About Lou Levy
Lou Levy, 84, Publisher of Decades of Hit Songs By WILLIAM GRIMES Published: November 04, 1995
Lou Levy, whose company published songs by Sammy Cahn, Bob Dylan, Henry Mancini and others, died on Tuesday at his home in Manhattan. He was 84 and lived in Manhattan and London.
In a music publishing career that began on Tin Pan Alley in the 1930's, Mr. Levy amassed a catalogue that included the hit songs "Strangers in the Night," "Downtown," "C'est Si Bon," and "The Girl From Ipanema." He published the Beatles' first hit in the United States, "I Want to Hold Your Hand," and developed the careers of artists like the Ames Brothers, the Andrews Sisters, Les Paul, Connie Francis and Bobby Darin.
Mr. Levy was born on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and attended public schools. After dropping out of high school, he started out as a ballroom dancer. In 1935, while working in a dance act at the Apollo Theater, he persuaded Jimmy Lunceford to hire Sammy Cahn, the lyricist, and Saul Chaplin, the composer, to provide the Lunceford Orchestra with material. In 1939, after scoring a smash hit with "Bei Mir Bist Du Schon" for the Andrews Sisters, the three men formed Leeds Music. The name came from the brand name of a suit that Mr. Levy and Mr. Cahn took turns wearing in their hungry early days.
Mr. Levy, who became sole owner of Leeds Music soon after its creation, had a keen eye for writing talent and a gift for matching artists with the right songs. He selected the repertory for the Andrews Sisters, one of whom, Maxene, he married. They were divorced in 1951. He supplied Frank Sinatra with "Strangers in the Night" and "I'll Never Smile Again," the Everly Brothers with "Let It Be Me," Tom Jones with "It's Not Unusual."
Mr. Levy published Bob Dylan's first songbook and the first songs by Gordon Lightfoot, as well as songs by jazz artists like Louis Armstrong, Benny Carter and Dizzy Gillespie. He was also instrumental in bringing the work of foreign songwriters like Charles Aznavour, Gilbert Becaud, Charles Trenet and Antonio Carlos Jobim to the United States.
In 1964, MCA Music purchased Leeds Music Group.
Mr. Levy served on the board of Ascap from 1958 to 1970. In 1987 the Songwriters Hall of Fame gave him its Abe Olman Award for Excellence in Music Publishing.
He is survived by his third wife, Julie, of London, and three children: Lou, of Santa Monica, Calif., and Aleda Levy Hunt and Peter, both of Salt Lake City. His second marriage, to Clare Levy of Manhattan, ended in divorce.