- 31 Dec 17
The guitarist, who passed away unexpectedly on Christmas Day, will be remembered for his "knowledge, passion and generosity of spirit."
The Irish music community has been paying tribute to Mark Levins, the highly respected guitarist who plied his trade during the 90's with the likes of North Of 49, who were briefly taken under U2's wing, and The Flood who routinely packed out the Baggot Inn with Mark's guitars screaming from the stage.
His passion lay in the blues with Mark forming several three-piece bands during his career, all of which were well received and noted for their stellar axeman.
Renowned for his MacGyver-like ingenuity, he set up Aladdin's Amps - great name! - in 2001, which nursed many a sick piece of equipment back to life, and was a Marshall Fender Vox specialist.
One of rock 'n' roll's good guys, he was more recently a member of baggy tribute act Hacienda That: The Madchester Experience, and The Moogs, a soul, disco, pop and rock party outfit par excellence.
"Mark had a fantastically funny turn of phrase, but his true talent lay in his wonderful guitar playing," reflects David Gray band member Robbie Malone. "Some of his solos were the best I’ve ever witnessed. You will be missed terribly."
Josh Ritter and The Frames man Dave Hingerty shared a stage with him on and off for over 25 years.
"I had the pleasure of playing with Mark and being one of his best friends all through the 90's and beyond," he says. "Apart from being an excellent technical guitar player and a bit of a genie with the amps and guitar fixes, he was a very warm, inclusive figure, helping younger players feel part of the scene."
Adds Hozier musician Rory Doyle: "The best memories I have of playing with Mark was that he always had a massive smile on his face... even when he’d make mistakes. You’d notice the guitar sometimes might disappear. At which point you’d look over at Mark to find him laughing hysterically with both hands completely off his instrument. That always made me laugh and at the same time relax for the rest of the gig."
'Mark was a great guitar player and amp repair guru," proffers Conor Brady of The Corrs and The Commitments renown. "His understanding of the electronics that underpinned classic guitar sounds made him an invaluable friend and ally to guitar players of all styles and creeds. He never expressed a hint of impatience when asked to explain, again and again, the mysteries of guitar amp behaviour - a measure of his knowledge, passion and generosity of spirit. We will miss him greatly."
Graham Keogh, who played with him in Tribe Of Ben, Hacienda That and Daymaker, says:
“Mark was the best guitarist I ever played with, and I don’t think anyone else will take offence at that! It was such an honour to have shared many stages and rehearsal rooms with him throughout the years. To me he was one of the most inventive players I have ever seen, being able to cross genres effortlessly, Aretha Franklin one minute then into a stomping David Guetta tune the next. Few can do that and make it sound convincing and real, but Mark did. But I always remember his humour and the fun that he brought. Even when times were tough you knew he would tell you to step back, look at the bigger picture and help get you through. We were bandmates first, but he was such a great friend and mentor to me. We had a shared love of football, which dominated many a conversation. I will miss his kindness, knowledge and passion, as will every one who was lucky enough to cross his path.”
“I met Mark over 15 years ago," Mundy recalls. "He repaired a couple of guitar amplifiers for me and was really professional at it. Later on I would meet him again at my wedding where he played guitar with The Moogs, and man, could he play. Playing cover versions to perfection can be under appreciated by a wine induced audience, but musicians appreciate it big time as it takes serious talent and precision. I’m very shocked at his passing and send my sincere condolences to his family and friends.”
“Having had the pleasure and privilege of sharing a stage with Mark for over a decade he has left us with so many happy memories to cherish," says his Moogs bandmate Keith Lawless. "His sharp, dry, quick witted humour and wonderful laugh would always have you in form for the gig. Every night he would start with the sweetest classic tone as he played the Chords D A E A (David, Adam, Ethan and Ava - his sons and daughter) filling himself with pride and love for the night ahead. He would take the band to all time highs by pouring his heart into every solo, reminding us all of the passion you can create and share through music. Mark will be remembered as the true gentleman and wonderful musician he was and those four chords well resonate for a long long time to come.”
“I first met Mark around 2000 when my then bandmate Tom in Las Vegas Basement was always going on about his dream guitar, a Cherry Red Gibson SG with a Trem Arm, just like his hero Frank Zappa’s!" recalls Ger Eaton who's also played with Mundy and Jack L. "Then one day while trawling the Buy & Sell, what did I find...! We called to the address, and when the door opened we were greeted by the biggest, most welcoming smile. That was Mark. You couldn't but hit it off with him straight away. We talked guitars and amps and bands, and checked out his collection of Vox and Fender Amps, and his many pedals and Tom left with a Cherry Red SG under his arm. Around 2005, my drummer bandmate Aidan asked me if I'd be interested in joining a new band to play a selection of Britpop hits. Cover bands were not usually my thing, but when I heard the line-up included music journalist Kevin Courtney, rock photographer Graham Keogh, and of course Mark on lead guitar, I couldn't say no! Over the following months of rehearsals, Mark would pick me up, drop me home, and in between, completely nail every guitar line and riff. That was when I really got to know him. He was always positive, always full of stories, always a perfectionist, and always with that same big welcoming smile he had when he first opened his door to me. I'm now the owner of that Cherry Red Gibson, and I'll forever cherish it”
A Humanist Service to celebrate Mark's life takes place on Tuesday January 2 at 10am in Newlands Cross Crematorium Chapel. Donations, if desired, can be made to the Immunology Department at St. James' Hospital.