Tommy Dorsey: Livin' in a Great Big Way - A Biography

Overview

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...

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Tommy Dorsey: Livin' in a Great Big Way, A Biography

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Overview

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's brightest star—his tumultuous life, his turbulent times, and the unforgettable music that made him a legend.

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Editorial Reviews

Midwest Book Review
An excellent biographical survey of Dorsey and his impact on an era.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780306815027
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press
  • Publication date: 11/8/2006
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 435,749
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet 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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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2005

    A tragic character-right out of a Shakespeare drama

    Peter Levinson has addressed the task of writing a scholarly in depth biography of a pop culture figure -and he has succeeded. When doing such a bio. there is an overwhelming need to rely on anecdotes derived from personal interviews, as opposed to written letters and other documents. This becomes increasingly difficult as the dramatist personae in the subject's life (especially now in Dorsey's) pass away. Wouldn't it have been great if instead of promoting the biopic. 'The Fabulous Dorseys' Tommy (and maybe Jimmy too) hired a writer to do a biography of their lives. While I'm sure it would have been slanted and biased favoring the brothers, it would have given Levinson a spring board-something to hang his hat on. Absent that, Peter Levinson has done a creditable job in putting together a scholarly yet entertaining and revealing book about a character who even today piques the interest of musicians and non musicians alike. What would Tommy Dorsey have become if his artistic skills on the trombone as well as his other talents not been subjected to the harsh realities of life?

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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