Lou Levy, longtime music publisher who began his career during the Tin Pan Alley era and later published the Beatles first American hit, “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” died Oct. 31 of congestive heart failure in New York City. He was 84.
Levy’s Leeds Music published the first songs of Henry Mancini and the first songbook of Bob Dylan. He also is credited with furthering the careers of Eddie Fisher, Bobby Darin, Connie Francis, Woody Herman, Steve Lawrence and Petula Clark
Levy started out as a ballroom dancer. He formed Leeds Music in 1935 with friends, lyricist Sammy Cahn and composer Saul Chaplin when the trio realized that it was more profitable to have their own company than sell their songs to publishers.
He later provided Frank Sinatra with several of his hit recordings including “All or Nothing at All” (Sinatra’s first hit) and “Strangers in the Night.”
He also helped discover and nurture such writing talents Cahn and Chaplin, Mancini, Dylan, Norman Gimbel, and Charles Strouse.
Levy once managed the Andrews Sisters and his selection of their repertoire helped commercialize the boogie woogie phenomenon. He was also briefly married to Maxene Andrews, who died Oct. 21.
In the 1960s, Levy helped usher in the bossa nova craze with the works of its chief composer, Antonio Carlos Jobim, including “The Girl from Ipanema.”
He is survived by his wife, Julie; a son, Lou Leeds Levy of Santa Monica; and two adopted children, Aleda and Peter, of Salt Lake City. His stepson, Michael Sukin, is an international entertainment copyright attorney who represents the estates of George Gershwin and Elvis Presley.