Marcy Levy: The Where's Eric! Interview
Marcy Levy (aka Marcella Detroit) was born in Detroit and began playing in different bands in her home town in the early 70s. This would bring her into contact with major acts like Bob Seger and Leon Russell with whom she performed live. After moving to Tulsa, Oklahoma to further her career, she was asked to join Eric Clapton's band for touring and recording, contributing songwriting credits on several songs - "Lay Down Sally," "The Core," "Hungry," "Tangled in Love," and "Walk Away."
She formed Shakespeare's Sister in 1988 with former Bananarama member Siobhan Fahey, and enjoyed much chart success, including eight consecutive weeks at Number 1 in the UK charts with the song "Stay."
A solo career followed with more chart success, including the highly acclaimed "I Believe" from the album Jewel.
Twenty four years after her first interview with Where's Eric! Magazine (Issue 9), Editor Tony Edser caught up with Marcy following her memorable reunion with Eric Clapton at the British Summer Time festival in London on 8 July.
How did your reunion with Eric come about?
Over the last 9 or 10 years, I’ve re-connected with Eric’s right hand man, Nigel Carroll. We hadn’t realized but we live in the same area just outside of LA.
My friend, Walt Richmond, who was playing keyboards with Eric, they were in LA recording and he invited me to come to the studio while my husband and I were out celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary. So we went there and I saw this person and I went “is that Nigel”? He went “yeah, Marcy?” So we re-connected and we’ve been friends since then and through Nigel I keep up with what’s Eric’s doing.
It just so happened I had talked to Nigel a few months ago, right after I had set up these gigs in London (July 9th – 20th at Boisdale of Canary Wharf). I noticed that Eric was going to be playing the BST Festival the night before I started my shows, so I mentioned it would be so fantastic if we could do some of the songs we’ve written together, after all this time, not having been on stage together since 1985.
Nigel said, “well it sounds like a great idea to me, Eric’s on holiday right now, so let me get back to you”. About a week and a half later I woke up, checked my cellphone, and there’s a message from Nigel saying “Eric would love to have you join him on stage”. That was so cool, I was so excited.
Did you have much chance for rehearsal?
There was no prior rehearsal except for, on the day, when I got there, Doyle (Bramhall) came in to the trailer where I was hanging out and he said “Let’s run through 'Lay Down Sally' and 'The Core.'" So he explained to me how they played them, what the intros were and stuff like that, and that was it!
And then you just walked out in front of 65,000 people and blew everyone away – that is just unbelievable!
It blew me away too; I was like "Oh my God!" You know for me it was a real kind of cathartic, full circle moment, to be there with Eric after all that time. Before we went on, Eric said, “You know, there’s a lot of people here today, just don’t look!” (laughs).
Well I guess the sun was almost in your eyes anyway so looking out wasn’t easy?
That didn’t even bother me so much, I was just relishing the moment of being up there with him and the band were fantastic, we were all smiling.
Were you aware that Eric had only played "The Core" twice since July 1978, at a concert in Paris this January and in Greenwich, Connecticut in May?
That was actually brought to my attention by a fan who sent me a clip of Eric performing "The Core" in Paris. Doyle was singing it and I was like, wow, that sounds fantastic.
Eric’s been playing "Lay Down Sally "quite a bit over the years but you yourself have re-worked that song on a few occasions too haven’t you?
Yeah, in fact I’m doing it now in my shows and I’ve done it as a ballad, I’ve done it the original way that we started working on the song, when Eric said to me “Hey, I want to write a song called "Lay Down Sally”. We did it more like a New Orleans second-line groove, like a Bo Diddley beat, that was the first way, as soon as he said that to me, I just started playing that beat and singing that melody. I don’t know why, that lyric just immediately inspired a melody. I just started singing it and we worked on it in the studio for 5 hours that way. We couldn’t really come up with a verse for it though and then finally Eric started playing the groove that it became on the record. Glyn Johns was producing and said “we’ve got to record this right now”! So we all got behind our instruments and put it down, then Eric said “go back to your room tonight and write the words”. We had the chorus down pretty much, so I came back the next day with the rest of it, we did all the vocals and that was it. But I’ve been doing it so many different ways.
Do you have other recording plans?
Well I’ve been working on some new material. I actually have one song that is pretty much finished that I had Clem Burke, the drummer from Blondie, play on it and the great guitarist Laurence Juber, who is a friend of mine, he was with Wings back in the day. He also helped me produce this track and it’s very much back to my rock/blues, slightly quirky, roots. But I’ve been playing three of the new songs for my shows here at Boisdale and everybody is like “wow, we love the new songs”. Its’s very raw, very rock, very bluesy, I’m playing harmonica on some of the tracks, I love it! Hopefully that (album) will be finished by the end of the year, or early next year.
Final thoughts on re-connecting with Eric?
I was very happy to be part of that special moment, what a thrill. Eric seemed so at peace within himself, he was really happy to introduce me to two of his girls that were there and his wife. It was just so nice to see him, I’m really happy for him.