What prompted you to start the Mother Nature Network? There are many websites out there that deal with the environment, and for the most part, they’re not very engaging or they just focus on one aspect of conservation. Some sites require you to be a scientist to understand what they’re talking about, while others are full of pop-up ads trying to sell you a natural hair tonic. I decided to put together a clean, comprehensive environmental site that’s easy to understand on a range of topics from recycling to what’s happening with our mountains and oceans to how people can get involved and make a difference. We have a talented staff of eco-journalists working out of Atlanta, and they focus on making it fun for people to learn.
With so much on your resume, do you have a favorite musical experience from your vast career? Oh, man. I’ll have to name at least a couple. In 1990, I was touring in Europe with the Stones after the Berlin Wall fell. Feeling the new freedom people were experiencing over there was amazing. We played to 126,000 people in Prague, and there were signs all over the place that said, “Tanks Roll Out, Stones Roll In.” It was special to be involved in such tremendous change. Another unforgettable show was with the Allman Brothers at Watkins Glen in Upstate New York in front of 600,000 people. That was an important time of quiet revolution in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s.
At any given moment would you prefer to be playing a sold-out stadium with the Stones, or walking in the woods on your plantation in dead silence? What you’ve just described is the great balance I am blessed with, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s such an honor to be able to do what I do musically. Connecting with an audience is an amazing feeling, whether it’s a large or small crowd. But to get away from the long tours and big cities, I need to hear the sound of the wind in the pines and the crunch of leaves under my feet.
Chuck Leavell: A Brief Timeline
1972: Leavell joins the Allman Brothers Band at age 20 and remains with the group until its first break-up in 1976. The band’s first album with Leavell, Brothers and Sisters, hit number one on Billboard’s Pop Chart and includes seminal songs “Ramblin’ Man” and “Jessica.” After the group disbanded, Leavell formed the rock fusion group Sea Level with Allman’s drummer Jaimoe.
1982: Leavell is asked to join the Rolling Stones for tours and recording sessions in a role that remains ongoing.
1992: The keyboardist performs on the taping of Eric Clapton’s MTV Unplugged in England. The resulting album went on to win six Grammy Awards.
1999: Leavell and his wife, Rose Lane, win the National Outstanding Tree Farmer Award.
2001: Leavell publishes his first book, Forever Green: The History and Hope of the American Forest.
2006: Leavell is named to the Georgia Land Conservation Council by Governor Sonny Perdue.