The ruthless force of creativity who helped found Bebop, fought John Lennon, and always got paid is back in the news!
Morris Levy, the greatest gangster in the history of the record business is the subject of Godfather of the Music Business: Morris Levy (American Made Music Series), a new biography by Richard Carlin for the University Press of Mississippi, a highly regarded publisher with full academic distribution.
Carlin’s book chronicles Levy’s rise and fall as the impresario of NYC’s Birdland jazz club. He was the founder of Roulette Records, and an acquisitions expert in catalog building for his music publishing concerns. He was an Italian mob affiliate starting from his days as a teenage hooligan. He died after getting indicted by the U.S. Justice System; before ever going to prison.
Legend has it that as a teenage runaway, Levy hitchhiked from NYC to Miami to work in the hatcheck and photo concessions at mob owned clubs on Miami Beach.
Henry Stone and Morris Levy were locked up a few miles away from each other in competing orphanages during the Great Depression.
Levy’s dealings with Stone ran decades. A few of them, such as their partnership in pioneering electro hip hop label Sunnyview Records are mentioned in the book, as are Levy and Stone’s shaping of the career and downfall of infamous DJ Alan Freed who took the fall for payola.
Carlin’s otherwise well researched work loses some authority for its conjecture about numerous of Levy’s actions and motivations related to business operations, but is still going to give students and scholars an interesting perspective on the music industry throughout the golden age of vinyl.
Be sure to check out Richard Carlin’s website for more info.
Here are some screenshots of the Henry Stone mentions.
This article was written by ©Jacob Katel. All Rights Reserved