International Jazz Hall of Famer John Levy dies at 99

2006 NEA Jazz Masters Gala

Paul Hawthorne/Getty Images

The late John Levy speaking at the 2006 National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Gala.

Groundbreaking jazz manager John Levy has died. Levy was the first prominent African American personal manager in the jazz and pop music scene.

Levy was already an accomplished double-bassist before he became a manager in the 1950s. He hailed from New Orleans and performed with the likes of Billie Holiday, Erroll Garner and others. After joining pianist George Shearing's original quintet, he eventually became Shearing's full-time manager.

Later, Levy formed his own management agency, John Levy Enterprises Inc.

Over the years, Levy represented nearly 90 artists, including Cannonball Adderley, Herbie Mann and Nancy Wilson.

Here's a rendition of "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You," sung by Nancy Wilson:

In 1997, Levy was inducted into the International Jazz Hall of Fame, and in 2006, the National Endowment for the Arts recognized Levy as a Jazz Master, the nation's highest jazz honor.

Devra Hall Levy posted on her husband's website that he passed away Friday in his sleep at his home in Altadena. He would have turned 100 in April.

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