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David Leonard: Bio

Born and mostly bred in New York City, I've long had a ringside seat to what has been, arguably, the most interesting music scene of the 20th and 21st centuries.  I remember sneaking out of the house, climbing out the window wearing 5-inch silver platforms, with my friend Tommy, to see the Dolls at Club 82.  A minute later, it seems, we were sharing the bill at CBGB with the Dead Boys. 

Then, in 1980, Meg Griffin and WNEW-FM chose me as one of New York's premier acts, and we showcased at the Bottom Line with the Smithereens.  A thousand gigs later, two failed record deals with MCA and Geffen, years of sleepless nights, and somehow, no regrets.  Either I'm stupid or brilliant--it's a fine line, isn't it?

I've been lucky enough to have shared a stage or recorded with so many incredible artists and legends:  Rick Derringer, Tommy Shaw, Chuck Berry, Phoebe Legere, Richard Lloyd, Lenny Pickett, Melanie, Steve Holley, Tony Thunder Smith, Rockpile, Cyndi Lauper, Sean Pelton, Steve Conte, The Bennett Brothers, Rick Danko, Jaco Pastorious, Arthur Nielsen, Gene Cornish, Kenny Aaronsen, Leslie West, James Lewis, Huw Gower, Charlie Torres, Crowded House, Squeeze, Steve Grimley, Sean Jenness, Wendy Wills, Norman Ross, Allen Fryer . . . phew! 

But here, I've put it all together in my own time and with the artists I love the most.  This is a labor of love that took five years to complete.  Along with with learning how to be a Dad, mowing the lawn, driving a restaurant into the ground, fishing, sailing and diving--I have been continuing to write and record songs.  Recorded mostly in my home studio (you wanna talk “learning curve”?), a ‘CD of me own’ is finally ready for distribution to friends, family and anyone else who might be interested in hearing it.  It’s called "The Quickening". 

After being twice frustrated with the major labels, this record was written and recorded on my own terms.  It was sweet to sit there with Doug and say, "you know what, screw it!  I love the stuff Rick plays on that outro--let it go for twenty minutes!" without caring whether an A&R gal or a radio programmer will be happy.  And, it sounds great--Doug achieved masterful results in his mixing wonderland--it's simply a roomful of toys . . . very, very expensive toys!  In fact, we used the actual pre-amps that Abbey Road was recorded through.  They delivered a warmth that has to be heard to be understood.  To think that the notes from my Hofner bass passed thru the same circuitry as Paul's--well, how crazy is that??  Now, I'm not supposed to say anything, but we also used the very same tambourine that John played on "We Can Work It Out".  I sat there holding it for an hour.  I even sniffed it to see if it smelled like Beatles.  I think it did, too.  What does a Beatle smell like?  Coke, whiskey, cigarettes, airports and English leather, of course. 

Anyway, working with Doug was a thrill, in itself.  He has amazing ears--like a schnauzer's, I think.  He was able to correct all the mistakes I made in my hermetic home studio.  But, the end result is simply a rock and roll record--a sow's ear, not a silk purse.  And, as the saying goes, “It’s all for the love of rock and roll.”

“The Quickening” features seven original songs and three covers (by Lennon/McCartney, Bob Dylan and the elusive rogues Roky Erickson and Clementine Hall of the legendary 60's Texas band, The Thirteenth Floor Elevators).  While I play most of the instruments and sing all of the songs, I was fortunate enough to be helped by some of my favorite artists.  Rick Derringer, Chris Spedding, Will Lee and Charlie Torres contributed lots of guitar and bass; singers Kati Mac and Sherryl Marshall join me on two songs, and my absolute favorite drummer in the world--Steve Holley--holds it all together.  The wizard, Doug Maxwell, mixed and mastered, and we are thrilled with the results.  It has a fancy-ass cover, too, with pictures and liner notes.  I hope you’ll listen, and listen loudly.  It’s nicer that way.