CNN AMERICAN MORNING WITH PAULA ZAHN
Minding Your Business: Interview with Rolling Stones Keyboardist
Aired January 17, 2003 - 07:41 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDY SERWER, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: Let's take a quick check of the markets yesterday. Stocks were down on Wall Street, you can see there, a little bit of a pullback for the Dow and the Nasdaq.
Big news if you're a Microsoft shareholder, they're paying a dividend for the first time.
But who wants to talk stocks when we can talk the Rolling Stones? He's been a professional musician for more than 30 years playing to packed houses all over the world. His job playing keyboards for Eric Clapton and the Allman Brothers, and most recently the Rolling Stones.
Chuck's been the Stones' piano man since the early '80s. He'll be at the keyboard Saturday night when they play New York's Madison Square Garden, a concert to be broadcast live on HBO.
And Chuck Leavell joins us now.
Chuck, welcome to AMERICAN MORNING.
CHUCK LEAVELL, ROLLING STONES KEYBOARD PLAYER: All right, all right!
SERWER: Good to see you.
LEAVELL: Andy, it's great to see you again. How is everything?
SERWER: I'm doing just fine.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: We've got the whole team here.
LEAVELL: Good to see all you guys.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Chuck, how are you man?
SERWER: So, you've been playing with the Stones since the 1980s. These guys are now in their 50s, getting towards 60 years old. How have things changed over the years, Chuck?
LEAVELL: Ooh, gosh, gotten better. SERWER: Yes?
LEAVELL: Absolutely, no doubt about it. It's the proverbial bottle of fine wine, it just gets better and better.
SERWER: And you guys have been on the road for how long now?
LEAVELL: Well, let's see, we started rehearsals back in mid- July, the tour started in early September, so we've been at it a little while. It's great though.
ZAHN: The reviews have been great. There's a really good one overnight from the "Daily News," still drawing blood from the Stones. Well, I wonder if you resent, though, every reference that they make to you guys is the -- and in spite of their advancing age, the boys proved last night they can still leave blood on the stage.
ZAHN: Like someone is surprised that someone over the age of maybe 42 could have some energy.
LEAVELL: Well, yes, I know, it's weird. I liked Keith's answer to that. He says, well, the collective weight is about 145, and that's fighting weight.
ZAHN: Yes, Mick is really rail-thin now, isn't he?
LEAVELL: Yes, yes.
SERWER: So, you're cranking out "Jumpin' Jack Flash" and "Street Fightin' Man" and all of those good tunes?
LEAVELL: Every night, every night, just loving it. It's been an incredible tour. It really has. You know, the band I think honestly sounds better than we have. Yes, I've been with the guys for 20 years. It's hard for me to hear myself say that, you know, but 20 years, and I assure you it's a better band now than it was 20 years ago.
HEMMER: Well, you think so, huh?
LEAVELL: Yes, no doubt.
HEMMER: Do you ever get the feeling one night you just don't want to do it, you just don't want to go out and hear 20,000 people scream in your ear?
LEAVELL: No! Are you kidding? No, I can't wait to get out there every night.
HEMMER: Yes. Like he was going to say something else there, right?
ZAHN: Yes, leave your $100 at home.
HEMMER: It never gets old.
SERWER: Yes, except you have -- oh, excuse me, Paula. You have another side to you, this whole tree farming side.
SERWER: How did you get into that?
LEAVELL: Ooh, long story, but basically, my wife inherited some property down in Georgia from her grandmother. And we just had to make a decision as to how we were going to move forward with this property, and we decided that we would go into forestry, plant trees, manage our family forest, and that's what we've been doing ever since then. She got the property back in '81.
ZAHN: Have you gotten Mick and Keith out there to help you cut down anything?
LEAVELL: No, well, we have tried several times to get the guys down, but the scheduling hasn't really worked. But they'll get down there one day for sure.
ZAHN: I'm curious how you think the band is better now.
LEAVELL: Well, you know, I think it's the passion that we all feel for what we do, and it really boils down to that. We love it. Are you kidding? You know, Mick Jagger loves to get up there and perform...
HEMMER: It's like fine wine.
LEAVELL: Well, absolutely. And you know, every note that we play, you just think, wow, I get to do this again? What an incredible honor, what an incredible opportunity. So, I think that's why. And you know, I think it's like anything in life, the more you do it, the better you get at it. And so, I've been doing it awhile, and it just keeps getting better.
SERWER: Why don't you play something for us?
LEAVELL: All right, how about a Stones song?
ZAHN: Yes, well, that would make sense.
LEAVELL (playing keyboard): Oh, yes! Uh-huh. Do you know this one, Paula?
ZAHN: I'll help you.
LEAVELL (singing): We all need someone we can lean on. And if you want to, baby you can lean on me. Oh, yeah. Well, we all need someone, oh, we can lean on. That's right. And if you want to, if you want to, baby you can lean on me.
She said, my breasts will always be open. She said, honey, you can lay your weary head right on me, uh-huh. She said, there will always be a little space in my parking lot if you need a little bit of coke and sympathy. Whoo!
And we all need, oh, someone we can dream on, and if you want to, if you want to, you can lean on me. Oh, take my arm, take my leg, well, whoo, honey don't you take my head.
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