| || |
A Short Bio:
Jim Leverton only became associated with the Canterbury scene quite late in his career, as he joined Caravan for the sessions of The Battle Of Hastings in the spring of 1995, taking over from Richard Sinclair following the early 1990s reunion of the original line-up. But he was by no means a newcomer, being one of the musicians with the most prestigious pedrigree ever associated with the genre.
Having started playing guitar (left-handed) around 8 or 9, Leverton's career started in the early 1960's when he started playing guitar in various semi-professional beat groups around Dover. Leaving school at 15, he became an apprentice bricklayer but eventually decided to devote his life to music and in 1964 joined the Burnettes, a professional band from Folkestone which had Noel Redding, already a friend of Leverton's, on guitar. The line-up recorded two singles, including a cover of Joe Tex's "Hold On To What You Got", before breaking up 18 months later. Leverton went on to form The Lonely Ones with other ex-members of the Burnettes, soon changing their name to The Loving Kind. During its two years of existence, they recorded three singles for Pye Records, inclduing a cover of Marvin Gaye's "Ain't That Peculiar?".
At that point, Noel Redding left the band to join the Jimi Hendrix Experience as bass player, to be replaced by one Ray Flacke. Leverton started doing some session work around that time, playing on releases by Tom Jones, Gilbert O'Sullivan and Engelbert Humperdink. But he teamed up with Redding again when the latter formed his own band Fat Mattress in 1968, with Neil Landon on vocals and Eric Dillon on drums. When the quartet folded after two years and a couple of albums, Leverton joined Juicy Lucy, a blues-rock band with Paul Williams on vocals and Mick Moody on guitar. That line-up recorded an album and toured the US, but this coincided with a bad period for Leverton, who feeling depressed took six months off at the end of 1971.
In 1972, Leverton briefly joined Ellis, a band run by former Love Affair vocalist Steve Ellis, alongside guitarist Andy Gee and keyboard player Zoot Money, but left after playing on an album, not willing to tour with them. Leverton's next band was Hemlock, led by ex-Keef Hartley guitarist/vocalist Miller Anderson, which recorded an eponymous album for Deram in 1973 and toured Europe and the US for a couple of years. Leverton subsequently worked on a solo album by ex-Grease Band/Wings guitarist Henry McCullogh and gigged with Frankie Miller, before joining Savoy Brown for about a year in 1974, touring the States and recording the album "The Boogie Brothers". A brief stint backing Leo Sayer followed, before he joined Joe Brown and the Bruuvers, again with Zoot Money on keyboards.
In 1978, Leverton began a long working relationship with ex-Small Faces and Humble Pie guitarist/vocalist Steve Marriott, which lasted until Marriott's untimely death in 1991. They were together in a succession of Marriott-led pub bands such as Blind Drunk and Packet Of Three. In 1991, Leverton joined the reformed Blodwyn Pig, but things didn't gel so he went on to various temporary jobs, including a brief spell with the Dubliners. It was then that he first met Geoffrey Richardson, who was having musical instruments renovated at the antique business of one of his friends. The two started doing pub dates which resulted in an album, "Follow Your Heart", in 1996.
When Richard Sinclair left Caravan and Mike Wedgwood declined the offer to replace him, Jim Leverton's name was put forward by Richardson, and he played on the Battle Of Hastings album, having no previous knowledge of Caravan's music. Leverton even sang lead on David Sinclair's song "Travelling Ways". Although he wasn't featured on the subsequent "All Over You" and "All Over You Too" projects, Leverton has remained with Caravan ever since. In addition to playing bass, he also inherited Richard Sinclair's famous part in "Disassociation", the closing movement of "Nine Feet Underground".
Leverton was closely involved in completing unfinished material by Steve Marriott, for which he called on the services of Geoff Richardson among others. A second 'Jim & Geoff' album, "Poor Man's Rich Man", came out in 2000. Leverton's long overdue solo album may finally appear in the future. Meanwhile, he is abundantly featured on Caravan's latest studio album, The Unauthorised Breakfast Item (he again sings lead on one song) and, as vocalist, was also a major contributor to Dave Sinclair's 2003 solo album Full Circle.
This profile is largely based on Ralph Cross's interview with Jim Leverton in issue 7 of the Caravan newsletter, 'Where But For Caravan Would I ?'.