Greg Leisz

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Greg Leisz
Leisz playing mandolin in Eric Clapton's band in 2013
Leisz playing mandolin in Eric Clapton's band in 2013
Background information
Birth nameGregory Brian Leisz
Born (1949-09-18) September 18, 1949 (age 74)
Buffalo, New York, U.S.
GenresRock, folk, country, pop, jazz, blues, acoustic
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter, record producer
Instrument(s)Lap steel, pedal steel guitar, guitar, dobro, mandolin, banjo
Years activeMid-1960s–present
Member ofThe Forest Rangers

Gregory Brian Leisz (/ls/ LEESS;[1] born September 18, 1949) is an American musician. He is a songwriter, recording artist, and producer. He plays guitar, dobro, mandolin, banjo, lap steel and pedal steel guitar.


Leisz playing lap steel in Eric Clapton's band, Charlotte, North Carolina, April 2, 2013

Leisz grew up in the garage band culture of mid-1960s Southern California. He spent time at the Ashgrove, the Troubador, and clubs on the Sunset Strip . He began playing guitar and soon added dobro and lap steel, inspired to pick up the pedal steel after hearing Sneaky Pete Kleinow and Buddy Emmons. In 1975, he toured with John Stewart (formerly of The Kingston Trio). He was a member of Funky Kings who released their eponymous debut album on Arista Records in 1976. After the band broke up, he became a popular musician both in the studio and on the road.

In 1987, Leisz began working with Dave Alvin (formerly of The Blasters). Their collaboration led to Leisz producing several of Alvin's albums, including King of California, Black Jack David, Ashgrove, and West of the West. In 1989, he played on k.d. lang's Grammy-winning Absolute Torch and Twang and joined her on the resulting tour. For the next eighteen years he toured with Lang and recorded with her, including her album Ingenue. Starting the early 1990s, he worked often with Matthew Sweet, played on Sweet's album Girlfriend and toured with him.

In January 2008, Leisz joined the group Works Progress Administration, a band composed of Leisz, Sean Watkins (guitar), his sister Sara Watkins (fiddle), Glen Phillips (guitar, vocals), Benmont Tench (piano), Luke Bulla (fiddle), Pete Thomas (drums), and Davey Faragher (bass). The group released their debut album, WPA, on September 15, 2009.

In 2010 and 2011, Leisz toured with Ray LaMontagne as a member of his backing band, The Pariah Dogs. He toured in 2013 as a member of Eric Clapton's band, in 2015 as a member of Jackson Browne's band, and again in 2017. He appeared in the 2016 Cameron Crowe cable television series Roadies, accompanying Jackson Browne on three songs in the last episode of the series.

Leisz played mandolin on the mid-2021 Bob Dylan recordings of "Blowin' in the Wind," "Masters of War," "The Times They Are A-Changin' (song)," "Simple Twist of Fate," "Gotta Serve Somebody," and "Not Dark Yet" produced by T-Bone Burnett and recorded and mixed by Michael Piersante for a one-time sale as Ionic Originals.[2]

Leisz's playing has appeared throughout the years on recordings by Aaron Neville, Alison Krauss, Amos Lee, Beck, Bill Frisell, Black Crowes, Bob Dylan, Bon Iver, Bruce Cockburn, Bruce Springsteen, Cass McCombs, Chuck Prophet, Daft Punk, Dave Alvin, Eagles, Emmylou Harris, Eric Clapton, Glenn Frey, Grant Lee Buffalo, Haim, Jackson Browne, Joe Cocker, John Fogerty, John Mayer, John Stewart, Joni Mitchell, k.d. lang, Lucinda Williams, Matthew Sweet, Meshell Ndegeocello, Paula Cole, Peter Case, Ray Lamontagne, Robert Plant, Rosie Flores, Ryan Adams, Sam Phillips, Sara Watkins, Shawn Colvin, Sheryl Crow, Susanna Hoffs, The Bangles, The Jayhawks, The Smashing Pumpkins, Tracy Chapman, Vampire Weekend,[3] Whiskeytown, Wilco,[4] and Allen Toussaint.[5]

Another close collaborator is Bill Frisell, with whom he tours regularly and is featured on the albums Good Dog, Happy Man, Blues Dream, The Intercontinentals, Disfarmer, All We Are Saying, and Guitar in the Space Age!.

Personal life[edit]

Greg married Estonian musician Mai Leisz in April 2018.


Leisz playing guitar with Jackson Browne (left) in Greenville, South Carolina, 2015

In 2010, Leisz was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award for Instrumentalist by the Americana Music Association.

In 2011 he received a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album for his contributions to Ray LaMontagne's album God Willin' & the Creek Don't Rise (2010).[6]


As co-leader[edit]

  • With Jim West, Hotel Honolulu - The Hawaiian Tribute To The Eagles (CMH, 2007)

As sideman[edit]

With Ryan Adams

With Amy Allison

  • Sad Girl (Diesel Only, 2001)
  • Sheffield Streets (Urban Myth, 2009)

With The Bangles

With Beck

With Jackson Browne

With Peter Case

With Eric Clapton

With Joe Cocker

With Holly Cole

With Paula Cole

With A. J. Croce

With David Crosby

With Marshall Crenshaw

With Shawn Colvin

With Sheryl Crow

With Grey DeLisle

With Don Felder

With John Fogerty

With Bill Frisell

With Amy Grant

With Haim

With John Wesley Harding

With Natalie Hemby

  • Puxico (GetWrucke, 2017)
  • Pins and Needles (Fantasy, 2021)

With Joe Henry

With Missy Higgins

With Miranda Lambert

With k.d. lang

With Amos Lee

With Charles Lloyd

With Jim Lauderdale

With John Mayer

With Joni Mitchell

With Keb' Mo'

With The Murmurs

With Willie Nelson

With Aaron Neville

  • I Know I've Been Changed (EMI, 2010)
  • My True Story (Blue Note, 2012)

With Randy Newman

With Mark Olson

With Judith Owen

  • Lost And Found (Century of Progress, 2005)
  • Somebody's Child (Twanky, 2016)

With Sam Phillips

With Chuck Prophet

  • Balinese Dancer (China, 1993)
  • Homemade Blood (Cooking Vinyl, 1997)
  • No Other Love (New West, 2002)
  • ¡Let Freedom Ring! (Yep, 2009)

With Bonnie Raitt

With Carrie Rodriguez

With Vonda Shepard

  • It's Good Eve (Vesperalley, 1996)
  • By 7:30 (Jacket, 1999)
  • From the Sun (Redeye, 2008)

With Bruce Springsteen

With Matthew Sweet

With Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs

With Shannon McNally

With Teddy Thompson

With Tiger Army

With St. Vincent

With Loudon Wainwright III

With Rufus Wainwright

With Gillian Welch

With Jennifer Warnes

  • The Well (Virgin, 2001)
  • Another Time, Another Place (BMG, 2018)

With Lucinda Williams

With Robbie Williams

With Victoria Williams

With Brian Wilson

With Wolf Bros

With others


  1. ^ "Greg Leisz and The Omni Pedal". YouTube. Archived from the original on December 21, 2021. Retrieved October 30, 2020.
  2. ^ "Three Bob Dylan Re-Recordings to Go Up for Private Sale Via Christie's: 'Simple Twist of Fate,' 'Gotta Serve Somebody,' 'Masters of War' (EXCLUSIVE)". September 6, 2023. Retrieved September 7, 2023.
  3. ^ "Vampire Weekend detail new album Father Of The Bride". FactMag. January 24, 2019.
  4. ^ "Bo Menart". Retrieved July 16, 2014.
  5. ^ "American Tunes". April 2016. Retrieved May 23, 2016.
  6. ^ "Lady Antebellum Takes Home Five Grammys; Justin Bieber Gets Beat for Best Newcomer". Fox News. Associated Press. February 14, 2011. Retrieved October 26, 2017.

External links[edit]