Writing about himself in the third person is a bit convoluted, but if athletes can do surely a Muzoid can.
It was never Tom's life goal to spend 25 years playing "I Am...I Said" every night. In fact, he became a musician by playing (usually being paid in pizza) in restaurants around Bloomington, Indiana, where he grew up.
He began piano lessons at the age of six, but always wanted to learn other instruments. He tried to play bassoon for his high school band but "I never could get the thing assembled. I tried string bass, briefly playing in a bluegrass band, but I gave that up too--I didn"t like what it did to my fingers, and it was too big for my car." By the time he graduated from high school, he was playing piano in small jazz groups and big bands most weekends. In college he was named "best pianist" at the Notre Dame Intercollegiate Jazz Festival.
He graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Radio and Television--a major he chose because he liked the equipment with the big knobs and VU meters. His degree, he proudly points out, allows him to choose the TV channel in his hotel room wherever he goes. After a 1970 move to Los Angeles, where he still lives with his wife Sarah (the children are now grown, she is a classical mezzo soprano), he subbed in the pit orchestra for "Hair." The future Presses (Reinie was conducting the production, Linda was disrobing in it) and Mr. Hensley hardly suspected that they would eventually wind up living together, kind of, for 25 years.
His first studio record date turned out an improbable hit --"Chick-a-Boom" by Daddy Dewdrop--and Hensley became a busy session keyboardist. Over the next few years he recorded with, among others, "half of the Beatles, both of Hall and Oates, most of the Osmonds, half of Starsky and Hutch (David Soul), and all of Cher."
He also played on two Neil Diamond albums, JONATHAN LIVINGSTON SEAGULL and SERENADE. When Neil resumed performing in 1976, he asked Tom to join the band. "At the time I was moping over losing a job playing on a dumb TV game show (excuse the redundancy) because I wouldn't cut off my beard, and this sounded like heaven." He now counts his exit from the game show world as his biggest career break.
During his years with the band, Tom has done his share of songwriting and arranging. He wrote "American Popular Song" and "a strange little almost-instrumental called ‘Jazz Time.'" With Alan Lindgren, he contributed "Love Burns," "Starflight," and "My Time with You," and the two served as Musical Directors of Neil's 1986 television special "Hello Again." They collaborated with Neil on "Headed for the Future," as well as "Long Hard Climb" from the current album. But he still can't assemble that damned bassoon.
In recent years, he and Alan Lindgren have produced music for multi-media shows in Asian theme parks as well as the score for "Thanksgiving Day," an NBC TV movie starring Mary Tyler Moore, Tony Curtis and Joe Montegna. He has written songs with biker-proto-punk legend Simon Stokes, a golfing buddy, several of which have been heard in somewhat obscure films.
In a typically bizarre move, he spent one summer doing a cabaret revue based on the works of Hoagy Carmichael. It featured six young singers with Tom playing piano, singing some Carmichael novelty songs, and telling stories about Hoagy (who was a friend of his father's and whom Tom met when he was quite young). Tom was also co-producer of the show. "I was made a producer because they couldn't afford to pay me, and I couldn't afford NOT to do a show about Hoagy," he explains of that unlikely credit.
Lately, Tom has been holed up in his studio in Sherman Oaks, working on a book and several CD projects which are naturally taking him longer than expected.