The set of Emeril Live wouldn't be complete without the sounds of the show's lively band: band leader and percussionist Leonard "Doc" Gibbs, keyboardist Cliff Starkey, bassist Charles Baldwin, drummer Ted Thomas, Jr. and saxophonist Louis Taylor. They entertain thousands of adoring fans, produce unusual sound effects right on cue and best of all, bring out Emeril's own musical talent. Outside the confines of the studio, these musicians also produce magic in their own solo careers.
Leonard "Doc" Gibbs
"Doc" Gibbs is legendary within musical circles for his funky rhythms and use of unusual percussion instruments. Doc's penchant for hand drums and percussion instruments began in the early 1970s when he left the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art to pursue his dream of becoming a master percussionist. Doc caught the attention of the music industry's top artists and over the years, has toured and recorded with Anita Baker, Whitney Houston, Bob James, Ricki Lee Jones, Al Jarreau, Grover Washington, Jr., Wyclef Jean, Erykah Badu, Eric Benet and R&B producer James Poyser. Gibbs received his nickname "Doc" from the late, legendary jazz saxophonist Grover Washington, Jr. after recommending an herbal remedy for Grover's nasty cold that led Grover to declare, "There's two doctors in Philly: Dr. J [of the '76ers] and Doctor Gibbs." Playing with the Emeril Live band since 1997, he shares the musical credits for the show's spicy rhythms with his fellow band members.
Born in Philadelphia on March 19, 1963, Cliff grew up admiring such musicians as Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock. Though he didn't have a piano, Cliff taught himself how to play and developed a unique improvisational style that has taken him around the world. Along the way, Starkey developed songwriting skills and learned to sing and adapt to various styles of music. For the past 20 years, Starkey has performed with such notable artists as the Three Degrees, the Temptations and Pieces of a Dream. He is a Capitol Records recording artist and appears on several albums. Besides performing on Emeril Live, he tours with the Groovemasters.
Ted Thomas, Jr.
Hailing from a family of gospel musicians, this Portsmouth, Va., native beat his first music on a table at 18 months and began playing drums for a choir at age 7. After a year at Norfolk State University, Ted left Virginia for Detroit, Mich. He immediately landed several gospel recordings, leading to performances with the off-Broadway play You Arms Are Too Short to Box With God, starring Jennifer Holiday and later Patti LaBelle. As a drummer and drum programmer, Ted has worked with Jon Lucien, "Doc" Gibbs, Patti LaBelle, Earl Klugh, Jill Scott, Sean "P-Diddy" Combs, James Poyser, BeBe and CeCe Winans, Dave Koz, Kirk Whalum and others. He's also a co-writer of the spicy tunes on Emeril Live.
Charles Baldwin began playing electric bass in Philadelphia at the age of 14, learning most of his skills from various method books. At 21, Charles started playing at local clubs on a part-time basis while holding down full-time jobs. Seven years later Charles decided to pursue a full-time music career, kicking off his career with several Philadelphia and New York-based artists. A dedicated and well-respected bassist, Charles also composes music for R&B, pop and jazz.
Louis R. Taylor, Jr.
Louis Taylor was born in Philadelphia and began playing the saxophone at the age of 10. During his musical journey, he has performed or recorded with an assortment of musical greats. The list includes but is not limited to the late Phyllis Hyman, Teddy Pendergrass, the Dells, the Stylistics, the Temptations, Rolls Royce, Pure Soul, the Spinners, Lou Rawls, Jerry Butler, BeBe Winans and Aretha Franklin. The list also includes jazz greats Stanley Clarke, Charles Fambrough, Bobby Watson, Al Jarreau, Joey DeFrancesco, Dexter Wansel, Orrin Evans, Duane Eubanks, Pieces of a Dream, Odean Pope, Ray Mantilla and John Lewis of the Modern Jazz Quartet. Louis was also honored to perform with jazz violinist John Blake at the Grover Washington tribute concert, sharing the stage with contemporary jazz saxophonists Gerald Albright, Najee and Kirk Whalum. Louis can be heard on his first solo release titled "Kaleidoscope."