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Drummer Stan Levey Dies

Bebop drummer Stan Levey died at age 79 in Van Nuys, Calif. on April 19. He died two months after surgery for cancer of the jaw, according to his wife, Angela. Although Levey worked with many musicians, including Peggy Lee, Ella Fitzgerald, Bobby Darin and Benny Goodman, he is best remembered for his work with Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie.

Levey was born in Philadelphia on April 5, 1926, the son of a car salesman and boxing promoter. He was a largely self-taught prodigy who played left-handed even though he was naturally right-handed. When he was 16, he went to a local club where Gillespie was playing and convinced the trumpeter to let him sit in on drums. Gillespie was so impressed he invited Levey to join his band on the spot. Levey accepted and dropped out of high school to begin his career as a drummer.

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