I don’t know how many people remember the late great vocalist Gerald Levert. He was the son of Eddie Levert, one of the lead singers of the O’Jays, and he had a string of great R&B hits, the biggest one being a song called “Casanova” that was big back in the 90’s (I believe). When that song came out, he was paired with 2 other guys in a group called “Levert,” even though that union was not going to last long because Gerald was destined to go out on his own. I played for Gerald about 10 times in my career, and there was one question I never got to ask him before he died. You see, the song “Casanova” was a song that featured mostly 4 music chords (even though it did have a bridge to it). From a musician’s standpoint, when examining those 4 chords, they happened to be the “exact” same chords used in Marvin Gaye’s hit song “Sexual Healing.” The difference was that the order of those chords was reversed (and I wonder if many people even knew that). To some extent, I wanted to ask him if he “stole” those chords from Marvin. As it was, I never got the chance to ask him about that. I remember once doing a special tribute to Teddy Pendergrass where Gerald sang the Teddy tunes (along with Christopher Williams) and Gerald “killed it.” I also have a video of a show where I played behind him and he sang Otis Redding’s “Try a little tenderness.” It was awesome. One day I was performing in Merrylville, Indiana and Gerald’s hotel room was right next door to mine. The cleaning lady had just cleaned his room and then came over to mine, and she talked up a storm. She told me that Gerald’s room was the “worst” she ever had to deal with, and that he had some serious health issues. I didn’t ask her for any details, nor did I even want to know them. I just let her sound off until it was time for her to go to another room. That night, we had the performance, and it was awesome. Everyone reconvened to the hotel desk after the show that evening around 11:00 pm. Gerald was mighty hungry then, and he went to the restaurant area and asked the lady behind the counter for some chicken wings. The lady responded by saying, “Sir, we are closed now. It is 11:00 pm.” Gerald, who was not to be denied, said, “Listen, you don’t understand. I’ll give you $200 for some chicken wings.” The lady obviously didn’t know who he was, and reported Gerald to the manager, who also had no idea who Gerald was. Gerald then said, “Listen, I’ll give you $300 for some chicken wings.” The manager, thinking Gerald was some crazy guy off the street, called the police. When the police arrived, Gerald was “livid.” He started cursing up a storm and he “dared” the manager to step out from behind the counter. The police knew who Gerald was, but they had a job to do. If Gerald had stepped beyond a certain point, they had “every” intention of “arresting him.” Needless to say, Gerald’s own bodyguard escorted him out of the area and back to his room for his own safety. Eddie, Gerald’s father, said the next day that he had to send Gerald back home, because he can’t act like that in public. Gerald was a great vocalist, even though I always thought his father Eddie was even greater. Whenever we would have a show, Gerald wanted to practice for a “long time” how he wanted the show to go, and then when it came time for the show, he would often venture off into something different. A truly great talent who is missed, Gerald Levert could have done “so much more.” It was an honor to play for him, and I hope you don’t mind me sharing my stories with you. Thank you and as always, I wish you the very best that life has to offer today.
Gerald LeVert and Brett Jolly in concert