My favorite thing about Faith Flix is being introduced to folks I’d never meet otherwise. so I was pretty excited last month when I got a message from Michael Warren, an actor from our movie The Good Book, asking if I knew the band David and the Giants? Of course! They were one of my favorite bands growing up. I went to their concerts every chance I got. He told me the drummer was a friend of his and asked would I like to interview him. Definitely! Then he told me not only was Keith Thibodeaux the drummer for David and the Giants, but he was also Little Ricky on I Love Lucy and Johnny Paul Jason on The Andy Giffith Show. I couldn’t wait to be introduced and to get to learn more about him. Now I’m excited to share with you the fascinating story of his life as a child actor as well as the amazing testimony of how David and the Giants went from rock band to Christian band.
Let’s start at the beginning. Tell us about your first television role and how you happened to land it.
Well, I was a professional drummer at the age of four years old on the Horace Heidt Show which was a touring big band variety show that had a hiatus in California. It came about that they were holding auditions for the I Love Lucy show for the part of their son Little Ricky. Lucy looked at me and said, “He’s cute .. but what does he do?” My dad said, “Well he plays the drums”, and so there was a drum set, and I played and drew attention from people on the set. Desi himself came over my way and began jamming with me on the drums, and he stood up, laughed, and said, “I think we have found Little Ricky”!
What was it like as a child working with Hollywood greats?
They were great! Lucy would tell the crew when I was on the set absolutely no cussing. They were both very complicated, talented, and passionate people who loved what they were doing and expected everyone else on the set to know what they are doing.
What was the greatest challenge with being a child star? The loneliness of being the only child mostly on the set. My teacher for the show was Catherine Barton who was just a wonderful lady and also taught Ron Howard on The Andy Griffith Show. I played his best friend Johnny Paul on that show and was awesome when I got to be with other kids and we could just play but our teacher Miss Barton was the best!
What advice would you offer to parents wanting their child to be a star?
If they have it in them, they will prosper in it. I would say pray hard about putting your child in show business. It is a fantasy world that if the parents are pushing it, and the child is not really into it, it could be damaging. Even if the child loves it, it can be devastating to them in auditions where they are rejected. Other advice I would give is to make sure you have a backup plan for what you want to do in life.
What led to the transition from TV star to rock band?
My parents divorced and we moved back to Louisiana which is where I was born and I pursued a music career. Played in local bands and then met David and the Giants when I was sixteen, who were at that time a rock band in Mississippi. We continued our friendship, and then three years later they asked me to join them as their drummer.
At this point in my life after my parents separated I wanted to be as far as I could be from the limelight of Hollywood. My father worked at Desilu studios and had an affair with a secretary there, and so I blamed all of our family problems as a result of moving to California with me.
Tell us about the transformation of David and the Giants from rock band to Christian rock.
I had my fill of sex drugs and rock and roll lifestyle and eventually became depressed and then suicidal. I had no purpose I felt, and nowhere to go. I believed in God but had traveled into darker interests and with the sex, drugs and all that went with that I cried out to God in my despair and said “If You can save me out of this pit, I will serve You” My mom invited me to some prayer meetings in my hometown, and I was saved and filled with the Holy Spirit and went back to the band and told them about my experience. I kept witnessing to all of the guys in the band, and eventually, they all were born again and believed in Jesus! From that point, we believed we could play our music and praise God at the same time with godly lyrics.
What keeps you busy nowadays?
I play with David and the Giants. We just recorded our first full studio cd since 1989 when I left for a while. The name of it is “What Are You Waiting For”. We still play and recently did a concert in Lakeland Florida with the band Petra, and in May of 2018 did a concert tour in the Philippines.
Do you have any upcoming projects you’d like to share about?
We began a company, trainee program and school in Curitiba, Brazil for Ballet Magnificat Brasil. We have a 3 story building and are almost finished with renovations and remodeling. Our Ballet Magnificat USA will be touring Europe in April and May 2019 and another of our companies will perform in Cuba and Mexico.
Other than that Kathy and I love spending time in Nashville with our daughter Tara and our grandson Bryson!.
God is good and Faithful