King Crimson bassist on playing with Bowie, Lennon and more
Tony Levin has an incredible resume. The bass player for King Crimson, who played the Mann Music Center last Saturday, September 4, has recently been named number 42 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of all-time great rock 'n' roll bass players.
Among the artists Levin has played with include, John Lennon, Peter Gabriel, David Bowie, Buddy Rich, Lou Reed, Paul Simon, Carly Simon, and Ringo Starr. On Wednesday, Levin, who was a guest on my show before King Crimson rocked the PNC Bank Arts Center, revealed what it was like playing with those legends.
You can listen to the full podcast here.
Levin played the bass on John Lennon's "Double Fantasy." He talked about first meeting the former Beatle, who by that time was a New Yorker, which Levin was totally comfortable with.
"I walk into the session and Lennon came right up to me and said 'They tell me you're good, just don't play too many notes and I kind of laughed and said 'don't worry it'll be fine' and it was fine," Levin said when he called into my show.
Levin says Lennon was, "intense in the studio but not in a way that bothered anybody. He hadn't been in the studio in a long time and was dying to do it."
It was with Lennon that Levin felt comfortable playing Beatles stuff.
"There were one or two times with John when he played the piece and I'd be playing along making up a bass part and I'd have a sense that I can't do that because that would be The Beatles. Then I thought 'oh wait a minute, it's his song, I can do that this time, this one time. I don't have to try to make it sound like it's not John Lennon.'"
Levin also talked about playing on Lou Reed's album "Berlin."
"He wasn't even there." But did get to meet Reed when they were both acting in Paul Simon's "One Trick Pony" movie.
What did Levin like most about playing with Paul Simon?
"Somewhere around the middle of my working with Paul I thought, 'gee I'm going in to work with Paul Simon. I'm going to hear a new song and some of the poetry and lyrics in it might become part of the English language and I'm going to hear that tomorrow morning. How great is that?'"
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Steve Trevelise. Any opinions expressed are Steve's own. Steve Trevelise is on New Jersey 101.5 Monday-Thursday from 7pm-11pm. Follow him on Twitter @realstevetrev.