?uestlove has a pretty sweet gig these days, doing double-duty as the drummer for his Grammy-winning group the Roots and the “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” house band. But as with any talented star, it took a lot of practice to get him to where he is today. On the latest episode of “When I Was 17,” the musician remembers being really attached to his first keyboard.
After seeing a classic episode of “The Cobsy Show” that featured a cameo by the legendary Stevie Wonder playing a keyboard with a sampler, ?uest says his life was changed forever. That episode inspired him so much he asked for a similar keyboard for Christmas. Once he got the instrument, the teen (born Ahmir Khalib Thompson) carried it everywhere, making it a part of his routine at school.
“It was my job to make beats during the lunchtime period,” the Philadelphia native recalls on Saturday’s episode, airing at 11 a.m. ET on MTV. This was really a good thing for him and his tablemates because before the keyboard, he “used to just bang the table, 45 minutes straight.”
So with the sampler by his side, he had a new lunch-hour job. “When I brought the sampler in, my job was easy, ’cause all I had to do was just press that beat,” ?uestlove explains. “That way I could eat my food, do whatever I had to do and keep the beat.”
And it turns out that keyboard changed his life in a lot of ways. As he puts it, playing music for his high school classmates was “how I sorta got inducted into cool-guy territory.”
“When I Was 17″ — this week featuring ?uestlove, Christina Perri and Vanessa Simmons — airs on Saturday at 11 a.m. ET/PT on MTV.