Transcript: Transcript Basslines & Brilliance: Inside the World of Leland Sklar

Hi, thanks so much for joining me this week for another fabulous musician story. Before I tell you who’s on the show today, don’t forget that if you’d like to request a guest, anyone who made great music in the 60s, 70s or 80s, just send me a message through the website That’s exactly what Neil from West Hollywood in California did. He reached out to see if I could get guitarist Leland Sklar, both because he’s such an incredible musician, but also because his life’s journey has been so fascinating.


Leland, or Lee as he prefers to be called, has been a prominent figure among A-League Hollywood session bassists, dating right back to the 70s. He has more than 2,000 albums to his credit, and today is a member of the hugely successful band called The Immediate Family. He’s been heard on hits by Linda Ronstadt, James Taylor, Hall & Oates, Jackson Brown, Phil Collins, Reba McIntyre and George Strait, just to name a few.


How sweet it is to be loved by you. Feels so fine. How sweet it is to be loved by you.


Let’s meet Lee Sklar and our listener Neil, who gets to ask a few questions of his own. Lee starts off by telling us that guitar wasn’t his first instrument. I started as a pianist when I was five.


My parents would watch the Liberace TV show, and I would watch it with them, and I was just totally enamored with piano because of just his panache, his presence. Plus, he was a really fine musician. By the time I was seven, I had won some awards from the Hollywood Bowl Association.


I was really gearing myself towards being a pianist, and when I went into junior high school at 12 years old, I kind of was a cocky little shit, and I said, well, your pianist is here, and the teacher said, well, we’ve got 50 kids that play piano. We need a string bass player, and he pulled out an old K upright bass out of the back room and showed me how to hold it, and I plucked one note on it and felt that vibration, and I just kind of went, so let’s go this direction. At that point, I was kind of burned out because I was sort of the proverbial child prodigy, and I was under a lot of stress for a lot of years doing recitals and stuff, and I think I was ready just to be done with it and move on at 12.


Did you come from a musical family? Well, I came from an appreciative musical family. My dad could play just enough saxophone to make me cry. My mom could plunk out on the piano.


The thing that was great, though, was my parents were incredibly eclectic and had a massive record collection, so I would sit at the old Magnavox hi-fi and just listen to everything from Beethoven to Martin Denny to you name it. It was a real fruitful environment musically in the house. The last teacher I ended up with was a woman named Debbie Green.


Many years later, in my early 70s studio days, there was a drummer I worked with a great deal named Ed Green, who did all the Motown stuff, and we were talking one day and I said, yeah, Ed Green. I remember one of my favorite piano teachers was Debbie Green. He goes, that was my mom.


This is horrible. When I was like 12 years old, I was in his garage with his mom while he was probably in the house. The journeys we take through all this adventure of our careers is pretty astounding at times.


Somebody was talking to me this morning on my YouTube about Billy Thorpe, and I love Billy and did Children of the Sun with him, and these connections are pretty amazing. Absolutely. Well, for anybody listening who doesn’t know, Billy Thorpe was one of the Australian musical icons who sadly passed a few years ago, but a very well-known heavy rocker and a lovely person as well.


Show it, then, in every way, help me to show it. For most of my life, I lived a delusion. This material gain has caused me confusion.


Slowly in time, I learned that my place is to tell all that I need, the glory that God is. Ooh, yeah, yeah, and that’s why. When piano eventually took a backseat and bass became it, you went off to study at California State University.


What were you studying? Well, I went to the music department, and I really did not like it. And I went to school, I mean, I was in the band with Tom Scott, the great sax player. The other bass player was Daryl Dragon, who was the captain of Captain and Tennille.


I really didn’t like it, and I went up to the administration building and took a battery of aptitude tests. And they said, well, your highest aptitude is in science and art more than music. So I transferred, and I did a double science and art major.


Cheech Marin was one of your classmates, wasn’t he? Yes. Well, it was really funny. We were in painting classes and stuff together.


It was Richard Marin. I knew him as Richard. One day we were talking, and he goes, a friend of mine and I, we’re going to see if we can do a comedy act.


And I just kind of look at him and say, yeah, good luck. And next thing you know, Cheech and Chong is one of the biggest acts in the world. For me, it was a similar thing, where I was in a band in the late 60s locally called Wolfgang.


It was still one of my favorite bands I’ve ever been in. And our drummer, Bugs Pemberton, who was actually English, and he had been in Jackie Lomax and the Undertakers in London. So Bugs had a friend, and he had produced and engineered all of the early Stevie Wonder songs in The Key of Life and albums like that.


And he used to come and hang out at our rehearsals. And at one rehearsal, he brought a friend of his who had just gotten back from England, an old friend, and it was James Taylor. She’s a silver sun.


You best walk her way and watch it shine. Watch her, watch the morning come. A silver tear appearing now.


I’m crying. Ain’t I? Gone to Carolina in my mind. There ain’t no doubt no one’s mine.


Your love’s the finest thing around. Whisper something soft and kind. And hey, baby, sky’s on fire.


I’m dying to die. I’m gone to Carolina in my mind. Can’t you see the sunshine? Can’t you just feel the moonshine? Images like a friend of mine to hit me from behind.


Yes, I’m gone to Carolina in my mind. When he came to that rehearsal, he had just finished recording his James Taylor album, his first American Warners album. And he hung out for a couple of days with us, and nobody really knew who this guy was yet or anything, but he had been booked to play the Troubadour.


And he had Russ Kunkel on drums and Danny Korchmar, who was a childhood friend of his, on guitar, and Carole King was the piano player. And they were kind of debating if they were going to have to look for a bass player. And James came to our rehearsal, and he called Peter Asher immediately and said, I found my bass player.


They asked me to play this gig, and I figured I’d play one show with him. I was still in another band, and I was still in college. And it ended up that James suddenly was on the cover of Time magazine, and he was at the forefront of the singer-songwriter movement.


And our lives completely flipped over. It was like a perfect storm and a tsunami all at the same time. There is a young cowboy who lives on the range.


His horse and his cattle are his only companions. He works in the saddle and he sleeps in the canyons, waiting for summer, his pastures to change. And as the moon rises, he sits by his fire, thinking about women and glasses of beer.


And closing his eyes as the doggies retire, he sings out a song which is soft but it’s clear, as if maybe someone could hear. Good night, you moonlight ladies. Rock-a-bye, sweet baby James.


Deep greens and blues are the colors I choose. Won’t you let me go down in my dreams? And rock-a-bye, sweet baby James. James is brilliant.


I mean, when you sit in, first off, you watch his technique as a guitarist. Every great guitarist I know is always trying to cop James Taylor’s style. It’s really, it’s unique to him.


And then you listen to his lyrics and you go, Jesus, you know, I mean, amazing, amazing songwriter. And then you listen to his voice and you just go, Jesus. And he was the package.


The way he ended up with Peter was when Peter and Gordon, because Peter was half of Peter and Gordon, when they came to America during the English invasion in the 60s, when they would get to a town, somebody would arrange a pickup band for them. And when they played in New York, I think it was, they ended up with a band called the Kingbees. And Danny Korchmar was the guitar player in that group.


So Kooch and Peter became fast friends. And when James and Kooch had a band called the Flying Machine, so James decided he was going to go to England and see what he could find over there. And Danny said, look, if you get to England, call Peter Asher.


And at that point, Peter had just been made head of A&R for Apple Records. So he heard James and he said, I love your playing. I love your songs.


I love your singing. Do you want a record deal? And James said, I’d love one. And that was all it took.


You mentioned James Taylor’s unique way of playing. Can you describe that? Well, the thing is, his thumb is constantly playing bass lines, and it really kind of caught me off guard because I’m thinking he doesn’t really need me because he’s already playing bass, but on the guitar and he has a finger picking style that’s really kind of unique to him. But when it came time for me to start working with him, it really took some adjustment to figure out, am I just going to copy what he’s playing with his thumb or am I going to start creating counterpuntal lines, you know, and more orchestrating bass parts around what he’s already got covered because he wasn’t going to change what he does.


For some reason, when we started playing together, it really came together. There was a connection between us musically. There was no words exchanged.


All of us, like when I played with Russ Kunkel the first time, I thought I’d played with Russ since birth. You know, it was one of those things that there’s a connection there. And with James, it was the same way.


Everything was really organic, very natural. When we recorded, generally we got songs within a couple of takes at the most. How do you explain that connection? I don’t think there’s words for it.


It’s one of those nebulous things that there’s times where you just get with somebody and the minute you sit down, it’s like we’ve been doing it forever. And there’s other times where you’re just flogging it. You’ll get it done, but it’s really hard and arduous.


It’s predicated on song. And if there’s 12 songs on an album, there’s 12 different experiences on that album. The stuff isn’t all the same thing.


So every time somebody plays me a new song, I completely readjust and get into that headspace with that and see what I think that song needs from me. I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end. I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend.


But I always thought that I’d see you again. Won’t you look down upon me, Jesus? You gotta help me make a stand. You just got to see me through another day.


My body’s aching and my time is at hand. I won’t make it any other way. Oh, I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain.


I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end. I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend. But I always thought that I’d see you again.


There’s that chemistry that when you’re in the studio and you start working on these things, when it comes together, that really is the payoff. What happens to it after that is out of our hands. But that chemistry and that magic that can happen in there, you just kind of sit there sometimes.


You really recognize it when it’s right. Is that magic something that you ever get used to or are you blown away by it each time it happens? Every time. Every time it happens.


Because as long as I’ve been doing this in as many songs as I’ve worked on, each time you sit down and plug in, it’s your first session. I’ve never gotten blasé about it. I find it really still intoxicating.


The real excitement is when I’m in a studio with four, five, six other people and the ideas start flying and there’s this energy and a vitality in the room. There’s nothing else in life that to me that matches that experience. And when everybody’s on that same page, you’re all just like a bunch of kids.


You get giddy. And then the minute the red light comes on, that’s when you get serious and you do it. But the set up to that red light is really some of the most enjoyable times I’ve ever had in my life.


At the time Lee played with James Taylor, it was the launch of the songwriter movement. It was also the first time that musicians started being listed on albums. Changing times indeed.

This is a breath of fresh air with Sandy Kaye. It’s a beautiful day. Because Leland Sklar and other members of the band were now listed on James Taylor’s albums, they suddenly found themselves in hot demand. I literally went from almost zero experience to being a first call player in town. So I was scrambling, you know, trying to learn how it works. So it was a challenge, because literally we went from nothing to doing a minimum of three sessions a day, six days a week. And I ended up playing with all the Wrecking Crew people. It was thrilling to be sitting there and look next to me, and there’s Hal Blaine playing drums, or I look at Mike Rubini and Mike Melvoin and Larry Nechtel on keyboards, and Dennis Boudimere and Al Casey and all these great guitar players and stuff, and I just suddenly got sucked into their vortex. When we started with these artists, like with James Taylor, well, the first thing Peter said, well, I want this to sound like this one when James goes on the road, so do you guys want to tour with him too? And the next thing you know, we were doing albums, touring with the artists, and doing all kinds of gigs like that. So we were quite a different animal than our predecessors, but it happened real fast. We were really lucky that we really ended up with an amazing group of people that really had their shit together, and we got right to work. And lo and behold, I mean, it’s been going on 54 solid years of this now. Amazing. So, I mean, today you’re a prolific studio musician and you tour constantly too. You’ve got the best of both worlds. Yeah, I love it. I love it because I would never have wanted to have to make a choice between them because I love both of them, but I would probably choose touring over studio if I had to make a choice. Why is that? Because I’m still a band guy at heart. I still love being on a stage and looking down and seeing people in front of you and responding. When you’re live and you play a note, the note’s done. You’re moving on. In the studio, you play that note, and they could screw with this for the next week. So I’d rather be on stage, but fortunately I’ve never been put in a situation where I had to make the choice, so I take full advantage of all of it. Doctor, my eyes have seen the years And the slow parade of fears without crying Now I want to understand I have done all that I could To see the evil and the good without hiding You must help me if you can Doctor, my eyes Tell me what it’s for Because I am blind To leave them open for so long Things were moving really fast for you. You’re still a young guy. You’re out there touring with James and a whole lot of other people, and you started to become very well known in really high demand. How did you handle that? You just treat it professionally, you know, like when people would call me. But I remember the first time I worked with Phil Collins was on a Lee Ritenour album in like 1981. And I was aware of him through Genesis, and he knew me through James Taylor and all this stuff. And he said, look, I got a solo deal. I’m going to do an album. I would love for you to do it and go on the road with me. And I couldn’t because I was already committed for the period he was talking about to James Taylor. I said, but I’d love to work with you at some point, anytime, you know, just if I can. So he called me in 84, and I went to England and did the No Jacket required album. Then we spent all of 85 on the road promoting it.


It’s all dialogue. You talk to people. If they want you, you try to juggle it. When we were doing stuff with our group, The Section, which was James Taylor’s band, we would go on the road with James, open the show with our music, and then we would come back and play his. Well, then we ended up doing the same thing with Jackson Brown and opening his shows and then doing his music. So what would happen is the management people, they were complete two different camps. They would talk to each other and adjust their schedule so that we could go from one to the other with like no time off in between. It was intense. It’s really intense. But man, I’d rather be hanging from the precipice than have nothing to do. Stay with me I hope you decide So safe and so secure Every day is such a perfect day To spend alone with you I need you nights that we know will be Stay with me Just one single tear in each passing year I’m really good under stress and pressure, so just throw it all at me and we’ll do the best we can. But there’s been only a couple of times where I had anything. I was supposed to do a Reba McEntire album. I had done a bunch of records with Reba, who I just adore. And I was supposed to go to Nashville for a week with her, but I got called to do a tour that was going to be three months. And I called her and I said, Look, I got this call. She said, Take it. I’m five days. You’re three months. Go to work. Next time we’ll get together again. And we did. And there’s been a lot of projects where I wished I could have done them. And I couldn’t. And I don’t regret it, but I had one call to work with Elton when his Bob Birch, his wonderful bass player, was hit by a truck in Canada. And was severely injured. And they called me and asked me if I could come in and fill in for the rest of the tour for him. But I was in France with Véronique Saint-Saëns touring with her. And I said, I can’t do it. I would love to have been with Elton.Sometimes things don’t line up. And you love it like that. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Take it where it’s right And give it to the likes of me Oh, little genie You’ve got so much love Little genie So I see you when I can You make me all a man can be And I want you to be my acrobat I want you to be my lover Oh, now Who would treat you cruel And oh, genie You were always someone’s fool Little genie You’ve got so much time Though you’ve grown beyond your years You still retain the feels of youth Oh, oh Lise-Claude, tell me about that famous beard of yours. What beard? Everyone knows you from the beard. Well, you know, it’s one of those things that when I was in high school, I mean, I graduated high school in 1965. And all through the junior high and high school, especially high school. I mean, it’s funny for me when I drive by schools now and I see all these kids with beards and long hair and whatever they want to do. It was real restrictive back in those days.

You know, almost like your vice principal was like a grooming guard. And they would say, your hair is getting too long. It’s, you know, hanging over your ear or something. I was lucky. It’s that kind of Eastern European stock. I started sort of shaving when I was about 12.

But what would happen is every summer, I would let, like, grow like an iron jaw and a moustache. I would go play clubs that were 21 and over, but nobody ever thought I wasn’t old enough to be in them. And as soon as I had to go back to school, I would have to shave and do that. So when they handed me my high school diploma, I just said, I am done with this bullshit. So the last time I actually saw my face clean shaven was 1965. You know, it just became kind of a thing. I was fortunate that I’ve been in a career where I’ve never really had grooming regulations. I’ve spent the last couple years on the road and I’m getting ready to start with Lyle Lovett again. And everybody in the band, we have to wear suits. And all the guys have, you know, coats and ties and all this. And I wear a coat, but I just wear a black T-shirt under it. You do what you gotta do. That’s the gig. You know, you’re not making the rules. You’re following the rules. You’re a sideman. And it’s a different thing than being like the artist calling the shots. Were there times when you would have rather been running your own show? Well, I really wish that I would have been in a situation where I was in a band that was really successful, when I would look at like the Eagles or Chili Peppers, any of that kind of stuff. I mean, I think about the Chili Peppers and I think, even though he does lots of other things, I kind of look at Flea and I go, all you ever have to know is Chili Peppers. You know, you can know your songs. Every time I go to work, it’s like I’m joining a new band.

I have new songs to learn, new songs to develop. I would love to have had the opportunity. It wouldn’t have stopped me from doing studio work and doing other things, but it would have been nice to have had something that was like a big payday bonus thing to be in a band that was really successful. But I would never give up what I’ve been fortunate enough to do because the variety of artists and musicians I’ve been able to work with through my career, you can’t put a monetary thing on that because it’s really been one of the most magical experiences I could have ever dreamed of. Lee, tell me about the Immediate Family because that band is making a huge splash worldwide. How did that come to be? Well, it was an interesting thing. The very first incarnation of what was to become this, what was the section, which was the James Taylor and Jackson Brown band, which was Danny Korchmar, myself, Russ Kunkel, and Craig Durgie on keyboards. And the way that came about was on one of James’ tours, James would come out and do a soundcheck and then he’d go off and do what he wanted. And we were just all so horny to play all the time that we would just jam. And our front of house mixer started recording our jams. I mean, we’re not thinking, we’re just jamming. We just want to kill some time before the show.

And Peter Asher heard them and he sat us down one day and he said, I want to play you something. And he played us something and we went, oh, that’s great. What’s that? He goes, that was your soundcheck today. And we ended up doing two albums for Warner’s and one album for Capitol. We ran through the 70s. We did a lot of stuff together and working with different artists. And then as time went on, we realized that the band wasn’t going to make a giant splash. So we departed from that, but we all still played together and we all still did other people’s projects and stuff. A lot of stuff with Crosby, Stills and Nash.

One morning I woke up and I knew A new day, a new way, a new life Gone the way of the mind The sky is clearing and the hours come The sun be calm, the world is all around Rejoice, rejoice, we have no choice Chants of freedom to sing the blues Many decades later, Danny Korchmar got asked to do a record in Japan. Danny’s been a prolific writer. He co-wrote songs like Somebody’s Baby and Machine Gun Kelly. You know, all she wants to do is dance with Don Henley. So they wanted him to do an album of all his material. Well, he called Russ and I and we were both in town the week he wanted to work.

So we ended up doing it. Waddy Wachtel’s part of the scene. Waddy couldn’t do the first three, but he could do the fourth day because he was out with Stevie Nick.

But what had really set this all up was Danny was at a party and met up with this other guy named Steve Postel. And there was a couple of guitars there and they started playing together and they hit it off immediately. So they started spending a lot of time together.

And when the opportunity came from Vivid Records, they started doing pre-production for Danny’s record together. So we got in the studio and Steve joined in on the things. Jackson Brown let us use his studio down in Santa Monica.

This is a breath of fresh air with Sandy Kaye. It’s a beautiful day. Leland Sklar was still basking in the glory of former projects like musical collaborations with Willie Nelson and Nils Lofgren.

He’d already amassed credits on television shows like Hill Street Blues and films like Forrest Gump, My Best Friend’s Wedding and Kindergarten Cop. And he was immersed in the band The Immediate Family with his lifelong friends and former bandmates. When the offer came to become the subject of a documentary, he was perplexed but thrilled.

It’s weird as hell because you don’t think of yourself as worthy of a documentary. I’m used to people calling me and saying, we’re doing a documentary on so-and-so, can we interview you? And then you talk for five minutes and then you end up being a 15-second soundbite. But to see an entire movie that’s about you and your bandmates is pretty incredible.

So we got to work on that and it fell together instantly. Everybody they called, you know, Linda Ronstadt, Carol King, Jackson, Brown James, Taylor, Keith Richards, all these people, when they called them they said, when can we do it? So they got a lot of interviews in and they finished it and we’ve done a ton of film festivals and I think it’s won 18 major awards so far. It’s called Immediate Family.

Yeah, it’s just Immediate Family. It’s all about the band. It’s really good.

I mean, every time I see it, there is a part of you where you’re going, wow. I mean, it just still kind of freaks you out a little bit that this came together because it’s something you never ever envisioned in your life. Yeah.

Just before I bring Neil in, he’s been sitting very patiently, I just wanted to wind up with you because you created a coffee table book called Everybody Loves Me that has about 6,000 photos from a collection of over 12,000 images of celebrities, all sorts of people giving you the finger. What’s with the finger, Laila and Sklar? Well, what happened was on Phil Collins’ first final farewell tour in 2004 we were out, there was talk that at the end of that tour Phil was thinking about calling it quits and retiring. I had a bass tech on the tour that had been hired for me.

He came in so prepped and he said, so what do you need? And I went, oh, nothing. I usually do my own gear and I just have like two basses. One of them is just a backup in case something breaks.

So he really had nothing to do for me. So we had this kind of running gag where he’d see me and he’d just go, because he wanted stuff to do and I didn’t have anything. So at the end of the tour I thought, I’m going to take pictures of everybody because if Phil does retire, there’s a lot of crew that’s from all over the world that I probably would never see again.

And lo and behold, the first person I go up to is Chinner sitting there at his laptop typing. I go, hey, Chinner, give me a smile. And I take the picture of him flipping me off and I kind of went, well, that’s actually kind of cool.

So I went and got Phil, I got Tony Smith, his manager, all the band, all the crew, truck drivers, bus drivers, pilots, caterers, and then I put it away. And a couple of years later I did the first tour I had done with Toto. And I thought, well, maybe I’ll do those guys too because I knew all of those guys forever.

So I got all of them and it got up to about 300 pictures and it started taking on a life of its own. And to me, it’s not mean-spirited or anything because it runs the gamut of emotions. It’s just a silly little gesture, but it was kind of the common bond through the whole thing.

Next thing you know, I ended up with literally close to 13,000 photographs that I took of all these people. It’s all humanity in there. So we sat and put this whole giant book together.

Lee, let me reintroduce you to West Hollywood Neil, who’s been sitting patiently. I could have walked to his house by now. He may invite you to do just that after he’s had a chat, but he does have a couple of questions for you because Neil is also a guitarist.

Well, first I just want to say how thrilled I am to be on this call. You were involved in all the music, the soundtrack of my life. Being a musician, just listening to you tell these stories has been thrilling.

And I’ve not only learned a lot about you and about the whole industry, your career was kind of like my dream. So I’ve been following you ever since I was a teenager and into this part of your career. But I do have just a couple of questions.

I was wondering what your connection to the whole Laurel Canyon movement was. Were you involved in that? A little bit. I never drank and I never took a drug, never smoked anything.

And so much of that hang was all involved in imbibing. So I would usually just kind of go home when people were going to other people’s houses. But like Russ Kunkel’s sister-in-law was Mama Cass.

And so I remember going up there and seeing Dave Crosby up there and Joni. We would go to Carole King’s house. I was there, but I wasn’t a real hang person.

When you’re down and troubled And you need some love and care And nothing, nothing is going right Close your eyes and think of me And soon I will be there To brighten up even your darkest night Lee, how come you didn’t get pulled into that drugs and alcohol thing that was rock and roll? I think I’m really a type A, ADHD kind of person, a real control freak. And I don’t think I would ever really wanted to do anything that took away my control. I mean, I saw it all and there’s so much of it.

I saw that I kind of went, it’s just not for me. So I wasn’t making the rounds of all that stuff up in the canyon and stuff. Cause that was a big part of the culture.

You know, one of the things that I’ve always admired about your style of playing bass is that you were always there. You were always in the pocket, but you were one of the first people that I recognized that played melodically more than just the third and the fifth. I was just wondering how that came about.

I think a lot of that was driven by playing with James just because he was already playing bass, you know, with his thumb. So it really required me to kind of listen to songs in a slightly different way. I mean, if he had been a guy that was just kind of flat picking away on a guitar, I might have approached the songs completely differently.

But for the fact that he was so comprehensive in his technique that it required me to think more melodically and more orchestrally. I was a big fan of McCartney and Paul’s playing, you know, especially that mid period of the Beatles. It just blew my mind how beautiful and melodic and creative his bass playing has always been.

I believe in now. You know I believe in now. In our documentary, there’s one point where Keith Richards is talking about playing with Waddy when they were doing the Expensive Winos group.

And Keith is going, you know, we get there and we get that thing and the musicians get that really stupid look on their face going, yeah, that’s the shit. It’s really true. There’s those moments where this whole thing comes together effortlessly and you just kind of go, wow.

And when it happens, it’s a buzz. You know, because you’ve played with so many iconic people in so many different types of genre, what do you enjoy playing the most? I think I really enjoy all of them. You know, I’ll be spending a big chunk of the year again with Lyle Lovett and we run the gamut from like big band Texas swing with a 15 piece band and we’ll strip down to like a three piece.

You know, if it’s good, I really like doing it. And if I had a boat, I’d go out on the ocean And if I had a pony, I’d ride him on my boat And we could all together go out on the ocean I’d set me up on my pony on my boat Now if I were a Rogers, I’d sure would not be single I couldn’t bring myself to marry an old babe Would it just be me and Trigger, we’d go riding through the moors And we’d buy a boat and on the sea we’d sail And if I had a boat, I’d go out on the ocean And if I had a pony, I’d ride him on my boat And we could all together go out on the ocean I’d set me up on my pony on my boat Is there one song above all others you’ve enjoyed playing the most? I’ll tell you live, I think my favorite song ever to play live is In The Air Tonight with Phil Collins. It’s the anticipation that that song creates when you’re playing it live when that audience is sitting there waiting for that drum fill.

When we were doing the first final farewell tour normally Chester Thompson would be sitting at his kit and then there would be the empty kit and Phil would be walking around the stage and just before the fill he would climb up on his drums and play his big drum fill. Well on that tour it was a huge stage that went up above us and Phil would be singing the song and we were building anticipation and excitement and then he would walk up to the top of this thing and people are starting to freak, you could feel it because there’s his drum kit down below and he’s not there what’s happening? And a second before that drum fill happened a drum kit came up out of the floor and he stepped right into it and would do the fill and the place would go berserk. And especially in the days before there was so much security where people brought drumsticks so you’d see all this air drumming and the places would explode and when you got 80,000 people in the stadium going crazy for a drum fill it’s pretty amazing.

I can feel it coming in the air tonight Oh Lord And I’ve been waiting for this moment For all my life Oh Lord Can you feel it coming in the air tonight Oh Lord Oh Lord Well if you told me you were drowning I would not lend a hand I’ve seen your face before my friend But I don’t know if you know who I am Well I was there and I saw what you did I saw it with my own two eyes So if you could wipe off that grin I know where you’ve been It’s all been a pack of lies And I can feel it coming in the air tonight Oh Lord And I’ve been waiting for this moment For all my life Oh Lord I can feel it coming in the air tonight Oh Lord Oh Lord Well I remember I remember don’t worry How could I have guessed the first time Last time we ever met But I know the reason why you keep your silence on If you’re a working player, you work on whatever comes through the door. So I would be listing It’s Raining Men, which I played on, or I Am Woman with Helen and all that stuff. Because to me, if you’re a bread and butter player, I give it the same dedication that I would give to a Phil Collins track.

Leland, you’re an amazing person and a brilliant musician. And we thank you from the bottom of our hearts, both for the music and for your time today. It’s just been a joy to chat with you.

This worked out perfect. I’m really glad. And Neil, I’m glad you jumped in with us.

Thank you so much, Sandy. Thank you so much, Lee. It’s been the greatest.

Thank you so much. Sandy, what a pleasure. The inimitable Lee Sklar there.

You can buy his coffee table book, limited edition artworks, and those famous T-shirts with his beard on them through his website, Thanks again for your company today. I hope you’ve enjoyed the show as I have. I look forward to being back with you again same time next week.

I’ll see you then. Bye now. It’s a beautiful day You’ve been listening to A Breath of Fresh Air with Sandy Kaye.

Beautiful day Oh, baby, any day that you’re gone away It’s a beautiful day.