Thursday, October 23, 2008

Peter J. Levinson Passes

January contributing editor Tom Nolan brings us the sad news that, after a life spent in music, author Peter J. Levinson passed away earlier this week. From Variety:

Veteran music PR exec and jazz music expert Peter J. Levinson died Oct. 21 of head injuries due to a fall at his Malibu home. He was 74.

For nearly two years, he had suffered from ALS, (Lou Gehrig's disease) and was unable to speak. However, with the aid of his talking computer, he was able to carry on business as usual until the day he died.

In addition to repping musicians and actors from Count Basie to Mel Torme to Joel Grey, Levinson was also a noted biographer. His books included "Trumpet Blues -- The Life of Harry James," "September in the Rain: The Life of Nelson Riddle" and the Tommy Dorsey biography, "Livin' in a Great Big Way." He had recently completed his fifth book, a study of the life and work of Fred Astaire, "Puttin' On the Ritz," which will be published in March.

In the opening paragraph of an affectionate 2001 interview for January Magazine, Nolan remarked:
As America ages, it more and more disproves F. Scott Fitzgerald's dictum that American lives have no second acts. Case in point: Peter J. Levinson, who in the last few years has transformed himself from one of America's premier jazz publicists into one of America's most enterprising vintage-popular music biographers.
Nolan lets us know that, in the time since “we ran that Q&A, Peter wrote a well-received biography of Tommy Dorsey, and he’d finished one on Fred Astaire which will be published next spring.”

Tom Nolan’s January Magazine interview with Levinson is here.



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