Bebop drummer Stan Levey died on April 19, 2005, just two months after undergoing cancer surgery. He was 79. The former boxer was inspired by Chick Webb and recorded over 1400 recordings including more than 300 Motion Pictures.
Musician Terry Gibbs describes his friend, who also provided percussion for Frank Sinatra and Barbra Streisand, as the perfect jazz drummer: "He sat back there and gave you that good time to where you can go anywhere you want to go rhythmically and musically."
Stan Levey was born in Philadelphia in 1925. As a youngster, he showed promise as a boxer, and considered it briefly as a career, but music prevailed. He played in Philly with Dizzy Gillespie's group in 1942, at the tender age of 17. Soon after, he went to New York, where he and Dizzy worked on 52nd Street with Charlie Parker and Oscar Pettiford.
Levey worked with most of the big names in the music business including Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Coleman Hawkins, Art Tatum, Ben Webster, Dexter Gordon, Errol Garner, Miles Davis, George Shearing, Lester Young, Roy Eldridge, Zoot Simms, Stan Getz, John Lewis, Ray Brown, Sonny Stitt, Barney Bigard, Gerry Mulligan, Vince Guaraldi, Lee Konitz, Bud Shank, Charlie Ventura, Scott LaFaro, Victor Feldman, Art Pepper, Charlie Barnett, Benny Goodman, Stan Kenton, Woody Herman, Quincy Jones, Georgie Auld, Charlie Ventura, Boyd Reaburn, Nelson Riddle, Billy May, Skitch Henderson, The Tonight Show Band, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Frank Sinatra, Gary Crosby, Pat Boone, Barbara Streisand, The Supremes, Vic Damone, Nancy Wilson, Nat King Cole, Sarah Vaughn, etc.
He also made several albums with his own quintet, and an Album with his good friend and master drummer Max Roach.
Levy also worked on a host of television show soundtracks and theme tunes including Mission: Impossible, Batman And The MunsterS.
In 1973, Levy turned his back on professional drumming to pursue a career as a photographer.