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Talkin' Blues

Talkin' Blues with Chuck Leavell

By Published: May 1, 2012
AAJ: I also wanted to congratulate you on your Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Based on what I expressed in the introduction to our previous interview, interested readers will easily understand why, despite your relatively short time with the band, there's no doubt you earned that award.

You stepped into a nearly impossible situation and not only kept that band alive, but you helped them to achieve their greatest success. I also wanted to say that it was nice that you mentioned Dickey Betts in your acceptance speech.

CL: I appreciate that, Alan, and I felt very strongly that since Dickey did not come, he should certainly be recognized. I mean, come on, he's a founding member and he's written some of the best songs that the band has done. There's been some difficult times between some of the principals and Dickey, but the truth is he'll always be an integral part of it, and I was very flattered and pleased that they included me.

You're right, I was not there so long, but the years that I spent with them were golden years, and I think Brothers and Sisters (Capricorn, 1972) still stands as the best-selling album they've ever had. I was very, very happy to be included, and it was a special moment.

AAJ: Any interesting or funny behind-the-scenes stories from the Grammy awards you can share?

CL: I can just say that Butch [Trucks] tended to overstep his bounds with his acceptance speech. There were a lot of people on the stage who wanted to say something, and it was obvious that he took up more than his share of it. I think we were all kind of rolling our eyes a little bit, but it was good to be with all the guys again.

Gregg has had some health challenges—the liver transplant, the upper respiratory problems on his recent tour, and now he has a hernia. So it was a bit disconcerting to see him struggling with these issues, but I think he'll come out of it. In general, he looked like was on the road to recovery. I certainly hope so. All the guys were very cordial to me—the newer members of the band as well as the principals.

I thought Jaimoe stole the show with his story about almost starving to death and playing with those white boys if you want to make some money. I loved it.

Selected Discography

John Mayer, Born And Raised (Columbia, 2012)

Chuck Leavell, Back to the Woods: a Tribute to the Pioneers of Blues Piano (Evergreen Arts, 2012)

Chuck Leavell, Live in Germany: Green Leaves and Blue Notes Tour 2007 (Evergreen Arts, 2008)

Chuck Leavell, Southscape (Evergreen Arts, 2005)

Chuck Leavell, Forever Blue (Evergreen Arts, 2001)

Chuck Leavell, What's in the Bag? (Evergreen Arts, 1998)
Sea Level, Best of Sea Level (Capricorn, 1997)

Sea Level, Ball Room (Capricorn, 1980)

Sea Level, Long Walk on a Short Pier (Capricorn, 1979)

Sea Level, On the Edge (Capricorn, 1978)

Sea Level, Cats on the Coast (Capricorn, 1978)

Sea Level, Sea Level (Capricorn, 1977)

Rolling Stones, Stripped (Virgin, 1995)

Rolling Stones, Voodoo Lounge (Virgin, 1994)

Rolling Stones, Steel Wheels (Virgin, 1989)

Keith Richards, Talk is Cheap (Virgin, 1988)

Mick Jagger, She's the Boss (Columbia, 1985)

Indigo Girls, Swamp Ophelia (Epic, 1994)

The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Hot Number (Epic, 1987)

The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Tuff Enuff (CBS Associated Records, 1986)

Eric Clapton, Unplugged (Reprise, 1992)

Eric Clapton, 24 Nights (Duck Records, 1991)

Larry Carlton, Renegade Gentleman (GRP, 1993)

The Black Crowes, Shake Your Money Maker (Def American, 1990)

Dickey Betts, Highway Call (Capricorn, 1974)

Allman Brothers Band, Wipe The Windows, Check The Oil, Dollar Gas (Capricorn, 1976)

Allman Brothers Band, Win, Lose, or Draw (Capricorn, 1975)
Allman Brothers Band, Brothers and Sisters (Capricorn, 1973)

Gregg Allman, Laid Back (Capricorn, 1973)

Photo Credits

Courtesy of Chuck Leavell

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