[JPL] Music exec Peter J. Levinson dies Industry vet repped Count
Basie, Mel Torme
Jazz Promo Services
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Thu Oct 23 12:21:34 EDT 2008
Posted: Wed., Oct. 22, 2008, 2:56pm PT
Music exec Peter J. Levinson dies
Industry vet repped Count Basie, Mel Torme
By ASSOCIATED PRESS
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.
Born in Atlantic City, N.J., Levinson graduated the U. of Virginia. He began
writing about jazz artists for school and local publications and produced
jazz concerts while at college, continuing while serving in the U.S. Army in
Korea. In 1958, he began working in publicity for Columbia Records.
At Columbia, he worked on campaigns including the Grammy winning "Robert
Johnson: The Complete Recordings," which helped bring attention to the
resurgence of blues as an art form. He then became an agent for MCA, working
with big bands like Harry James and Charlie Barnet. He also wrote for
national magazines, publishing several stories on Frank Sinatra, and was in
demand as a writer of liner notes.
Under his Peter Levinson Communications banner, he represented musicians and
actors including Louis Bellson, Dave Brubeck, Charlie Byrd, Rosemary
Clooney, Chick Corea, Phyllis Diller, Art Garfunkel, Erroll Garner, Stan
Getz, Woody Herman, Earl "Fatha" Hines, Frank Langella, Peggy Lee, Jack
Lemmon, Wynton Marsalis, Johnny Mathis, the Glenn Miller Orchestra, Modern
Jazz Quartet, Artie Shaw and George Shearing.
Prior to forming his own company, he worked with John Springer Associates,
representing personalities including Barbara Walters, Roger Williams and
Tony Randall and working on publicity for films such as "Z," "Fiddler On the
Roof" and the Clint Eastwood spaghetti westerns.
His television and film work included spearheading the launch of "Dallas,"
and campaigns for "The Big Red One" and "Kramer vs. Kramer."
Levinson also worked on events such as unveiling the Duke Ellington postage
stamp, Woody Herman's anniversary concerts at Carnegie Hall and the
Hollywood Bowl and the 60th anniversary of Decca Records.
Levinson is survived by his wife, former "60 Minutes" producer Grace
Diekhaus, and a brother.
Donations may be made to the U. of Virginia, c/o Cecelia Baber, Director of
Gift Accounting, Office of Development and Public Affairs, U. of Virginia,
P.O. Box 400807, Charlottesville, VA 22901-4807, in memory of Peter
-- Pat Saperstein
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