the best known bold head in the business

Tony Levin is a musician for musicians. that's how many people call him. To get it straight, within the average music interested audiance, the name is  known, but not many people know, in which draw  to put it in. Only when he gets introduced by
Peter Gabriel live on stage, then some of us get the clue, and Tony gets the well deserved applause almost as enthusiastically as the one for the mastro. Within insider- and musician circles the boldheaded bassist is already a superstar for himself, a miracle on 4 strings and a brilliant genius. Specialists even call him the very best bass player of  present days. His bold head has advanced to an individual brand and it is known, that only Tony can play the famous   Chapman Stick  a 100%. Known for all those countless session work  and Live concerts with other famous artists, he still follows his own path with a solo carriere, nicely flowing beside all his other jobs. The  Tony Levin Band is his private baby, where he can develop his individual favours and practices a loveable self realization and this for many years.
"Pieces Of The Sun“ was Tony Levins third coup about two years ago, followed by the Live opus„Double Espresso" The last thing he's done, besides still touring with Peter Gabriel, was producing the new album of the  California Guitar Trio . And just by the way he stepped back into his old band King Crimson after a few years of abstinence. Not bad! Though all these aspects, understatement has always been one of the main character signs of this talented bassist and Stickman, who never put himself in a big light when working with wellknown artists like   Alice Cooper, Paul Simon, King Crimson and of course Peter Gabriel. So it's no surprise  that many people take off their hats in respect. But like I mentioned before, the average music listener sees Tony Levin still as the neccessary bandmember of a superstar. Tony says: " I'm not very good in judgeing myself. I only know, that I'm a devoted musician, whereby i don't care, if I'm the mainman, a soloartist, or just standing in the background within a rhythm section. I just love to play, that's all. And I'm not that famous, so that I have to build up a barriere between me and fans. No, actually I must never do so, to keep up this little resonance I get with my own music. To be on tour with Peter Gabriel is different of course. You can't function without a barriere. But when I'm on the road with my own band, we do everything to keep up the good contact to the audiance. This means also going out after an exhausting gig to write autographs and talk to fans. And it's fun. I get to know the most interesting people from time to time.
Indeed, the now 58 years old bassist takes care a lot of the Tony Levin Band    besides his session and touring work with other artists. Because only with TLB he can really do what he wants. In earlier solo records he went rather in a fusion orientated direction but changed the style of music in  rather progressive rock on Piece Of The Sun not without a certain touch of classical feeling, he always favored beside other draws. It's starting with the first track "Apollo", where a ballet of Strawinsky was in his head while composing the piece, he says. "You don't have to get me wrong. I don't wanna copy anyone. But the topic is a fantastic example therefore, that this track starts slowly and suddenly turns into a rocking vision. I've grown up with classical music, but have a certain love for progressive rockmusic. That's why I try to combine the two styles with each other. 
Tony Levin was born on june the 6th in a suburb of Boston/USA and started to play the contrabass aged ten and learned how to play tuba. "After so many years my memory has suffered a lot. A while ago, I even asked my parents, if they still knew, why it was specifically the contrabass, which I crabbed first with my hands. They said, that I did like the monster best from the very beginning. Today I'm pretty sure, it was a well done decision, because it didn't come from my intellect, it came from my natural me. I'm happy, that I never lost the pleasure to play over all these years. But I can remember,, which piece of music let me decide from one second to the other to become a musician. It was the instrumental track "Tequilla" (originally from   ‚The Champs’, 1958  for five weeks No.1 in the american Billboard Charts) It was the first ever record, I bought by myself." 

In  Highschool Tony Levin played the tuba in the school orchestra, mainly performing classical music. The peak of this chapter was a live appearance in front ot John F.Kennedy at the White House in Washington DC. Next was a stint at the Eastman-School-Of-Music in Rochester/NY and a membership in the Rochester-Philharmonie-orchestra. At the college he first met drummer Steve Gadd, who actually animated Tony to show interest for Jazz- and Rockmusic. IN 1979 Tony Levin moved to New York, where he founded the "AHA - the Attack Of The Green Slime Band" together with Don Preston of the Mothers of Invention. When the wish became big for more live performing he joined Peter Gabriel, whom he got to know through  Bob Ezrin . (With Bob Tony worked on Alice Cooper's album 'Welcome To my Nightmare' in 1975 and in 1973 on  Lou Reed's brilliant 'Berlin')
Tony: "At that time I toured with Paul Simon and Peter Gabriel at the same time, which was almost mad, because of the total different styles. I couldn't combine the dates anymore after a while, so in the end I gave Gabriel priority, because working for both artists was simply too much ." In this early days with Peter Gabriel, Tony started to play th
e Chapman-Stick , a 12 string instrument, played with both hands using the tapping techniques.
During the recording sessions with Gabriel Tony got to know Robert Fripp, who employed him first for his soloalbum 'Exposure' and straight after for his band King Crimson’.
In 1984 the devoted hobby photographer Levin published his first book entitled 'Road Photos', a collection of  selected Black and White shots, taken during concert trips with Paul Simon, Peter Gabriel and King Crimson. "I still do always have my camera, an Olympus Digital camera with me whereever I am. And when I've got the time, I take pictures from everything and everybody. I've got enough pictures again, to do a second part of 'Road Photos'  including a few funny and entertaining anecdotes from the road.. And I  hope to be able to publish it very soon. 

In the late Eightees Tony Levin worked with  Robbie Robertson, Laurie Anderson, YES and many others and was involved in countless album productions. First in 1996 the bassist released his solo debut 'World Diaries'. One year later the project   Terry Bozzio/ Tony Levin / Steve Stevens  developed and they released – ‚Black Light Syndrome’ – Stevens had got to fame as the guitarist of Billy Idol. Terry Bozzio is most known because of his work with Frank Zappa. This album was followed by one more about three years later Situation Dangerous’. "Between the three of us was a certain kind of harmony, a special vibe. That's why we had no concept for these records. We just stepped into the studio and starting playing, not knowing what the result was in the end. But the feeling showed us, that this was the only true way to do it. There was a constant battle between Terry and the other two of us. Terry is actually tending to drift away in his love for 12-tune music (a technique of compositions of european electronic music, which developed in the beginnung of 20th century.) So when he started do it, we left the room, first coming back, when he had stopped. We wouldn't let him go too far.

’Waters Of Eden’ was the second real soloalum of Tony Levin, released in 2000. And it was not put out on his own label but on Narada-Records. "the reason for that, was my lack of time to handle everything by myself, like marketing, promotion, stuff like that. And putting a record out only by myself it takes the salery of a complete Gabriel tour. This time I had given the release into different hands with profit sharing. And I don't need to look after so many things by myself."

Just after changing the century, Tony did another project with two musicians of the band Dream Theater They recorded two albums, which were named Liquid Tension Experiment 1’ und ‚2’ This is a classical example for progressive rock, but still aceptable for Heavy Metal Fans. 

Okay, two years later Pieces Of the Sun’  came out, the third  solorecording of Tony Levin. This CD and also the later released and current Cd "Double Espresso" you can buy in any good sorted recordstore or via the Website On this website you can view a large discography of the genius bassist. "For 'Pieces Of The Sun' Peter Gabriel allowed me to use one of his older songs, he never released by himself. I recorded it again. The other tracks on the album I did myself. Maybe I should mention, that this was the first longplayer, only me and my band  Jerry Marotta (dr), Larry Fast (synth) and Jesse Gress (git)  recorded. I'm proud of this album.“     CD's / Videos / Books / T-Shirts etc you can order  here.....

Tony Levins Solo Recordings

                                                                                   The complete  Discographie of Tony    h e r e

For his own project, Tony hasn't got that much time left, because he's  still constantly on tour with Peter Gabriel .for over a year nowUp’ Gabriel's  current CD wants to be promoted.The salesfigures ain't that great yet. But at least the concerts are mostly sold out. The insturments Tony uses on stage is a NS-Electric-Upright, a Cello, ein Music-man-5-String and the old Music-Man-Sabre-four string, and an older Gibson-EB2-Bass and of course the Chapman Stick. Exept that he's got  2 Trace-Elliot-Amplifiers, one Bass-POD and quite a few Effect pedals, compressions and a Big-Muff-tuner of Electro-Harmonix. But on the whole the bassist is still hanging on to the old instruments. "I surely try a little bit aroung with new types, but I'mstill pretty much happy with my usual equipment. But when I get something new inbetween my fingers, and I like it, then I'm gonna use it.“
In the past I did this with the  Warr-touch-Guitar. and a 3 string bass, which rather is a rarity. And I don't use it very often. I like it though. But it's more for the simple funk sound.For concerts with King Crimson and Peter Gabriel I need more options of course.

So what is Tony's true recepie what makes a good bassist? „Therefore, I do not have the perfect answer. You won't believe, but when I listen to a song, the very last thing I'm listening is the bass. I try to put the focus on the whole piece.That's why I don't prefer music of other bassists. Which doesn't mean, that I don't appreciate the music of other bassists. And of course I've been influenced by other bass players as well. I listen to something, hide it in the deepest memory of my braincells, and when I'm in the studio, it often comes back again.“

This Book  is written by Tony Levin, where he's telling funny and humouros stories and anecdotes from life in the studio and on the road. Between classical music, Jazz and Rock. You'll also find cartoons and cooking recipes. An entertaining funny lecture for fans, bassists and  those real artists of living.

The name Tony Levin stands for technical perfection and a maximum of creativity. (A musician for musicians), who always knew how to realize himself, whether through is own projects or in cooperation with other people. Too nice to be true. But has there never been anything in Tony Levin's musician live, something, what the king of 3, 4 or 12 strings  rather liked to have missed out on in the past? "Yes, there's been some things..." Tony says with a smile. "And I'm still laughing, when I remember it. It was on the 1980 tour of Peter Gabriel, when the band had to wear some sort of sunglasses with mirrored glasses. Because of the flashlights on stage, we were almost blind, and I didn't find my pedals in the dark. There were no lights on them at that time. So I used them incorrectly, and I received a terrible feedback. So every time I had to use the pedals I had to go down on my knees and handle the thing with my hands. It looked pretty stupid. And there was this other incident on the Secret-World-Tour, where we had this second crossed stage situatated a little underneath the other. And of course I once ran against one edge and injured my head. One roadie put Gaffa tape around my head, and I looked real funny. Later on I needed  stitches. But however, these are just those little amusing things, what makes life interesting.
But however, - over all... let's make music....

on stage with Peter Gabriel 2004

The Peter Gabriel Growin' Up Tournee is still lasting 'till July.Inbetween, Tony found the time to produce another Cd for the  California Guitar Trio, which is due in September. And one more thing has happened over the past months. Trey Gunn, who filled in for Tony in King Crimson a few years ago, has left again. And who is coming next to work with
Robert Fripp ? Of course... – Tony Levin...  the probably best bass player in the world...

Fall  2004

More Pictures  h e r e

all Tony Pics. by EBL/Musicmirror