to do what I want, musically speaking.
When I’m with Bruce, I’m not the leader,
like I am with my own band. I like not being
the leader for a change.
Your list of credits as a sideman is impres-
sive. You seem like a classic overachiever.
I’m not an overachiever; I just love making
music, love the live musical environment
and putting out a passionate, emotional,
positive, and spiritual performance for the
audience. I think I’m a great team player. I
love the experience of being in a band. I’m
happy banging on a tambourine and singing
harmonies if that’s what’s needed.
How did you get the gig with Ringo, and
what was it like playing with an ex-Beatle?
I was invited to one of Ringo’s birthday par-ties. He had a room set up as a studio and
a place to jam. I didn’t get to play until late
at night, but afterwards, Ringo and I talked
things over and remained friendly. He and
his wife Barbara used to come to my gigs. In
1989, he asked me to become part of his All-Starr Band, and we did two tours together.
Joe Walsh was in that band, too. It was one
of the greatest band experiences I ever had.
Your new CD, The Loner: Nils Sings Neil,
is a tribute to your friend, Neil Young.
Can you tell us how you managed to hook
up with him to record After The Gold
Rush at age seventeen?
I went to see Neil and Crazy Horse four times
at the Cellar Door club in Washington, DC,
and they were incredible. I used to sneak into
clubs and concerts, seek musicians out and
ask their advice. Neil was very kind to me.
He bought me a hamburger and a Coke, and
we talked and started a friendship. Grin had
decided to move to Los Angeles, and Neil
gave me his number and told me to look him
up when I got out there, so I did. One thing
led to another, and I wound up recording
with him and touring as part of his band.
And you used Neil’s old Martin D- 18
to record that CD, didn’t you?
Yes. When After The Gold Rush was finished, Neil gave me the guitar as a gift for
helping him out on the album, and also
because I didn’t own an acoustic guitar. It’s
my most treasured guitar.
How did your new CD come together
and why did you list the late David
Briggs as co-producer?
It was my manager, Anson Smith’s idea. I
sat at home and played and sang about
thirty of Neil’s songs for two weeks. About
a dozen or so of them started to feel special, so they wound up on the CD. It was
my manager’s idea to use David’s name.
David was a brother and a mentor, and
Neil’s producer for years. David’s way of