May 24, 2012 11:19AM

Money Mark's Top 10 Musical Memories

The Beastie Boys collaborator is in town next week for Stop The Virgens; we asked him about his fondest career moments.

Beastie Boys collaborator/musician/producer/keyboard genius Money Mark will be in town next week for Karen O's Stop The Virgens 'psycho opera'. Part of Vivid Live, Stop The Virgens kicks off next Wednesday on May 30, and Money Mark will be one of 13 musicians making up the main musical accompaniment headed by Sam Spiegel (aka Squeak E. Clean) and Yeah Yeah Yeahs members Nick Zinner and Brian Chase. He'll be playing alongside Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keeler (The Greenhornes, The Raconteurs), and Jason Grisell (Bubbles) in the production.

With six studio albums under his belt, and having worked with musicians as wide and varied as Beck to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, we decided to ask Money Mark about his top 10 musical memories (and maybe live vicariously through him a little bit):

Best musical memories! I've been playing/performing/writing/producing for more than 30 years (is that possible?) and I have a few more than 10 moments that were life-changers... But here goes a few (on my website moneymark.com there's some more).

1. Plastic Ono Band, Los Angeles
Yoko Ono, Lady Gaga, Iggy Pop, RZA, Perry Farrell, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Kim Gordon, more. That was a crazy night of rotating superstars and I got to bang out some classic Lennon/Ono jams and trade keyboard licks with Gaga (she's a sweetheart and great on the piano) and rock out loud and hard at the Orpheum in LA.

2. Stop The Virgens, NYC
Being from the theatre, I was feeling at home with this project! What could be better than rocking out with my favourite bands AND being under those theatre lights, and with actors and dancers on a proscenium stage with Karen O as lead?!

3. Omar Rodriguez-Lopez Quintet, Europe tour
Omar R-L (Mars Volta), guitarist and visionary, called me late one night and said, "Pack your bags and bring three keyboards, we're going to Amsterdam to record and tour Europe!" I said, "OK!" It was a wild ride through ice and snow where I felt like I was in the hands of a mad musical scientist... Improvisation at its purest! I was able to do whatever I wanted onstage.

4. Beastie Boys, Madison Square Garden, NYC
We performed there more than once but one year Biz Markie joined us onstage for a number: Elton John's 'Bennie and the Jets'... Damn! I got to play 'Bennie and the Jets' at MSG! Biz sang and I banged out the G major 7th chord. I was teaching Biz the lyrics backstage even though he mumbled the piece — but it was genius anyway!

5. Recording with one of my two faves on the same track! Jim Keltner on drums and Carol Kaye on bass on my 2007 record called 'Pick Up The Pieces'
Neither are known for their funk-playing but both are super groovy and funky as heck! She is a magic player and Jim is just simply one of the best drummers in rock! I'm lucky to have them on my track!

6. Red Hot + Riot: The Spirit of Fela Kuti, Electric Lady Studios, NYC
Another superband moment: Femi Kuti, Questlove, D'Angelo, Erykah Badu, Nile Rodgers, more — making this album blew my mind, and that I was even asked to be part of it was an honour.

7. Beastie Boys, Tibetan Freedom Concerts, Golden Gate Park
There were lots of great acts in support of Tibet but watching Richie Havens from the side of the stage was chilling!

8. Femi Kuti, Paris
After Femi's first American tour he decided to record in Paris for two months. He called and I spent two months with him in a basement recording studio in St. Germain to record Fight to Win. I got to hear ALL of his stories about his father, Fela Kuti.

9. Rolling Stones, Los Angeles
Don Was was producing Bridges to Babylon and I called in and I would show up early. One day on a break, Mick sat me on the piano and showed me some of his piano stylings! That dude can play piano well! It's also when I became friends with Ivan Neville, who is a monster on keyboards!

10.  Danger Mouse, Los Angeles
Brian Burton [Danger Mouse] just arrives in Los Angeles and we became friends. Before Gorillaz, before Gnarls, before it all, I met him at his 8x8 rented room in Mt. Washington and with a turntable and a small sampler he made The Grey Album... I end up playing on Danger Doom [Burton's collaboration with MF Doom] and for him the rest is history! 

Stop The Virgens runs from May 30 — June 3 at the Sydney Opera House. Tickets are available from $59.

Introduction: Ingrid Kesa