Ahmir Questlove's Open Road

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  • INTERVIEWED BY:

    Canada Team

  • INTERVIEW LOCATION:

    Philadelphia, PA

  • AIRED ON:

    Public Television: Season 3

  • ON DVD:

AHMIR QUESTLOVE THOMPSON

Drummer
The Roots

“I don't know if anyone who's truly successful feels a sense of completion. I think it's just a constant mission to stay ahead.”

INTERESTS:

Music

THEMES DISCUSSED:

Chance Dedication Doubt Fulfillment Goals Hard Work Passion Planning Pressure Success Focus

FOUNDATION:

Being Creative

TAGS:

anxiety, chess, drumming, end result, Juilliard, longevity, making history, motivation, parents, practice, strategy, vision

BIOGRAPHY:

  • Started drumming at the age of two, got his first drum set when he was eight.
  • Would practice three to five hours every day as a kid.
  • Heard Grammy-winner Wynton Marsalis say he practiced eight hours a day and knew he had to step it up.
  • The Roots started out busking on the streets of Philadelphia, felt lucky if they made twenty dollars in a day.
  • After signing their first contract, band moved to Europe to tour, spent nights in two-star hotels.
  • Says he works an average of 18-20 hours a day—like a hamster, he’s always spinning his wheel.
  • Treats each new year like a game of Russian Roulette: take a risk, see if you make it through, take another.
  • Stresses the importance of “proper planning”—like a chess player, always be thinking 12 steps ahead.

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