SecondAct contributor David Ferrell is a former staff writer for the Los Angeles Times and the author of the comic baseball novel “Screwball”. This article originally appeared on SecondAct.com. Top photo courtesy of Chuck Leavell.
Chuck Leavell has lived the ultimate rock ‘n’ roll fantasy, but he’s so modest that he doesn’t always own up to it. At a recent lunch, a new acquaintance had to bombard him with questions to gauge Leavell’s prowess on the keyboard.
“You play around here?” the man asked.
“I play all over,” Leavell said.
“You got a band? Or you perform by yourself?”
Leavell’s friend Joel Babbit, who witnessed the interrogation, chuckles at the memory. “You had to squeeze it out of him,” Babbit says. Finally Leavell conceded that he belonged to a band – and a pretty good one.
“The Rolling Stones.”
Fortunately, the white-bearded, 58-year-old Leavell is far more forthcoming about his latest endeavor outside of music: He’s co-founder of the Mother Nature Network, which has rapidly become one of the Internet’s busiest science and environmental websites, based on site statistics from Alexa, the Amazon-owned company that tracks Web traffic. The site, launched by Leavell and Babbit as a for-profit business in January 2009, reached 20 million page views in May alone, according to spokesman Dan Beeson.
“It’s nothing short of a dream come true; it really is,” says Leavell, an original member of the Allman Brothers Band who has released four solo albums, besides playing alongside such icons as Eric Clapton, Lee Ann Womack and George Harrison.