Benny Levin Profile

Chris Bourke
18 Dec 2014

Dancetime was his nickname, entertainment was his game. For years, the classified advertisement columns in the Auckland papers advertised the services of a man who was hugely influential in shaping the live music scene in New Zealand: Benny “Dancetime” Levin, pianist and promoter.

In the 1950s, Levin’s band Dancetime – or any other band contracted to his Dancetime booking agency – was available for weddings, parties, anything. In the late 1950s, he helped the Howard Morrison Quartet get its start, toured many acts such as Shane and Larry Morris in the 1960s, and in the 1970s shaped the careers of – among many others – Bunny Walters and Golden Harvest. In the post-punk era of the early 1980s, his later booking agency New Music Management ran the nationwide pub-rock circuit, with acts such as DD Smash, Dave McArtney and the Pink Flamingos, the Legionnaires, the Dance Exponents, Hip Singles and many others in its stable.

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Golden Harvest write to Benny Levin from Oamaru, year unknown
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Benny Levin in the late 1950s
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Benny and Russell tell Lew Pryme in The 8 O'Clock that they are on the hunt for new stars, September 1969
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The intro to a 1963 tour programme featuring Ben E. King, Gene McDaniels and Dee Dee Sharp - quite a line-up for the day
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Benny Levin's Cool And Crazy show programme from July 1955
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Benny Levin and His Music
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A Benny Levin "spectacular" in Hamilton in February 1967
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Benny Levin at the 1984 APRA Silver Scolls. Behind Benny are Ray Columbus and The Topp Twins
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Benny Levin and his 9-Piece Band, 1955
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Bart Stokes (left) with Benny Levin (third from left). It was Stokes who advised Benny that jazz was popular in the South Island in 1952, leading to the disasterous This is Jazz tour. The two would, however, work together for several years thereafter.
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One of the last pictures taken of Benny Levin, with Julian Clary and Louise Hunter, manager of Benny Levin Promotions, at the New Zealand Entertainment Operators with Benny's award
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Benny Levin with 89FM's Barry Everard at a Christmas party in the late 1980s
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Teenage Erana Clark was briefly a star of the Levin-Clark stable of artists, recording for Impact in the early to mid-1970s
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The programme for the July 1955 Cool And Crazy show presented by Benny Levin and Bart Stokes at Auckland Town Hall
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An outdoor season at Orewa in 1966
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In 1967 Benny Levin Agency Ltd. was renamed New Zealand Battle Of The Bands Sounds & Groups Contests Ltd. His new promotions company was Benny Levin Promotions Ltd.
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The In-Betweens win the 1970 Battle Of The Bands at Auckland's YMCA. As with most of the winners, they were then taken under the wing of Benny Levin Promotions as management and agents, and in this case they were also signed to Benny and Russell's Impact label
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An outdoor season at Orewa in 1966
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Benny Levin Promotions - the roster in 1963
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Benny Levin's standard PR shot from the early 1960s
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Perhaps the two greatest showmen of their time, Phil Warren and Benny Levin in 1991
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Benny Levin in the mid 1960s
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Benny's car parked outside his home in Papatoetoe
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Heat 2 of the 1981 Battle of The Bands, notable for The Clean (who won this night but did not win the finals).
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The first Auckland heat of the 1968 Battle Of The Bands
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The Thermalaires Vocal Quartet, a Māori group from Rotorua managed and promoted by Benny Levin in the 1950s, around the same time he discovered the Howard Morrison Quartet
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The 1970 Battle Of The Bands
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Benny Levin in the 1950s
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