Morris Levy (August 27, 1927 – May 21, 1990) was an American music industry executive, who is best known as the owner of the record label Roulette Records. Events 479 BC - Greco-Persian Wars: Persian forces led by Mardonius are routed by Pausanias, the Spartan Year 1927 ( MCMXXVII) was a Common year starting on Saturday (link will display full calendar of the Gregorian calendar. Events 878 - Syracuse Italy is captured by the Muslim sultan of Sicily. Year 1990 ( MCMXC) was a Common year starting on Monday (link displays the 1990 Gregorian calendar) The United States of America —commonly referred to as the Roulette Records is a Record label which was founded in late 1956 by George Goldner, Joe Kolsky, Morris Levy and Phil Khals, with He was born Moishe Levy in The Bronx, New York City, New York, and generally known as Morrie Levy to insiders in the industry. The City of New York New York ( is a state in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern regions of the United States and is the nation's third most populous
Levy is frequently referred to as "The Godfather of the American music business" because of his alleged links with the Mafia (specifically the Genovese family), his reputation for cheating his (largely African-American) artists out of royalties and his reputed habit of falsely claiming authorship of songs. The Mafia (also known as Cosa Nostra) is a Sicilian Criminal Secret society which is believed to have first developed in the mid-19th century The Genovese crime family is one of the " Five Families " that controls Organized crime activities in New York City, within the nationwide African Americans or Black Americans are citizens or residents of the United States who have origins in any of the black populations of Africa
After leaving the Navy he became the proprietor of numerous night clubs in New York at the dawn of the bebop movement in the late 1940's -- the most famous of which was Birdland, which Levy allegedly took over from mobster Joseph "Joe the Wop" Catalano in 1949. Birdland is a jazz club started in New York City in December 15 1949
During this time Levy learned the value of owning the publishing rights of a piece of music - as each time a song he owned was performed or played he was entitled to royalties. As a result he founded his first publishing company, Patricia Music, and commissioned George Shearing to write a signature piece for the club - the now-famous "Lullaby of Birdland". Sir George Shearing OBE (b August 13, 1919) is a British Jazz Pianist who during the 1950s "had one of the " Lullaby of Birdland " is a 1952 popular Song with music by George Shearing and lyrics by George David Weiss.
He founded Roulette Records in 1956, where he began his alleged practice of claiming authorship on many early songs of the rock-and-roll era that he did not have a hand in composing. A notable case is the song "Why Do Fools Fall In Love", originally recorded by Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, which is presumed to have been wholly written by lead singer Frankie Lymon. Why Do Fools Fall in Love is a song that was originally a hit for early New York City-based Rock and roll group Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers Franklin Joseph "Frankie" Lymon ( September 30, 1942 &ndash February 27, 1968) was an African-American Rock and Franklin Joseph "Frankie" Lymon ( September 30, 1942 &ndash February 27, 1968) was an African-American Rock and Other questionable 1960s Levy compositions included Lee Dorsey's "Ya-Ya," Millie Small's "My Boy Lollipop," and The Rivieras' "California Sun. Lee Dorsey ( December 24 1924 – December 1 1986) was an Afro-American pop / R&B Singer during the Millie, born Millicent Small 6 October 1946 in Clarendon, Jamaica) " My Boy Lollipop " is a Song written in the mid-1950s and usually credited to Robert Spencer Morris Levy and Johnny Roberts The Rivieras was a rock group, formed in the early 1960s in South Bend, Indiana, United States. "
Levy quickly became one of the wealthiest executives in the record business, and handled distribution on many major labels in addition to his own companies. His empire included several record-pressing and tape-duplicating plants, printing presses, and other ventures, some of which authorities suspected may have been used for making pirated records or "back-door" copies of legitimate albums, distributed outside normal channels. 'Copyright infringement' (or copyright violation) is the unauthorized use of material that is covered by Copyright law in a manner that violates His reputation for being a tough negotiator was legendary; the Hollies 1966 hit song "Stop! Stop! Stop!" recounts a meeting the group had with Levy to leave Imperial Records for Roulette -- a move they decided not to make, after a nightmarish meeting with him at a New Jersey nightclub. The Hollies are an English Rock and roll band formed in the early 1960s. Year 1966 ( MCMLXVI) was a Common year starting on Saturday (link will display full calendar of the 1966 Gregorian calendar.
In the mid-1970s Levy filed a much-publicised lawsuit against John Lennon for appropriating a line from the Chuck Berry song, "You Can't Catch Me" (for which Levy owned the publishing rights) in The Beatles' song "Come Together. John Winston Ono Lennon, MBE (born Charles Edward Anderson "Chuck" Berry (born October 18 1926 in St " You Can't Catch Me " is a song written and performed by Chuck Berry, released as a single in 1956 The Beatles were a pop and rock band from Liverpool, England formed in 1960 " Come Together " is a song by The Beatles written primarily by John Lennon and credited to Lennon/McCartney. " Lennon ultimately settled with Levy by agreeing to record three songs from Levy's publishing catalogue during the sessions for his 1975 LP Rock & Roll, co-produced with Phil Spector. Year 1975 ( MCMLXXV) was a Common year starting on Wednesday (link will display full calendar of the Gregorian calendar. Rock and roll (also known as rock 'n' roll) is a form of Music that evolved in the United States in the late 1940s and early 1950s with roots in mostly African Harvey Philip Spector (born December 26 1940) is an American Record producer and Songwriter. This album was marred by Levy's impatience for Lennon to record the songs, culminating in Levy releasing an unauthorized collection, Roots, which Lennon was eventually able to pull off the market.
Levy sold Roulette Records and his publishing rights for an estimated $55 million. Although investigations into his affairs began in the early 1950s, it was not until 1986 that law officials caught up with Levy. He was tried and convicted on charges of extortion but died in Ghent, New York before serving any time in prison. Ghent is a Town in Columbia County, New York, United States, with a ZIP code of 12075
He may have been the inspiration for the character Hesh Rabkin in the HBO series The Sopranos. Herman "Hesh" Rabkin, played by Jerry Adler, is an advisor and friend to Tony Soprano on the HBO Television series, The Sopranos The Sopranos is an American Television drama series created by David Chase. Like the fictional character, Levy had a large estate in New Jersey, kept race horses, and had close ties to organized crime. However, "Sopranos" creator David Chase has only commented that Hesh was "a composite, based on several different mob-connected record label executives. "
Hit Men: Powerbrokers and Fast Money Inside the Music Business
(Vintage Books, UK, 1991)