Morris Levy

Morris Levy

Real Name:
Moishe Levy
Profile:
Born 27 August 1927, The Bronx, New York City, New York, USA
Died 23 May 1990, 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

GLP-701 The Teenagers Featuring Frankie Lymon* The Teenagers Featuring Frankie Lymon* - The Teenagers Featuring Frankie Lymon Gee GLP-701 US 1956 Sell This Version
D B 3858 Frankie Lymon And The Teenagers* The A, B, C's Of Love (as Levy) Frankie Lymon And The Teenagers* - Share (Single) Columbia D B 3858 Netherlands 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
55219 Jackie Wilson You Don't Know What It Means Jackie Wilson - Years From Now (Single) Brunswick 55219 US 1961 Sell This Version
R-6011 Aki Aleong And His Licorice Twisters Ya Ya Aki Aleong And His Licorice Twisters - Twistin' The Hits(LP, Album) Reprise Records R-6011 US 1961 Sell This Version
45-DB 4803 Joey Dee And The Starliters* Joey Dee And The Starliters* - Hey, Let's Twist (Single) Columbia 45-DB 4803 UK 1962 Sell This Version
R-4469 Louisiana Red Louisiana Red - Red's Dream / Ride On Red, Ride On(7", Single) Roulette R-4469 US 1962 Sell This Version
433.870 PE Mimo (7) Y Los Jumps Pippermint Twist (as Levy) Mimo (7) Y Los Jumps - Speedy Gonzalez (EP) Philips 433.870 PE Spain 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
70 458 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(7", EP) Barclay 70 458 France 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
70 458 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(7", EP) Barclay 70 458 France 1962 Sell This Version
BLY 60325 Les Chaussettes Noires Hey, Let's Twist (as M. Levy) Les Chaussettes Noires - Je Reviendrai Bientôt / Hey, Let's Twist(7", Single) Barclay BLY 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
R-4456 Joey Dee Keep Your Mind On What You're Doin' (as Levy) Joey Dee - I Lost My Baby / Keep Your Mind On What You're Doin'(7", Single, Promo) Roulette R-4456 US 1962 Sell This Version
SBGE 80345 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(7", EP) Barclay SBGE 80345 Spain 1962 Sell This Version
1006 Little Eva Let's Turkey Trot Little Eva - Let's Turkey Trot / Down Home (Single) Dimension (2) 1006 US 1963 Sell This Version
8085 Solomon Burke Tonight My Heart She Is Crying Solomon Burke - If You Need Me(LP, Album) Atlantic 8085 US 1963 Sell This Version
R-25210 Various Little Girl Of Mine (as Levy) and 2 more… Various - Golden Goodies - Vol. 2 (Comp) Roulette R-25210 US 1963 Sell This Version
R-4480 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 R-4480 US 1963 Sell This Version
R-4515 The Essex What I Don't Know Won't Hurt Me (as Levy) The Essex - A Walkin' Miracle (Single) Roulette R-4515 US 1963 Sell This Version
(S)R-52100, SR 52100 Sarah Vaughan Icy Stone (as Levy) Sarah Vaughan - Star Eyes (Album) Roulette, Roulette (S)R-52100, SR 52100 US 1963 Sell This Version
R 25186, R-25186 Sonny Lester & His Orchestra Bumps & Grinds (as Levy) and 5 more… Sonny Lester & His Orchestra - How To Strip For Your Husband (Album) Roulette, Roulette R 25186, R-25186 US 1963 Sell This Version