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John Levy

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Information about John Levy

Profile image of John Levy

Profession

Category:
MusicMakers
Occupation(s):
Music Manager

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Beans (Red), Rice
Favorite Time of Year:
Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
None
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
4/11/1912
Birth Location:
New Orleans, Louisiana

Profession

Category:
MusicMakers
Occupation(s):
Music Manager

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Beans (Red), Rice
Favorite Time of Year:
Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
None
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
4/11/1912
Birth Location:
New Orleans
See how John Levy is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Renowned music manager John Levy was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, on April 11, 1912. His mother was a midwife and nurse and his father was an engine stoker on the railroad. At the age of six, the Levy family moved to Chicago, and as he went through school, a teacher encouraged him to find a stable job at the post office.

Levy, however, had dreams of music, and by 1944 he was in New York playing bass for the Stuff Smith Trio at the Onyx Club. Over the next few years, Levy played with a number of other jazz notables, including Ben Webster, Errol Garner and Milt Jackson, as well as with Billie Holiday at her comeback performance at Carnegie Hall in 1948. In 1949, Levy joined the George Shearing Quartet, and as they toured the country he took on the role of road manager. In 1951, he put performing aside and became a full-time manager for the group, becoming the first African American to work as a personal manager in the pop and jazz music industry. Over the ensuing years, he represented a number of other jazz stars, including Nat and Cannonball Adderley, Nancy Wilson, Ramsey Lewis, Herbie Hancock, Roberta Flack and Wes Montgomery to name just a few.

Levy is still active as a manager after more than fifty years in the business. He has also recently written a book on his experiences in the record industry entitled Men, Women and Girl Singers: My Life as a Musician Turned Talent Manager. Former Los Angeles mayor Tom Bradley honored him by proclaiming a John Levy Day, and in 1997 he was inducted into the International Jazz Hall of Fame.

Levy passed away on January 20, 2012 at the age of 99.

See how John Levy is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of John Levy interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - John Levy's favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - John Levy talks about his mother's background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - John Levy talks about his father's background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - John Levy discusses differences between his mother and father's upbringings
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - John Levy remembers his mother's professional life
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - John Levy recalls childhood memories
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - John Levy shares childhood experiences in New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - John Levy describes attending Mardi Gras
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - John Levy remembers living in Chicago as a child
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - John Levy remembers peddlers in Chicago
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - John Levy recalls Chicago's 1919 race riot
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - John Levy talks about his childhood lifestyle
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - John Levy discusses gang activity during grade school
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - John Levy tells of his early musical endeavors
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - John Levy shares memories of grade school teachers
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - John Levy talks about his relationship with religion
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - John Levy explains his relocation from Chicago to New Orleans
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - John Levy remembers his high school years
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - John Levy discusses life during the Great Depression
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - John Levy discusses Chicago gangsters during the 1930s
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - John Levy recalls jobs he held after high school
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - John Levy recalls playing with Stuff Smith and other musicians
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - John Levy remembers managing George Shearing
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - John Levy names other talent he managed
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - John Levy talks about differences in pay between the music business and show business
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - John Levy explains struggles of singer Dakota Staton, part I
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - John Levy explains struggles of singer Dakota Staton, part 2
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - John Levy shares his thoughts on the working relationship between talent and manager
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - John Levy explains his ethical code in representing talent
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - John Levy states reasons for not getting involved in the hip-hop music industry
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - John Levy talks about Nancy Wilson's public image
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - John Levy discusses common fears that black entertainers have regarding management
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - John Levy talks about his relationship with Arsenio Hall
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - John Levy describes Nancy Wilson's successes
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - John Levy talks about Nancy Wilson's commitment to family life
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - John Levy explains his participation in the 'Soul to Soul' concert
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - John Levy discusses his photography hobby
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - John Levy discusses Letta Mbulu's career
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - John Levy shares his hopes for the African American community
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - John Levy talks about his family life and marriages
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - John Levy looks back on his image in the music business
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - John Levy considers his legacy