The legendary Chuck Leavell has spent over 40 years with some of the biggest names on the planet including the Allman Brothers, Eric Clapton, George Harrison and for the past 32 years as musical director of The Rolling Stones.
Chuck played with Clapton on Unplugged, with Harrison on this on 1991 Japanese tour and his duties with the Stones including putting together the setlist with Mick Jagger.
Chuck is also a teacher, educating music students though the online platform irock.com.au and he is an environmentalist, having the Honorary Forest Ranger Award to his name.
Chuck Leavell joined us at Noise11 during the Stones 2014 Australia tour. This is 3 part interview.
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From solo shows and concerts with the Rolling Stones to recording sessions with John Mayer and helping the United Nations tackle global environmental issues, noted musician and avid tree farmer Chuck Leavell has a busy few months ahead of him.
Before things really get rolling the renowned rock pianist will share some of his favorite tunes, along with a lifetime of stories about playing with some of music’s greats, during an intimate show at Americus’ Rylander Theater Saturday night as part of the theater’s 15th Anniversary Presenter Series.
“It’s just a joy to play these types of theaters,” said Leavell of the gig. “I’ve played there before and just fell in love with the place. They have this impressive Steinway piano, too. It is going to be fun.” [...] Continue Reading…
Chuck Leavell, the 32-year veteran of the Rolling Stones band, gave Melbourne a two-hour history lesson in his only sideshow on the Stones Australian tour.
Chuck performed at Melbourne’s Cherry Bar in AC/DC to a capacity (200 people) audience. It was a rare opportunity to hear music from The Stones, Allman Brothers, George Harrison and Eric Clapton, in an extremely intimate environment.
Chuck told the stories of his times with some of the most famous acts in the world in a Q&A conducted by 3RRR’s Brian Wise. At times he was backed on sax by the Rolling Stones “new boy”, Tim Ries, who has been with the Stones for the past 13 years.
Leavell’s professional career started as a studio musician for Capricorn Records for the Charlie Daniels Band, The Marshall Tucker Band and Wet Willie. He was 17-years old at the time.
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The Rolling Stones bring their 14 ON FIRE tour to Australia and New Zealand!
The 9 date tour starts at the Adelaide Oval on Saturday 25th October, followed by two dates in Perth, then onto Melbourne, the iconic Hanging Rock, Sydney, Hunter Valley, Brisbane and finally Auckland on Saturday 22nd November.
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Among the movers and shakers who met in New York last week to talk about climate change was Chuck Leavell, a slight, soft-spoken sixty-two-year-old piano player from Georgia. Though better known for the moving and shaking he does onstage—since 1982, he has been the Rolling Stones’ main keyboardist—Leavell has become an influential voice on an array of reforestation issues around the world. Heads of state have yet to find much common ground when it comes to climate change, but they appear to agree about the Rolling Stones. Presidents, senators, and high-ranking ministers all happily engage with Leavell about Stones songs, and when he smoothly changes the subject to wind farms, or biomass in Brazil, they listen.
Leavell was attending the U.N. Summit as a member of the Global Restoration Council, a new entity backed by the World Resources Institute. Another member is Bianca Jagger, and on the eve of the summit they met with a few other environmentalists at the Mandarin Hotel. One visitor ventured, “You two must have some friends in common in the Rolling Stones,” which drew an icy stare from Jagger, her eyebrows cocked like drawn bows. (She and her ex have not remained close.)
“Acquaintances,” Leavell proposed.
Leavell’s interest in the world’s trees began when he and his wife, Rose Lane, inherited an eleven-hundred-acre farm in Georgia, in 1981. Chuck took a forestry-management correspondence course while he was on a Fabulous Thunderbirds tour, and started planting trees. Years of managing his own land as a mixed-use forest that is a hunting preserve and a tree farm has made him aware of the economic and environmental benefits of planting trees. He is one of only three people in the U.S. to be made an honorary forest ranger. (The other two are Betty White and Arnold Schwarzenegger.) “One of my proudest possessions is an original forest-ranger hat,” he said. “Like my man Pharrell wears.”
Did Leavell talk to the other Stones about trees?
“At first, there was a lot of head-scratching—‘What’s he going on about the trees again for? What’s that all about?’ ”—he said. “But, you know, they understand my commitment to these issues, and the fact is we’re all parents and grandparents, we’re concerned about our children and grandchildren’s future, and we all have hopes we can make positive changes in those regards.”
From the Mandarin, Leavell and his wife walked up Broadway to the reception for the Equator Prize awards, which was held in the soaring atrium of Avery Fisher Hall. There Leavell became involved in a discussion with several State Department officials about upcoming Stones dates in Australia, next month, and soon moved on to the deforestation of palm trees in Indonesia by palm-oil producers. Among the group was Charles Barber, who, until recently, was the Forest Chief at the State Department and now works for the World Resources Institute.
“People listen to Chuck,” Barber said. “He knows how to tell the story, without getting into the weeds on issues like the price of softwood lumber.” He added, “A lot of actors don’t want to talk about their acting experiences; they want to talk about the issues. But Chuck loves to talk about the music.”
The conversation kept drifting back to the Stones. Couldn’t Chuck get the band to represent the issues onstage, somehow?
“You mean, like, Mick goes, ‘I’m a tree, I’m a tree.’ ” Leavell expertly mimed Jagger’s frantic rooster strut, imitating a tree.
“Keith would just be, like, ‘Plant a fuckin’ tree.’ ”
Leavell has met three Presidents—Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush—but before the summit he had never met Barack Obama. “He could be more of an R. & B. guy,” Leavell said at Lincoln Center.
The following night, after dinner at the Waldorf, they did meet.
Leavell said, “Mr. President, wonderful to meet you. I play with the Stones!”
“I play piano with the Rolling Stones.”
The President replied, “You must be, like, the youngest guy in the group!”
Leavell is the co-founder of IROCKU.com. The New York City Department of Education has selected the platform to provide rock and roll workshops.
“I have been fortunate in my career in music to have recorded and toured with many incredibly talented artists including a host of rock superstars,” Chuck said in a statement to Noise11.com. “All these years I’ve had fans, musicians, and teachers constantly ask me ” how can I learn to play like that”? Well, here’s how! I developed IROCKU’s online rock piano lessons to share my passion for the piano and to pass on what I’ve learned from over 40 years of playing with rock’s superstars. IROCKU is a system designed to teach anyone how to play rock and roll on the piano and we have a very simple mission- make learning to play rock piano easy and fun.”
IROCKU.com is an interactive platform where students and teachers can converse online, get feedback, ask questions and learn the tricks of the trade from experts in the field.
Each IROCKU lesson is presented in 7 different levels. Beginners start with levels 1-3, intermediate players hone their skills with levels 3-5 and advanced players challenge themselves to play the licks of rock’s greatest keyboardists with levels 5-7. For students just starting out, the IROCKU online “note learner” teaches the core concepts of music.
For a sample lesson, please visit: http://www.irocku.com/registration/
Ramblin’ and Rollin’: An Evening with Chuck Leavell at the Rylander Theater in Americus, GA – Sept 20
The Friends of the Rylander Theatre Present
Ramblin’ and Rollin’: An Evening with Chuck Leavell
Saturday, September 20th at 8pm
Kick off the 15th Anniversary Friends of the Rylander Theatre Presenter Series with an award winning concert event!
Grammy winner Chuck Leavell is best known as the keyboard/piano player for The Allman Brothers Band, The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, George Harrison, John Mayer, and many more. This concert event will feature the legendary piano man in a storyteller setting, sharing tales from the road, and singing the songs that highlight his many years as an entertainer. For more info: www.chuckleavell.com
Tickets are $25 Reserved Seating / Box Office Hours: Tues–Fri, 11am–4pm
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Chuck Leavell spends a lot of nights together with the Rolling Stones. But the veteran piano player, who has been a de facto member of the legendary rock ’n’ roll band for more than three decades, gets just as much satisfaction from trees.
When he’s not playing with the Stones or other stars such as Eric Clapton and Greg Allman, Leavell manages a 2,900-acre tree farm and hunting lodge in Georgia that he runs with his wife. “I have a deep love of both things, working in the studio or on the stage, and working in the woods and entertaining our clients,” Leavell says. “Both have challenges and rewards.”
Leavell, 62, has long had to balance the demands of his business with those of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. When the Stones are touring—several months every few years—he’s on the road playing keyboards and serving as the band’s musical director, helping everyone remember the details of songs they wrote decades ago.
Back at home in Georgia, he tends to Charlane Plantation, about two hours southeast of Atlanta. The business has its challenges—he’s had to cope with the housing bust, which felled timber prices in recent years—but Leavell says he’s always re-energized by his return to the woods after weeks on the road. [...] Continue Reading…