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mjzee

Godfather of the Music Business: Morris Levy

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Just learned of this biography, published in March.

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Amazon

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Interesting...wondering how much overlap there will be between this and Hit Men. Hopefully enough to deepen the story but not so much as to be redundant.

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Looks from the reviews, and what I've read elsewhere, like he was a gangster, or gangster wannabe.

Oh well, in the words of the great bard Myron Cohen: 'Everybody gotta be somewhere'...

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Remember (or remember reading about?) when Mingus got called crazy and the like for saying that "gangsters ran jazz"? Pretty sure he was referring to Levy, at least as a starting point.

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5 hours ago, JSngry said:

Remember (or remember reading about?) when Mingus got called crazy and the like for saying that "gangsters ran jazz"? Pretty sure he was referring to Levy, at least as a starting point.

And he recorded that Mingus Three album with Hampton Hawes on Roulette.  Levy seems to have known how to play George Goldner for all he was worth.  Did not realize (or remember) that Levy also owned Birdland.  Hit Men is one depressing book, especially since it rings true...

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Almost any thing you can imagine about him is probably true.

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There's a lot about him in Tommy James' autobiography "Me and the Music and the Mob".  Actually it's called "Me, the Mob and the Music." 

Edited by medjuck

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This is from the Tommy James entry in wikipedia, about how "The Hanky Panky" ended up on Roulette:

The men made the rounds of the major recording labels, getting initial potential offers from most companies they visited. One label, Roulette Records, gave no initial response because its head, Morris Levy, was out of town until evening; Roulette was one of the last stops on their visit.[3] By the next morning, Mack, Rubin, and James were now receiving polite refusals from the major record companies after the enthusiasm for the record the day before. James said, "We didn't know what in the world was going on, and finally Jerry Wexler over at Atlantic leveled with us and said, 'Look, Morris Levy and Roulette called up all the other record companies and said, "This is my freakin' record." (laughs) and scared 'em all away – even the big corporate labels.'" Their only option would be to sign with Roulette.[4]

 

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14 hours ago, Chuck Nessa said:

Almost any thing you can imagine about him is probably true.

:D

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From an interview with Robbie Robertson in today's NY Post (https://nypost.com/2020/02/19/the-bands-robbie-robertson-on-his-adventures-with-dylan-dali-warhol-and-scorsese/):

As a founding member of The Band — which recorded classics such as “The Weight” and “Stage Fright” — the guitar player and songwriter born Jaime Royal Robertson, now qualifies as rock royalty. But some 60 years ago, when he was just a teenage guitar prodigy in the hot rockabilly group Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks, Robertson, now 76, simply wanted to get his due on a songwriting credit and attendant royalties.

To that end, Hawkins brought him up to see Morris Levy — a record-label boss with a habit of adding his name to songs his label put out, whether he contributed to the music or not. Remembering that Levy was flanked by “rough-looking guys in black mohair suits,” Robertson tells The Post, “Morris looks at me, looks at Ronnie and says in a gravely voice, ‘He’s a good-looking kid. If you ever have to do time, it’d be good to have him with you.’ I was, like, ‘Holy s–t!’ I figured that I would forego this problem with the songwriting thing.”

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