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Tommy Dorsey: Livin' in a Great Big Way-A Biographyby Peter J Levinson
Synopses & Reviews
Swing has never gone out of style. It was the music the Greatest Generation danced to-and went to war to. And no musician evokes the Big Band era more strikingly than Tommy Dorsey, whose soaring trombone play and hit tunes influenced popular music for a generation. Tommy Dorsey (1905-1956) led a rich and complex life. Beginning with his childhood in the coal mining towns of Pennsylvania, we follow the young trombonist's journey to fame and fortune during the jazz age. Tommy, with his brother Jimmy, created one of the most popular bands of the era and played with such giants as Bing Crosby and Glenn Miller. They also launched the career of a skinny young singer named Frank Sinatra. But Tommy's volcanic personality eventually split the band and Tommy went off on his own. Drawing on exhaustive new research and scores of interviews with the musicians who knew him best, Levinson delves into Dorsey's famously eccentric lifestyle and his oversize appetite for drink, women, and perfection. The first biography on Dorsey in more than thirty years, Tommy Dorsey is a dazzling portrait of the Big Band era's brightest star-his tumultuous life, his turbulent times, and the unforgettable music that made him a legend.
"Levinson, a former entertainment publicist, booking agent and personal manager, delivers a definitive biography of trombonist-bandleader Dorsey (1905 — 1956). As children in Pennsylvania coal mining country, brothers Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey practiced daily, and music became their ticket out. By 1930, their versatility was evident; they did 15 radio shows a week in New York, while also performing for movie soundtracks, dance dates and theater pit jobs. Hit records followed after the Dorsey Brothers Orchestra signed with Decca in 1934, but blow-ups between the brothers led Tommy to quit the following year. The split led to two bands, both successful, and in 1939, Tommy wisely hired Frank Sinatra away from Harry James. Reunited as the Fabulous Dorseys, the brothers introduced Elvis Presley to the national TV audience on Stage Show, their 1954 — 1956 CBS series. Levinson's authoritative approach, layered with details, makes this book a bonanza for big band fans. He shares an arsenal of anecdotes, having interviewed over 160 people, including family, friends and ex-Dorsey musicians. The result is a striking portrait of Tommy Dorsey — 'volatile, demanding, yet charming and engaging' — and a successful recreation of the swing era's glory days. 32 photos. Agent, Sasha Goodman. (Nov. 30)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
To commemorate the centennial of the artist's birth, the definitive biography of the legendary jazz giant Tommy Dorsey
About the Author
Peter J. Levinson is the author of Trumpet Blues: The Life of Harry James and September in the Rain: The Life of Nelson Riddle. He has worked for four decades in the entertainment business as a publicist, freelance writer, booking agent, and personal manager. He lives in California.
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