Stan Levey was truly a renaissance man. From modest beginnings, he became a drumming star on 52nd Street with Bird and Diz while still a teenager, went on to be a professional boxer, then to a guy in his 20s searching for answers to life and living, then to a return to music and a new life in Los Angeles. After this came a career as a professional photographer, and being a successful businessman who put both of his sons through med school. This is not only a renaissance man--this is a real man! Every time adversity reared its ugly head, Stan gave it a left hook, flattened it and went straight ahead. Our art form needs more people with the talent and courage that Stan Levey personified.
I worked with him for three years at the Lighthouse. He was a marvelous person and a hell of a musician. He was an all-around good guy. He came out of a hard world, being a boxer and some of the other adventures that he had been involved in. He was actually a big teddy bear--but don't get him mad 'cause he'll kill you, and he could. He was a marvelous musician and he was a very gentle guy.
I most certainly will remember him as one of my most favorite drummers. We were both in Stan Kenton's band, but at different times. All the guys who were with Stan Levey in Stan Kenton's band, other guys I talked with, thought he was the best big-band drummer there was.