Ann Delisi: Nabil Ayers reflects on music career during interview at Third Man Records

The music industry veteran spoke with Ann Delisi in October to discuss his impressive career and latest memoir.

Music industry entrepreneur, author and drummer Nabil Ayers.

Music industry entrepreneur, author and drummer Nabil Ayers joined Ann Delisi at Third Man Records in October to discuss his career and his latest memoir, "My Life in the Sunshine."

Rock drummer, music entrepreneur and author Nabil Ayers joined me in front of a live audience at Detroit’s Third Man Records recently to talk about his history as a musician, his experience running a record label and his latest book, “My Life in the Sunshine.”

The co-founder of Sonic Boom Records and current president of Beggars Group U.S. has over 30 years of experience in the industry. His memoir, released in June 2022, delves into his experience growing up in a musical family and his lack of a relationship with his famous father — vibrophonist Roy Ayers — as well as his self-consciousness around being biracial growing up in Salt Lake City and his life-long love of drumming, for which he received no formal training.

“I didn’t take drum lessons,” he said. “I wasn’t doing rudiments and exercises, I was just putting on my headphones and playing along to Kiss records.”

Listen: Nabil Ayers reflects on music career during conversation with Ann Delisi

He’s come a long way since then, growing into an accomplished musician and eventually building an impressive resume in music entrepreneurship, from running his own record store in Seattle to serving as general manager of the prominent UK independent record label 4AD and now, leading Beggars Group U.S., among many other accolades.

His latest book represents a culmination of three and a half years of writing and recording his life experiences, which he says helped him to heal old wounds related to his father’s absence.

“It got me to this point where I could see him on a screen and think like, ‘wow, I’m proud,'” he said, referring to the moment he saw footage of his father in the documentary “Summer of Soul,” around the same time he completed the book. “I leaned over to my friend and I said, ‘That’s my father, which I’ve never done.'”

The interview with Ayers took place in October, and was pressed directly to vinyl at Third Man that night. Listen to the full interview using the media player above.

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  • Ann Delisi
    Ann Delisi hosts Essential Music, the Essential Conversations podcast series and the Essential Cooking broadcast and podcast. Born and raised in the Motor City, Ann is a broadcaster, interviewer, producer, music host, storyteller and proud Detroiter.