Tony Levin was born in Boston on June 6, 1946. He grew up in the suburb of Brookline and began playing upright bass at 10 yrs old. In high school, he picked up tuba, soloing with the concert band. He also started a barbershop quartet. But he primarily played classical music on the upright, most notably performing at the White House with Marvin Rabin's Greater Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra for John and Jackie Kennedy. He then attended the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY and played in the Rochester Philharmonic. Also at the school was Steve Gadd, now a renowned drummer, who introduced Tony to playing a higher level of jazz and rock. He traded in his Ampeg baby bass for an old (at that time) Fender Precision bass, which was his only instrument for many years.
In 1970, Tony moved to New York City, joined a band called Aha, the Attack of the Green Slime Beast, with Don Preston of The Mothers of Invention. Soon after, he began working as a session musician and through the 1970's he played bass on many albums.
In the late '70s wanting to do more live playing, Tony joined Peter Gabriel's band. He had met Peter through producer Bob Ezrin (with whom Tony had recorded Alice Cooper's Welcome to My Nightmare, and Lou Reed's Berlin.) Tony has played with Gabriel, both on the road and in the studio, since then. On that first Peter Gabriel album, Tony played some tuba as well as bass, and directed a short barbershop quartet version of a song.