Men Women, and Girl Singers: My Life As a Musician Turned Talent Manager
By John Levy with Devra Hall
Foreword by Quincy Jones
Beckham Publications Group, 2001 — ISBN 0-931761-74-3
When John Levy was a boy, his teacher told him to get a job in the Post Office so he would have security in life. He didn’t listen. Today, he is known internationally as one of the top men in his field. As a personal manager to more than eighty-five artists, Levy has made millions of dollars for his clients, who have risen from sometimes-total anonymity to the rarefied heights of success.
Like many Southern black children of his era, John Levy saw his formal education end before it had barely begun. Yet today, his astonishing business acumen has won the respect of people at every level of the music industry—from the struggling artists to the corporate brass of the recording giants.
Even now there are few places in the world where a young person can learn the intricacies of personal management. In Levy’s day there were none. John’s university was the street parades in 1920s New Orleans, and the jazz musicians riding on the floats; it was the Savoy Ballroom in Chicago, and Clarence Black’s house band; and the sound of Duke Ellington and the Glenn Miller bands; and Benny Goodman at the Sherman Hotel and Fletcher Henderson at the Grand Terrace.
Though Levy is an accomplished musician in his own right, it is the business aspect of the music industry to which he has dedicated his life. From the time he reluctantly put aside his bass to handle the business affairs of the George Shearing Quintet in 1951, he has learned how to guide a raw talent to polished professionalism.
Working in the dual roles of both performer and road manager, he gradually grew into a career in personal management. But his drive pushed him even further, and soon he was promoting concerts and producing records. His years of success in all these areas has earned him an impeccable reputation in the entertainment industry, where he is both respected and admired by other managers, booking agents, concert promoters, enter- tainment lawyers and accountants, record company executives, and last but not least, the artists themselves.
Over the decades John Levy Enterprises, Inc. has handled a most impressive roster of musical artists. A very brief listing of the 85+ artists includes: Cannonball Adderley, Betty Carter, Randy Crawford, Roberta Flack, Herbie Hancock, Shirley Horn, Freddie Hubbard, Ahmad Jamal, Abbey Lincoln, Ramsey Lewis, Herbie Mann, Les McCann, Wes Montgomery, George Shearing, Dakota Staton, Stanley Turrentine, Joe Williams, and Nancy Wilson.