Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Jazz Publicist and Biographer Peter Levinson Dies at 74

Peter J. Levinson, a music industry publicist and biographer who specialized in the big bands, died October 21 of head injuries due to a fall in his Malibu home. He was 74. For nearly two years he suffered from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), which had eventually robbed him of his ability to speak. Despite that, with the help of a talking computer, he worked tirelessly for the industry until the day he died.

Among Levinson’s clients during his near half-century in the business were such artists as Stan Getz, Peggy Lee, Dave Brubeck, Chick Corea, Wynton Marsalis, Mel Tormé, Count Basie, Erroll Garner, Johnny Mathis, Art Garfunkel, Charlie Byrd, Earl “Fatha” Hines, Artie Shaw and Rosemary Clooney. He was the author of Trumpet Blues: The Life of Harry James, September in the Rain: The Life of Nelson Riddle and Tommy Dorsey: Livin’ in a Great Big Way. His biography of Fred Astaire, Puttin’ On the Ritz, will be published next year.

Born in Atlantic City, N.J. in 1934, Levinson began writing about jazz while in college. He worked for Columbia Records in the late ’50s and then moved into publicity, working at MCA and John Springer Associates before forming his own Peter Levinson Communications. In addition to musical artists, he also represented a number of TV and film projects and personalities.

Originally Published