Morris Levy

Morris Levy

Real Name:
Moishe Levy
Profile:
American record label owner, and music businessman.

Born: 27 August 1927 in The Bronx, New York City, New York, USA.
Died: 23 May 1990 in Ghent, Columbia County, New York, USA.

Levy became a notorious music industry mogul, primarily as the owner of the renowned Manhattan jazz club Birdland and as president of Roulette Records, one of the largest independent outlets in recorded music at the time.

A tough and troublesome teenage runaway, Levy briefly served in the Navy before working in the nightclub scene of New York in the mid 1940s. He then ran Topsy's Chicken Roost and his adjoining jazz venue the Cock Lounge. Levy was in the right place at the right time as the jazz explosion hit New York, with artists like Charlie 'Bird' Parker at its center. Levy promised Bird he would create him a club where he could spread his wings. At the close of the 1940s Levy opened 'Birdland', at 1678 Broadway on 52nd Street. The importance of the club in the history of jazz is perfectly reflected in the film "Bird".

Within the phenomenal success of Birdland and its growing line-up of artists Levy astutely spotted another opportunity, which typically had a shady side. Turning the Congressional ASCAP law to his advantage he formed Patricia Music, acquiring rights to songs first performed in his clubs, like George Shearing's jazz standard Lullaby of Birdland. (Publishing name example at Ronnie Hawkins and The Hawks (2) - Southern Love / Love Me Like You Can). He also began the questionable practice of adding his name to credits to increase his revenue streams, tangling at one point with John Lennon in court over publishing rights.

Levy became a label owner in late 1955 when he acquired a stake in George Goldner's Tico Records, Rama and Gee labels. Goldner relinquished his stake in January 1957, when Levy formed Roulette Records to handle the three labels and release new recording artists on Roulette. In 1962 Goldner's Gone Records and End labels also became part of Levy's empire, which spanned every aspect of the industry- from juke-box installations and nightclubs, to retail outlets and labels.

As the industry became more corporate and effectively began to tidy up its act, Levy found himself in a corner as a result of his shady activities. In 1988 he was exposed as a 'mob' conspirator. A Federal jury in Camden, N.J., convicted him of conspiring to extort money from a Philadelphia-area record distributor. Levy was sentenced to 10 years in prison, fined $200,000 and released on bail to appeal. His appeal failed but, before he could surrender to the court he died of liver cancer at his farm in Ghent.
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Morris Levy Discography

Writing & Arrangement

The Teenagers Featuring Frankie Lymon* The Teenagers Featuring Frankie Lymon* - The Teenagers Featuring Frankie Lymon (Album) Gee US 1956 Sell This Version
Frankie Lymon And The Teenagers* The A, B, C's Of Love (as Levy) Frankie Lymon And The Teenagers* - The A, B, C's Of Love / Share (Single) Apex (3) Canada 1956 Sell This Version
DNZ.10093 El Boy (2) With The Ralph Sayho Calypso Singers* Tonight My Heart She Is Crying (as Moishe) El Boy (2) With The Ralph Sayho Calypso Singers* - Jack, Jack, Jack (Eu-Tu-Gu-Ru) / Tonight My Heart She Is Crying(Shellac, 10") Columbia DNZ.10093 New Zealand 1957 Sell This Version
R-4257 Frankie Lymon With Rudy Traylor's Orch.* Creation Of Love (as Moishe) Frankie Lymon With Rudy Traylor's Orch.* - Little Bitty Pretty One / Creation Of Love(7", Single) Roulette R-4257 US 1960 Sell This Version
Jackie Wilson You Don't Know What It Means Jackie Wilson - Years From Now (Single) Brunswick US 1961 Sell This Version
Aki Aleong And His Licorice Twisters Ya Ya Aki Aleong And His Licorice Twisters - Twistin' The Hits (Album) Reprise Records US 1961 Sell This Version
Joey Dee And The Starliters* Joey Dee And The Starliters* - Hey, Let's Twist (Single) Columbia UK 1962 Sell This Version
Louisiana Red Louisiana Red - Red's Dream / Ride On Red, Ride On (Single) Roulette US 1962 Sell This Version
Mimo (7) Y Los Jumps Pippermint Twist (as Levy) Mimo (7) Y Los Jumps - Speedy Gonzalez (EP) Philips Spain 1962 Sell This Version
Les Chaussettes Noires Hey, Let's Twist (as M. Levy) and 1 more… Les Chaussettes Noires - Je Reviendrai Bientôt / Shout Shout / Roly Poly / Hey, Let's Twist (EP) Barclay France 1962 Sell This Version
R-4460 Sonny Lester & His Orchestra Theme For Gypsy Sonny Lester & His Orchestra - A Pretty Girl Is Like A Melody(7", Single) Roulette R-4460 US 1962 Sell This Version
TEP 2 Joey Dee & The Starliters Joey's Blues (as Levey) and 1 more… Joey Dee & The Starliters - Twistin' With Joey Dee! Volume II(7", EP, TP) Roulette TEP 2 New Zealand 1962 Sell This Version
60325 Les Chaussettes Noires Hey, Let's Twist (as M. Levy) Les Chaussettes Noires - Je Reviendrai Bientôt / Hey, Let's Twist(7", Single) Barclay 60325 France 1962 Sell This Version
R-4456 Joey Dee And The Starliters* Keep Your Mind On What You're Doin' (as Levy) Joey Dee And The Starliters* - I Lost My Baby(7", Single) Roulette R-4456 US 1962 Sell This Version
TEP 1 Joey Dee & The Starliters Roly Poly (as Levey) and 1 more… Joey Dee & The Starliters - Hey Let's Twist! Volume 1(7", EP, TP) Roulette TEP 1 New Zealand 1962 Sell This Version
Little Eva Let's Turkey Trot Little Eva - Let's Turkey Trot / Down Home (Single) Dimension (2) US 1963 Sell This Version
Solomon Burke Tonight My Heart She Is Crying Solomon Burke - If You Need Me (Album) Atlantic US 1963 Sell This Version
Various Little Girl Of Mine (as Levy) and 2 more… Various - Golden Goodies - Vol. 2 (Comp) Roulette US 1963 Sell This Version
Sam & Dave You Ain't No Big Thing Baby (as Levy) Sam & Dave - You Ain't No Big Thing Baby / It Was So Nice While It Lasted (Single) Roulette US 1963 Sell This Version
The Essex What I Don't Know Won't Hurt Me (as Levy) The Essex - A Walkin' Miracle (Single) Roulette UK 1963 Sell This Version
Sarah Vaughan Icy Stone (as Levy) Sarah Vaughan - Star Eyes (Album) Roulette, Roulette US 1963 Sell This Version
Sonny Lester & His Orchestra Bumps & Grinds (as Levy) and 5 more… Sonny Lester & His Orchestra - How To Strip For Your Husband (Album) Roulette, Roulette US 1963 Sell This Version
Orchestra Conducted By Sonny Lester* Dance Of Enticement (as Levy) and 11 more… Orchestra Conducted By Sonny Lester* - Little Egypt Presents More How To Belly Dance For Your Husband (Album) Roulette US 1963 Sell This Version
R 25200 Louisiana Red Louisiana Red - The Lowdown Back Porch Blues(LP, Album) Roulette R 25200 US 1963 Sell This Version
SLP-1099, (S)LP 1099 Ray Barretto & His Orchestra* Walkin' Miracle (as Levy) Ray Barretto & His Orchestra* - The Big Hits Latin Style(LP) Tico Records, Tico Records SLP-1099, (S)LP 1099 US 1963 Sell This Version