Levey underwent surgery for cancer two months ago. He was 79.
Born in Philadelphia, Levey moved to New York in the mid 1940s and become the drummer in Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie's quintet, one of the first groups to bring the revolutionary bebop style to New York's 52nd Street.
Later, Levey played with the big bands of Woody Herman, Benny Goodman, and Stan Kenton, and accompanied vocalists Ella Fitgerald and Frank Sinatra. In the 1950s, he moved to Los Angeles, where he helped to create the "cool" West Coast style.
Among his 2,000 recordings were Bobby Darin's hit rendition of "Mack the Knife" and Peggy Lee's "Fever." He also appeared on the soundtracks of many television shows in the 1960s.
Levey retired from music in 1973 to become a photographer. He was the subject of the documentary Stan Levey: "The Original Original," released in 2003.