Rent the Fifth Stone's Farm for Your Next Retreat
By Rik Kirkland

(FORTUNE Magazine) – CHUCK LEAVELL, KICKASS PIANO PLAYER and all-around nice guy, sports more than his share of cool labels, among them "the fifth Rolling Stone" (he has been touring and recording with the band since the early 1980s); the guy who ripped out the Greatest Rock Piano Solo of All Time ("Jessica," with the Allman Brothers --on the first take!); and "Boy Georgia" (Keith Richards's nickname for him). But after catching up with the man over coffee recently, I think he deserves one more: "Poster Boy for the Balanced Life."

Consider. In early October, Leavell gave a luncheon speech at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on family forestry and then joined the Stones onstage that night at the MCI Center. Next morning he was back downtown receiving an Outstanding Citizen Steward award from Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton. (He wrote a book a few years back on preserving America's forests, Forever Green, and walks his talk on Charlane, a 2,200-acre tree farm and hunting preserve 20 miles southeast of Macon, Ga.) Between the last Stones tour in 2003 and the current one, Leavell also found time to write, produce, and record a new jazz-rock album, Southscape; penned Between Rock and a Home Place, an autobiography full of musical lore; designed and built a new lodge for Charlane; and traveled the country speaking about conservation. And he has just written The Tree Farmer, a children's book out in time for the birth this winter of his first grandchild. Did I mention he also shared a table with fellow Alabamian Condi Rice at a White House dinner for Prince Charles earlier this month?

After hearing all this, though, what I really want to do is visit the spiritual center of Leavell's whirlwind world--those piney woods down Highway 129. And happily, you and I don't need a personal invitation. Charlane is set up to host executive (or nonexecutive) retreats for up to 14 people; the price is $800 a day per person all-inclusive if you're hunting deer or quail, and $325 if you're just walking, relaxing, and eating the Southern cooking supervised by his wife of 32 years, Rose Lane. (For reservations call 478-945-3939 or go to

If you go between now and next fall, just don't count on catching Chuck himself doing his usual duties as tour guide and occasional ivories tinkler. He'll be off playing more than 120 shows on five continents with the boys in the band. And of course also filling the empty hours by plotting his next book, designing more improvements at Charlane, planning his next album (a tasty-sounding fusion of country and soul), and learning to play the mandolin. The what? "You gotta stay busy, man," he says. Indeed. Hey, hey. My, my. Rock on, Chuck.