the finals in DC, now there are only five bands. Us being from Chicago, there was another band from Richmond, Virginia that came in second, there was another band from some place in Georgia, another from LA and I can’t remember where that other band was from. But at any rate we ended up winning, signed a record deal with Warner Brothers, ended up doing some Budweiser commercials, television appearances, Lou Rawls Parade of Stars, which was a big deal back in the day. So yeah, a lot of good things came from that but one of the best things that came out of that for me was a buyer from Japan was given the chance to see us and we got the chance to audition for them and actually go over there and play. 

RRX: Man, out of all of those acts you took the prize.

TG: It’s weird you know? This is why I really understand this whole American Idol, The Voice stuff, you know I love to hear the talent, I love that part of it but the part of it when they get to picking a winner.

RRX: Yeah, a lot of it is image. 

TG: It’s not fair if you’re dealing with talent but the band that came second to us musically, they won, to me. Awesome musicians, great arrangement and nice original material. To show you how good that band was, their drummer was Carter Beauford from Dave Matthews. Me and the keyboard player are still very good friends till this day and I used to have Carter’s number but it changed a few times. Last I talked to him, he was a real great dude. But yeah, we had a nice image, we had a real handsome lead singer up in front. 

RRX: It helps. 

TG: Of course. I was happy to take the trophy, I wasn’t turning it down, but I understood what had happened. So, when I watch these shows I see the same thing. 

RRX: Oh yeah, all the time. 

TG: The recognition was cool, but I learned that I could make a good living doing this. 

RRX: And you have. I know that you’ve had a chance to record and write for some pretty well-known artists and one of the names that stuck out for me when we last spoke was Aretha Franklin. 

TG: It was a really good experience. I had co-written a tune on her A Rose is Still a Rose album, a tune called “In Case You Forgot”. Ironically after you and I talked I actually played on two tunes from Sings the Great Diva Classics an all-cover album by Aretha Franklin. 

RRX: Cool. Which songs did you play on? 

TG: I did The Supremes “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” and I did the Alicia Keys tune “No One.” 

RRX: And you did something for Destiny’s Child too, I think? 

TG: Yeah, it’s funny that you mention that. I played on the remix of “Bills, Bills, Bills” and I was just talking to someone about that, and I asked what did that song ever do? And they said oh yeah, it went gold. I said it did? I was like nobody ever said anything to me. I said I would love to get my plaque. 

RRX: I would say so. So, I know we covered a lot but what would you say is one of your greatest musical achievements? 

RRX: There’s really nothing out there publicly to solidify that it happened but to make a long story very quick; when I was about 11 years old my brother took me to go see Earth Wind and Fire. It was the most invigorating and exciting thing ever. It’s like a kid that loves riding roller coasters. It’s like when it gets up to the top and it does that drop, it goes higher and higher then another drop and it keeps going, that’s kind of how I felt. I was the biggest EWF fan there was. Fast-forward years and years later when I was playing for Ramsey Lewis. Philip Bailey (Earth Wind and Fire) called us up and said he wanted to make a record and he said he wanted to use us. So, we recorded four or five tunes. So, while we were in the studio I had the opportunity to tell him the story I told you and to thank him. I said you influenced a little black kid from the West Side of Chicago to see the world and to pursue his dream. That meant a lot to me.

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