Tony Levin was born on June 6, 1946 in Boston, Massachusetts. At age 10, Levin began his musical voyage, learning to play the upright bass (contrabass). In high school, he learned several other instruments, including the brass bass and tuba. He was selected while in high school to play with the Greater Boston Symphony Youth Orchestra. After high school, Levin went to the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, and was a member of the Rochester Philharmonic. He earned a bachelor's degree in music performance, and developed his interest and skills on several other instruments.

At Eastman, Levin met percussionist Steve Gadd, who introduced Levin to the worlds of jazz and rock. Levin traded in his upright bass in favor of a bass guitar, specifically a Fender Precision bass. In 1970, he moved to New York City and started playing in studios as a session musician and sitting in with local jazz and rock groups. In the late 70s he was picked up by Peter Gabriel, and began touring and recording with him. It was at this time that Levin first was introduced to the Chapman Stick, a bass-like instrument played by striking the strings rather than by plucking them. He later developed "Funk Fingers", a method for striking the strings with cut-down drumsticks strapped to his fingers. Levin was soon working again with Gadd in the band, L'Image, with Mike Mainieri and Warren Bernhardt. Levin and Gadd also started a comedy band, the Clams, which also included Levin's brother, Pete, on keys. While working previously with Peter Gabriel, Levin had met Robert Fripp, and in 1979, he played on Fripp's "Exposure". Following this successful project, Levin joined Fripp's band, King Crimson.

Other musicians who have played with Levin include Adrian Belew, Gary Burton, Judy Collins, Alice Cooper, Dire Straits, Peter Frampton, John Lennon, Herbie Mann, Pink Floyd, Buddy Rich, Carly Simon, Paul Simon and James Taylor. Levin published a book titled Road Photos in 1984. The book is a series of black and white photographs taken while Levin was touring with King Crimson, Gabriel, Simon and others. He has also written a collection of short essays, stories from the road, and other short works, titled Beyond The Bass Clef. Levin continued working with King Crimson through the 90's. He also released a fantastic studio album with drum legend Bill Bruford, also of King Crimson (and of Yes), titled Bruford Levin Upper Extremities. in 1997, he made Black Light Syndrome with drummer Terry Bozzio and guitarist Steve Stevens as Bozzio Levin Stevens, and recorded the Liquid Tension Experiment with John Petrucci of Dream Theater. In order to gain total artistic freedom in his music, Levin recently founded Papa Bear Records, whose goal is to defy genre stereotyping.

all in all (in an attempt to sum-up...), Levin has worked as a:
  • bassist (fretted, fretless, upright)
  • Chapman Stick player
  • vocalist
  • producer
  • guitarist
  • drummer
  • cellist
  • clarinetist
  • tuba player
  • didjeridu player
  • saxophonist
  • keyboard player
  • banjo player
  • painter
  • photographer

props to toalight for the petrucci info!

wanna see something scary? check out

props once again to machfive