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04 décembre 2005

Levin fondly recalls session with Lennon


Sunday, December 4, 2005

Levin fondly recalls session with Lennon

By John W. Barry, Poughkeepsie Journal

After concluding the first day of a 1980 recording session in New York City, bass player Tony Levin received a phone call.

The message he received was that the sessions were a secret — don't tell anyone, not even friends, where they were being held.

Levin — a Kingston resident who at the time was living in New York City — was playing with John Lennon and Yoko Ono during recording sessions for the couple's two upcoming albums, "Double Fantasy" and "Milk and Honey."

The next morning, Levin caught a cab and gave the driver the address of his destination — 54th Street and Seventh Avenue, the location of The Hit Factory recording studio.

"The cab driver said, 'That's the block where John Lennon is recording an album,' " recalled Levin, known around the Hudson Valley as much for his decades playing with Peter Gabriel as for his local, all-star bar band, Uncle Funk. "Some secret. I said, 'Where did you hear that?' He said, 'On the radio.' "

Thursday marks the passing of 25 years since Lennon was shot and died, three weeks after "Double Fantasy" was released. Levin said Lennon was planning to tour behind the album.

"We were roughly staying in touch with them about a tour, early in the following year," Levin recalled during a recent telephone interview.

Levin said Lennon was very relaxed in the studio and seemed to like being with musicians who enjoyed playing as much as he did. Lennon also enjoyed jamming on Buddy Holly songs in the studio.

"He was a very nice guy, very gracious," Levin said. "He was very direct, which didn't surprise me. To a New Yorker, he was a man with a New Yorker's manner. When he saw me the first day, when I came into the session, he said 'Hi.' He recognized who I was. He said, 'They tell me you're good. Don't play too may notes.' That was his way of saying hello."

Found out from reporter

Levin, who has performing credits with King Crimson and David Bowie, was in his East Side apartment, developing photographs in a makeshift darkroom in his kitchen, when he learned from a reporter's phone call that Lennon had been shot.

"I was so put off by the way I found out," Levin recalled. "The phone kept ringing from the newspapers. For me personally, I wasn't really allowed to go through how I did feel about it. It didn't work for me to ask for a quote. It took me many years to come to grips with it."

Regarding how he looks back on his work with Lennon, Levin said, "I admired and appreciated his work, was something of a little bit of a fan. I treated it like, not just another session, a really good session with a really great musician whose work I know."

Years later, Levin said, "I came to realize how much some of his music before those sessions had influenced me and still does."

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