Mick Jagger survived Covid, Rolling Stones’ “60th” tour continues and leads to Vienna on July 15. The band has been doing well in previous shows. “First of all, it’s about our passion,” said Chuck Leville, pianist and music director for the Stones. Last but not least, the frontman once again caused amazement at his agility—”Mick’s voice is better than ever,” stressed Levell.
Born in Alabama in 1952, this artist was part of the entourage of the “Greatest Rock Band of All Time” for 40 years. They worked “hard” on their anniversary tour of Europe. “We rehearsed 80 to 85 songs. It’s a shame we can’t get them all on stage,” the 70-year-old said. “None of us take this lightly. We only go on tour when we think we can put in the best show possible.”
Level gave a special testimonial to the singer: “Mick is very disciplined and is back in full force after contracting Covid. He does his singing rehearsals twice a day, whether we’re on tour or not – and that’s for many years.” No one at Stones camp wants to hear anything about the pension anyway: “We don’t know how long it will last, but we all want it to last as long as possible.”
Speaking about the chemistry on set, Level said, “Except for Steve Jordan, we’ve all been playing together for a long time. There’s a certain affinity and there’s an instinct for each other. You don’t have to talk and explain everything anymore.” Drummer Charlie Watts, who died last year, is missed “of course by everyone – as a friend and as a great musician,” but one has to tip one’s hat off to his successor Jordan: “He’s doing an amazing job. Charlie Steve gave him a blessing when he was there for him stepped in American Tour.
With Jordan on the drums, Stones got an extra lead. “I really noticed that in high-energy songs,” said Level. “It’s nice that Steve honors Charlie by embracing some of his own idiosyncrasies. Steve repeats a lot of the little things that set Charlie apart.”
When asked about his duties as a music director, Leville had to laugh. “It’s so generous and heartwarming that the band gave me that nickname. But hey, the music is from the Rolling Stones.” However, the name has good reason: “Since ‘Steel Wheels,’ I’ve been taking notes and making chord diagrams during rehearsals for each round—even during sound checks when we’re changing little things. I own two thick books like encyclopedias, where everything I have is mostly in My head – if it’s not, I pull up the notes. I’ve advanced to the point where I use hand signals during the performance: V if a verse appears, and C if a chorus follows.”
The Stones’ varied styles fit Leavell: “I grew up in the South with country music, gospel, rhythm and blues, soul blues, and deltas. My fingers speak with a southern accent.” As the youngest of three siblings, when he was home alone with his mother, she often took him to the piano. “I was fascinated by the way her hands moved over the keys, the sound and the rhythm. She taught me a few things and let me play on my own. I was never forced to take classical lessons, it was always fun. Then rock hit took off.” At the age of 14, Levell founded his first band. Permanent engagements soon followed.
Before Stones, Leavell played with the Allman Brothers. In the interview, he cited their popular album “Brothers And Sister” as one of his most important works, along with “Unplugged” with Eric Clapton and “Chuck Gets Big With The Frankfurt Radio Big Band”. The latter covers the entire American career path and is recorded live. the future? “I would like to play more big band shows and do a gospel album. It will show how gospel music and piano music evolved into rock and roll.” (Abba)
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