Yanni is a self-taught pianist who began his musical career by giving recitals for family members though he had no formal training and could not read music. He was also a competitive swimmer in Greece and set a national record in the 50-meter freestyle competition at the age of 14. At the age of 18 he attended the University of Minnesota. While a student there, Yanni joined an up-and-coming local group called Chameleon where he met drummer Charlie Adams. Chameleon earned some modest commercial success touring throughout the Midwest, particularly in the states of Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois and South Dakota. After receiving a B.A. in psychology, he sought a life in music. He moved to Los Angeles, in pursuit of movie soundtrack work. In 1987 he put together a small band which included John Tesh and Charlie Adams, and began touring to promote his earliest instrumental albums, Keys to Imagination, Out of Silence, and Chameleon Days.