Becoming a musician had no real beginning for Ted Lennon, in the sense that music has always surrounded him. His dad, Tom, played rhythm guitar in the 60’s band The Other Half, which opened for Van Morrison (Them), The Yardbirds and The Doors. When Tom was drafted to the army, the band dismembered and he became a family man. His five children enjoyed evening sing-along’s and campfire serenades, plus family concerts with Tom’s cousins and America’s “Apple Pie Quartet,” The Lennon Sisters (who appeared weekly on the Lawrence Welk Show). When Ted’s uncles continued the musical legacy with their band Venice, music began to feel as accessible as any family business.
It wasn’t until Ted was in college in Santa Barbara that the seed of music planted as a child, would begin to sprout. He found himself becoming further and further engrossed in his music classes and songwriting, often skipping core studies to write songs on the bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Undiscovered fellow songwriter, Jack Johnson lived down the street in S.B. so they would get together for impromptu jam sessions, which then became intimate shows in downtown S.B. at places like Roy and SOHO.
As Ted neared graduation, he decided what he needed to learn could not be taught in a classroom nor found in a book. Nonetheless, in Spring of ‘99 he earned his degree in the Arts, then made a radical decision to move into an abandoned oil refinery to be alone with his mind and his music.
The USA Gasoline refinery belonged to his friend’s father and had been shut down since 1976 (the year ted was born). Amongst the creaking metal hardware and rusted oil tanks, Ted made his home in a stock warehouse, playing drums and piano and developing his voice. He spent his days in a state of timeless pondering, available to every whim and wind of inspiration. He recorded his first songs in empty oil tanks, which provided natural reverb and a haunting stillness.
After three months of his sabbatical, Ted packed his guitars up and took his music on the road – a backroads summer tour that took him from the warmth of his Ojai, California hometown across the U.S. to ‘the capital of the world’: New York City.
Along the way, he slept in his Volvo station wagon and played street corners, learning the art of busking from a 70-year-old banjo player named ‘Old Man Joe’ in Madison, Wisconsin.