The Timeless Groove of Leland Sklar: A Journey Through Music and Friendship

Danny Coleman Interview of Leland Sklar

Explore the remarkable journey of bassist Leland Sklar, from his iconic collaborations with music legends to his enduring presence in the industry at 77. Discover how his talent, demeanor, and connections have shaped a career filled with memorable moments and ongoing success.

by Danny Coleman, originally posted on New Jersey Stage Rock On! This Week’s Sound Bites

Dannycoleman Interview Leland Sklar
Photo Credit: Jay Gilbert/Chris Schmitt

“I should set my clock by you,” laughed Leland Sklar as he was just finishing up his last dates on tour with Lyle Lovett“Then I’m Heading home, then heading to the NAMM Show and then getting ready for the Grammy show; my dance card is pretty full right now; I’m turning 77 and I never thought I’d be this busy at this time in my life. You always kind of assume in a ‘”Flavor of the month” business that you’re gonna be out in the pasture before too long and knock on wood, I think about it all of the time and I always kind of think that a moving target is kind of harder to hit so; keep moving.”  

As one may or may not know, Sklar began his journey; a journey which would see him perform, tour and record with and for James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt, Phil Collins, Toto, Jackson Browne and the aforementioned Lovett. He, along with his fellow studio mates Danny Kortchmar and Russ Kunkel became known as “The Section;” dubbed as such by Taylor as they were his rhythm section at the time. 

Music has its ups and downs but Sklar always seems to have been on the upside and for very good reason; his talent, demeanor and likability create a calm and an ease the minute he says hello and that translates into people wanting to be in his company, which in the music business takes you places because as we know in life it’s not what you know but who you know; fortunately Sklar knows both.

Along with Leland, Kunkel and Kortchmar there were guitar greats Waddy Wachtel and Steve Postell in the mix and when you combine all of their skill and expertise you come up with a group of players who have performed on countless recordings, stages and tours with more artists than it’s possible to name in such a small space and a group that have become; like “Family.”

In 2018 they decided to unite and create “The Immediate Family” and they began with a tour of Japan and performances here in the United States. This led to releasing their self-titled debut album in 2021 and their current  release, “Skin In The Game” which was released on February 16 on Quarto Valley Records.

Just prior to The Grammy Awards, Sklar took the time to chat about The Immediate Family and his busy schedule. 

“We are getting ready;” he began with a chuckle. “I have a day off after the Grammy Awards and then I start rehearsing with The Immediate Family and we’ve got gigs on the West Coast and then we head to Florida and then a Rock Legends cruise down in the Bahamas and I’m really excited about that and then I’ve got one day off and then Lyle Lovett is doing another cruise and I’ll be jumping right on that so, I’ll be on a boat for a couple of weeks but The Immediate Family is really excited about getting right back out and playing again.” 

“Getting ready?” Seems like an odd phrase for a group of guys who have always been “Ready” when called upon but before they set out in support of the new album; they are “Getting ready” to welcome a new member into the family. 

“Everybody will be there except Waddy,” he said with a brief touch of melancholy in his tone. “The problem is, he’s Stevie Nicks’s music director and he’s been out with her all last year and we were supposed to have this time open and then she decided to add more shows and it’s a drag but this has been his gig for the last 50 years with her and so he is not going to be able to do it. Elliot Easton from The Cars is gonna come out with us. So, we’ll get to do some Cars songs with him and we’ll do some Steve Postellsongs and Danny Kortchmar songs; it’ll be fun. It will be a slightly different vibe but it’ll still be great and we’re all really excited we’ve all known Elliot for a long time and he’s a dear friend who has come to a lot of gigs; he’s really excited about the chance and he’s a great guitar player; it’s an exciting time for us”. 

Looking back at a stellar career as one of the most sought after bassists of all-time is always rewarding for him but the new album along with the recent documentary release and the opportunities to see and hear the impact he’s made on others is something he thoroughly enjoys. 

“We were hoping that maybe the Grammys would nominate us for the “Best New Artist” but it’s one of these things where it’s an interesting situation to be in; especially because the documentary film has added a whole other dimension to things,” he said with the laugh of a man who is enjoying his good fortune. “Over the years you talk about legacies and those kinds of things and I had never really given a thought to it. I always kind of felt that if in 20 years if somebody was listening to “Doctor My Eyes” or “Spectrum,” or any of the things that I’ve worked on and they enjoy it, then that to me is the legacy. I don’t even care if they know who played bass on the stuff as long as it brings them pleasure but now with the documentary, it’s kind of put a different layer on this onion of our careers. It’s real interesting and I’m having fun sort of embracing it all and it has been really fun going to all of the film festivals with whoever in the band that can make it and I go with Denny Tedesco and to just do the Q & As and have people express what all of this music has meant to them throughout their lives. It’s a real pleasurable experience to know the impact that all of that stuff had and then for us to be able to come up on another level and have people actually recognize; oh wow, you’re the guys who did it; it was a great job and a job that I feel fortunate and blessed to have done my whole life. Still, it’s a gig, you don’t have any ideas or expectations as to what’s gonna happen to any of the stuff after you’ve recorded it. Then it is up to how it’s handled and how people respond to it and you don’t have that perspective when you’re actually making it. So, one of the most common threads is when people come up to you and say, “You were the soundtrack of my life” and I tell them, “It’s the soundtrack of my life too” and I can set myself aside as a participant of those songs and sit and enjoy those songs because they were an intrical part of my life too and so many of them represent different moments in my life too just like they do; it’s marriages, divorce, deaths, births and music is so remarkable in that respect. It really does become a benchmark of emotions and we feel the same way regardless if we are creating it or whatever; we are living it at that moment and it does have a significance to us too and it’s great to share that with people.” 

“When we saw the first cut of the movie; it hasn’t changed dramatically since the first cut but it has changed and when we saw the first cut; we were all sort of blown away by the interviews because we didn’t know anything about those because all we really are is content. Denny and his team took all of this stuff and created the movie out of it; they went out and got all of the artists and so when you’re watching and listening to Linda and Carole KingJames TaylorandJackson  andPhil Collins and all of the people that are involved in it; it’s a really kind of warm and fuzzy feeling where you kind of go, wow, this is really cool; it’s such a beautiful community. I think the thing that the movie really emphasizes is that it was beyond just doing a recording session and leaving. The relationships with all of the artists that we worked with over the decades transcended just a gig; it’s friendships and touring with them, living on buses together; it’s a far deeper connection than like The Wrecking Crew musicians had back in the ’60s where you do the recording and never leave the studio and their commitment, as deep and fantastic as it was, was strictly do the session and move on to the next session. Whereas for us, it all lined up from creating the albums and then going on the road and performing them and it has been a remarkable journey. So, the movie kind of made us look at it, I never reflect on the past because for me, everything is about today and tomorrow and so to have something that looks back on our careers and relationships is a pretty emotional experience every time I see it.”

Prior to the album’s release, the band dropped two singles, “Whole Lotta Rock And Roll” and the title track, “Skin In The Game.” 

“Skin In The Game” is being worked on because it’s the closing song in the documentary and the title song of the album and we released a video and the thing I love about this is the variety of material is so extensive on the album. “Whole Lotta Rock And Roll” is really Waddy. As gifted and diverse as his career is, when it comes down to it, he’s a rock ‘n’ roll guy. So, when he brought that song in we all went, yes! This is great!”

To discover more about The Immediate Family, the documentary and their new album please visit and to connect with Leland Sklar, please go to