Narrow Reviews... Rick Levy's New Book

A Lifetime in Music

Rick Levy’s musical life recounted in “High in the Mid 60’s - How to Have a Fabulous Life in Music Without Being Famous”

By Dave Kosciolek

For 50ish years, Rick Levy has been making a living in music. He’s worn the hats of a performer, a musician, a manager, a booking agent, an educator, and pretty much every other hat associated with a musical act touring or recording. He has worked directly with the Box Tops, Peter Noone, Jay and the Techniques, Tommy Roe, and many others. In his new book, “High in the Mid 60’s - How to Have a Fabulous Life in Music Without Being Famous,” Levy talks about taking opportunities when they arise, and how making pottery and doing yoga help keep him physically and mentally able after all these years. But the only thing better than reading the book is talking to the man himself.

Rick and I have some things in common. We love rock ‘n roll history, we are both from the northeast, and we both knew Greg Trooper, someone I like to call the greatest songwriter that ever lived that nobody heard of. Trooper’s name came up when I mentioned that Levy is not a household name, and most people have never heard of him or his accomplishments. I wondered if there was someone more famous that Levy felt mirrored his own history and he named Dave Edmunds. Edmunds had bigger hits, and a bigger profile, but between his music, collaborations, studio work, and running his own career, I liked the analogy.

The book is loaded with interesting, sometimes fascinating, anecdotes about the music industry. Like the time Levy’s band, Wax, accepted a $50k contract from mega-hit-maker Bob Crewe in 1969, only to have Crewe’s label shut down by the IRS just as the deal was about to commence. Levy calls himself the “bridesmaid” and “every man” as to why people will relate well to his story. He was friends for years with the iconic Box Tops founder Alex Chilton, and replaced Chilton after his untimely death. The last “real” job Levy had, one with benefits, was teaching for 3 years in the 1980’s. Oh yeah, Levy also talks about his UPenn Ivy degree. In case you hadn’t figured it out yet, Levy is pretty damn smart.

As much as I loved reading the book, I was curious as to who Levy felt was his intended audience. Without blinking, he rattled off the three primary audiences: Baby boomers, veteran musicians, and younger musicians in their 20’s and 30’s. It’s funny because he seemed telling me, as I did hearing him tell me, that the younger generation has been highly receptive to the book. Levy feels part of the reason is that “something’s missing” for musicians today, who are focused more on the glamour of success via mediums like The Voice. “What happens when that doesn’t happen?” he asked me. He feels young musicians find “inspiration” in his book, because when their dream of American Idol or YouTube fame fails, Levy’s multifaceted music career can give them hope.

If you like music, music history, or the memoir of an entrepreneur who found ways to make a living in the music industry for half a century, then check out this book. It’s available at Amazon in print, e-book, and audio. One last piece of advice from Levy to those trying to make a music career – to think and act outside the proverbial box: “Don’t get locked in your own thing. It’s too small.”

dave kosciolek