Tony Levin

Instrument
CR Upright Bass, CR Cello
Groups
Peter Gabriel, King Crimson, The Levin Brothers and many, many others.......
Website
Last December I got to do one of those ‘bucket list’ things… went to Northern Chile to visit the ESO Telescope array, and photograph the stars. It was very moving, and before I even came home I’d decided to string my photos together as a video and write music to it. Back in my home studio I quickly laid down the music ideas that had come to me in the mountains, using the NS cello as lead (both in the moody early section and in the credits where I allowed myself to rock out!) Then did some keyboard, some vocal, and reached for the NS bass to give it the lows it deserved. Once again, those instruments were ideal for letting me record the music and feel I had in mind, with super fidelity and no fuss. The NS (EU5) Upright I play a great deal and when (Ned) developed it I was one of the first to play them. I started playing it in King Crimson in a rock context and it really worked well.  Since then I play it a lot on Rock, Pop and Jazz records.  The Levin Brothers features the NS Upright and NS Cello as melodic instruments.  It’s wonderful when an instrument can inspire you with your music and gives you a gift of sending you in a direction that works just because of the sound of it.

—Tony Levin

Bass player Tony Levin has maintained his website since 1996, giving behind the scenes views of life on the road and featuring his photographs from stage and on tour.

His most notable bass playing albums and tours have been with: Peter Gabriel, King Crimson, John Lennon, Pink Floyd, Lou Reed, Alice Cooper, Buddy Rich, Peter Frampton, Gotye, Carly Simon, Judy Collins, Paula Cole, Chuck Mangione, Steven Wilson, James Taylor, Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe.

Solo albums: World Diary, Waters of Eden, Resonator, Pieces of the Sun, Stick Man.

Collaborative groups: Bruford Levin Upper Extremities, Bozzio Levin Stevens, Liquid Tension Experiment, Levin Torn White, Levin Minneman Rudess, Levin Brothers.

Levin is currently a member of the bands King Crimson, Peter Gabriel Band, Stick Men, Levin Brothers

Books published: Beyond the Bass Clef, Road Photos, Crimson Chronicles vol 1. and (coming soon) Fragile as a Song.

Born in Boston, June 6, 1946, Levin grew up in the suburb of Brookline, starting playing upright bass at 10 years old. In high school he picked up tuba, soloing with the concert band, and started a barbershop quartet. But he primarily played Classical music, attending Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY, where he had the chance to play under Igor Stravinsky and in the Rochester Philharmonic. Also at the school was drummer Steve Gadd, who introduced Tony to jazz and rock, leading to his trading in his upright for a Fender bass, later moving to New York, joining the short-lived band Aha, the Attack of the Green Slime Beast, and becoming a studio musician.

Having played on many albums in the 70’s, Levin jumped at the chance to tour with Peter Gabriel in 1977, switching to Music Man basses, which he still favors, and learning the Chapman Stick, which he played extensively in King Crimson from 1981, and led to his starting the band Stick Men.

In 1984 Tony released Road Photos, a collection of black & white photos taken during his travels with Crimson, Gabriel, and others. Soon following was the book Beyond the Bass Clef featuring stories and essays about bass playing. Another photo book, Crimson Chronicles, volume 1, the 80’s contains an extensive collection of his b&w photos of life on the road with the band.

2016 is another year filled with creative output and concerts for Levin. Stick Men has toured the U.S. and will play in Europe in the Fall. The Peter Gabriel / Sting tour in Summer will be a notable one. Joined by Adrian Belew and Pat Mastelotto, Tony will host the yearly Three of a Perfect Trio music camp in the Catskill mtns of NY State. King Crimson will tour in Europe from September. A new album release from Levin Minneminn Rudess is coming, as is the album “Prog Noir” from Stick Men. And in June, a book of Levin’s lyrics and poetry, titled Fragile as a Song.  Tony is currently on the 2019 Celebration Tour with King Crimson.

Interview – Tony Levin

Videos