|Born||Ian Geoffrey Levine
June 22, 1953
|Education||Arnold House School|
|Occupation||Disc jockey, Record producer, Songwriter|
|Known for||Blackpool Mecca, Heaven, Record Shack Records, Motorcity Records|
|Notable work(s)||Miquel Brown, Evelyn Thomas, Take That|
Ian Geoffrey Levine (born 22 June 1953 in Blackpool, Lancashire), is an English songwriter, producer, and DJ. A noted moderniser of Northern Soul music in the UK, and a developer of the style of Hi-NRG, he has written and produced records with sales totalling over 40 million. Levine is also a noted fan of the long-running television show Doctor Who.
Early and personal life
Born into a Jewish family, his parents owned and ran the "Lemon Tree" complex in Blackpool, including its casino and nightclub. Levine attended Arnold (House) School in Blackpool from 1963 to 1970. Levine is openly gay.
In 1996 Levine traced over 660 members of his own family on his mother's side and organised a Cooklin family reunion, on 21 July in London. In May 2000, Levine organised the reunion of his 1960s class 3A at Arnold School, Blackpool, which was filmed by the BBC.
Levine began collecting Motown records from the age of 13, building a collection sourced from both UK record shops and those that his visited on family holidays to Miami and New Orleans. This later extended to him becoming an avid collector of soul, R&B, and Northern Soul. After his parents emigrated to the Caribbean in 1979, Levine sold the bulk of his record collection to fund the purchase of a home in London.
Having attended some of the early Northern Soul all-nighters at "The Twisted Wheel" nightclub in Manchester with DJ Stuart Bremner, on leaving school in 1971 he became a disc jockey at the Blackpool Mecca. Levine joined other DJ's in travelling to Stoke on Trent to join the Northern Soul all-nighter "Torch", which was quickly shut down but was the fore runner of the Wigan Casino events, which Levine opened. Working with fellow DJ Colin Curtis, the pair was responsible for guiding the Northern Soul scene away from its oldies-only policy and towards modern soul and disco. This resulted in BBC Radio 1's DJ John Peel travelling to Blackpool to interview Levine.
In 1974 Levine compiled his first album "Solid Soul Sensations", which released on Pye Records got to No. 11 in the UK Singles Chart, gaining a silver disc. With the proceeds he travelled to New York City and recorded Reaching For The Best with gil band The Exciters, which reached No.31 on the UK Singles Chart selling 80,000 records. This allowed Levine to then travel to Chicago, where he signed postman L.J. Johnson, Barbara Pennington (who both after appearing on Top of the Pops reached the UK Singles Chart), as well as Evelyn Thomas. Although Thomas's 1975 record was not a success, Levine's later 1984 produced record sold seven million copies.
In 1983, the London-based record shop Record Shack offered Levine £2,000 to set-up a new joint-veture record label, Record Shack Records. Through friend Jean-Philippe Iliesco he used his Trident Studios, and formed a songwriting partnership with Fiachra Trench.
The first record from the label was So Many Men, So Little Time by Miquel Brown (step-sister of Amii Stewart and Sinitta's mother), which sold two million copies and topped the American Billboard charts. This was quickly followed by High Energy by Evelyn Thomas. The partenership with Record Shack ended in 1985, but by that time the label had sold 12 million records ad had a No.1 hit in every Western European country except the UK, where the highest record reached No.5.
Afterward his return to the UK following the financial failure of Motorcity Records, Levine wrote and produced Hi-NRG-derived singles for various bands, including Take That (he produced their first three singles), and The Pasadenas. During the 1980s and 1990s he co-wrote and mixed a number of dance-pop hits for a variety of artists, including: Pet Shop Boys; Erasure; Kim Wilde; Bronski Beat; Amanda Lear; Bananarama; Tiffany; Dollar; and Hazell Dean. He has also latterly written and produced several TV themes including "Discomania", "Gypsy Girl", "ITV Celebrity Awards Show", "Christmasmania" and "Abbamania".
Between 1997 and 1999, Levine produced and directed the documentary film The Strange World of Northern Soul, an anthology of the underground music cult. In July 1999 the event premiered at King George's Hall, Blackburn, released as a six-disc DVD box set in 2003.
Levine founded bands, including: Seventh Avenue, which featured two members of Big Fun; Optimystic; and Bad Boys Inc. During this period, Levine also maintained a friendship and rivalry with Simon Cowell. In 2010 Levine formed a new boy band called "Inju5tice". After the commercial failure of debut "A Long Long Way From Home" the band and Levine split, relaunched as ELi'Prime.
In 1987, Levine began recording some former artists from Motown. After a reunion of 60 Motown stars, including Edwin Starr and Levi Stubbs on top of a hotel opposite the original Hitsville USA building, Motorcity Records was launched as a record label. Initially distributed by PRT, then Pacific, Charly and finally Total/BMG, by the time that the label ended in the 1990s due to severe financial losses, 850 songs had been recorded by 108 artists.
Levine is well known as a fan of the BBC science fiction television series Doctor Who. Levine was, in part, responsible for the return of a number of missing episodes of the show to the BBC's archives, and was involved in stopping the destruction of further serials after he learnt that they were being discarded. He also retained many off-air recordings. In the 1980s Levine served as an unofficial continuity consultant to the series.
In 1985, when the BBC announced that the series would be placed on an eighteen-month hiatus, and the show's cancellation was widely rumoured, Levine and production manager Gary Downie gathered a group of actors from the series to record Doctor in Distress. The participants included: the series' two lead actors, Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant; Nicholas Courtney; Anthony Ainley; members of the bands Bucks Fizz, The Moody Blues and Ultravox. The single was universally panned.
On 20 April 2006, it was announced on the BBC children's show Blue Peter that Levine would purchase a life-sized Dalek for anyone who would return one of the then 108 missing episodes; details were provided on Blue Peter's website.
Several observers have speculated that the Abzorbaloff monster played by Peter Kay in the Doctor Who episode "Love & Monsters" was based on Levine and lampoons his role in fandom. The Abzorbaloff design was created by Blue Peter "Design a Doctor Who Monster"-winner William Grantham.
Levine also financed a private project to recreate the incomplete 1979 Doctor Who story Shada with animation and newly recorded dialogue from many of the surviving cast members. Levine had hoped that the project would be released on DVD, but the commissioning editor of the Doctor Who DVD range decided not to use Levine's animation on the DVD release of the story. The completed Levine version appeared on torrent sites almost two years later, on October 12, 2013.
Levine has been responsible for producing a number of extras on the Doctor Who DVD releases: the documentaries "Over the Edge" and "Inside the Spaceship" were included on the 3-disc set "The Beginning", while "Genesis of a Classic" appeared on the release for Genesis of the Daleks. Levine has also contributed to many other classic series DVDs, appearing as an in-vision interviewee on occasions, and by allowing the Restoration Team access to his private collection of rare studio footage and off-air recordings. He also composed the theme music for K-9 and Company, an unsuccessful pilot for a proposed Doctor Who spin-off series featuring the robotic dog and Sarah Jane Smith.
American comic books
Levine claims to own one of the world's largest collections of American comic books. He claims to have the only complete set of DC Comics in the world, with at least one copy of each DC comic book sold at retail from the 1930s to present. The writer and comic book expert Paul Sassienie began cataloging, grading and certificating 'The Ian Levine' collection in May 2011.
- Levine, Ian (7 February 2007). "Ian Levine CV". Ian Levine's MySpace blog. Retrieved 11 October 2010.
- "Ian Levine". DMC World Magazine. Retrieved 26 December 2013.
- Turbervill, Huw (10 October 2013). "Doctor Who: the missing episodes". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 28 December 2013.
- Bill Brewster (2 February 1999). "Ian Levine". DJ History. Retrieved 26 December 2013.
- Tom Bower. Sweet Revenge: Updated Edition.
- "Evelyn Thomas High Energy". www.allmusic.com. Retrieved 28 December 2013.
- Dunbar, Polly; Robertson, Peter (3 September 2011). "The night I smashed a Sinitta record over Simon Cowell’s head, Ian Levine paints an intimate portrait of X Factor's music mogul". Daily Mail. Retrieved 5 February 2013.
- Bailey, David (1 April 2009 (cover date)). "The Fact of Fiction: Logopolis". Doctor Who Magazine (Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent: Panini Comics) (406): 57.
- Wood, Tat (2013). About Time 7: The Unauthorized Guide to Doctor Who (2005–2006, Series 1 & 2). Des Moines, Iowa: Mad Norwegian Press. p. 396. ISBN 978-193523415-9.
- "Who cares?". www.45cat.com. Retrieved 28 December 2013.
- McGurk, Stuart (22 October 2005). "Shows of support". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 November 2006.
- "Missing Doctor Who films". Blue Peter website. bbc.co.uk. 19 April 2006. Archived from the original on 31 August 2006. Retrieved 25 November 2006.
- Petridis, Alexis (24 November 2006). "Take That, Beautiful World". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 December 2013.
- Phipps, Tim (8 August 2006). "Happy Times and Places: "Love and Monsters"". Strange Horizons. Retrieved 25 November 2006. "I've no idea if [Russell T. Davies] was explicitly thinking of Ian Levine when he wrote the Abzorbaloff, but I can't help but suspect that Levine was bouncing somewhere around the back of his head"
- Petridis, Alexis (24 November 2006). "Take That, Beautiful World". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 November 2006.
- Southall, J. T. (12 September 2011). "Doctor Who and the Shada Man". Starburst. Retrieved 4 February 2013.
- Southall, J. T. (26 October 2011). "TV News: DOCTOR WHO - SHADA Update". Starburst. Retrieved 4 February 2013.
- Zurzolo, Vincent (9 August 2005). "DC Completist Ian Levine Interview all the way from the UK!". Comic Zone. World Talk Radio. Retrieved 25 November 2006.
- Levine, Ian (15 July 2005). "The DC Collection Is COMPLETE.". Collectors Society Message Board. Retrieved 25 November 2006.
- Ian Levine's YouTube Channel
- Ian Levine's Top 40 Northern Soul Playlist "Reaching For The Best"
- Ian Levine at the Internet Movie Database
- Interview by Bill Brewster