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Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Rudy Lewis born 23 August 1935

Rudy Lewis (born Charles Rudolph Harrell; August 23, 1936 – May 20, 1964) was an American rhythm and blues singer known for his work with the Drifters. In 1988, he was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 
Lewis was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He began his singing career in gospel music. He was one of only two males to have sung with the Clara Ward Singers and sang with the gospel group right up to the day before he auditioned for George Treadwell at Philadelphia's Uptown Theatre where he was hired on the spot. Lewis joined the Drifters in 1960 as lead vocalist and moved to New York City.

Rudy Lewis is probably the most underrated of all the Drifters' lead singers. He had the bad fortune to come in after Ben E. King redefined the group's sound, and never got the recognition that King did. By the time that "Save the Last Dance For Me" hit the charts (autumn 1960), King had already recorded his first solo session and was about to emerge as a hit maker in his own right. His successor in the Drifters was Rudy Lewis, a man with a rich, soulful voice.  
Lewis brought the newly emergent voice of "soul" to the Drifters at the very time the group was being directed out of their R&B roots into the pop mainstream. The stature of the Drifters was such that all NYC publishers scrambled to get their best numbers recorded by the group. Thus The Drifters came to record songs from the top pop composers of the day : Carole King and Gerry Goffin , Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil and Burt Bacharach and Hal David.

Lewis was the lead vocalist for a string of hits: "Please Stay", "Some Kind of Wonderful", "Up On The Roof" and "On 
Broadway". He also featured on other tracks such as: "Another Night With The Boys", "Beautiful Music", "Jackpot", "Let The Music Play", "Loneliness Or Happiness", "Mexican Divorce", "Only In America", "Rat Race", "She Never Talked To Me That Way", "Somebody New Dancing With You", "Stranger On The Shore", "Vaya Con Dios" and "What To Do". 

This was the golden era of Brill Building pop. "Up On The Roof" and "On Broadway" went Top 10 and "Please Stay" and "Sweets For My Sweet" made the Top 20.; After mid-1963 their sessions would be supervised by Bert Berns.

In April 1963, Lewis recorded his solo single ”Baby I Dig Love” along with the B-side ”I've Loved You So Long”. The record was released the following month, but never reached the charts.  

On May 21, 1964, when the group was due to record ”Under The Boardwalk” which had been written for Lewis, he was found dead in his Harlem hotel room from the prior night. Former lead vocalist Johnny Moore was brought back to perform lead vocals for the recording. The next day, the Drifters recorded”I Don't Want To Go On Without You” which was led by Charlie Thomas in tribute to Lewis. 

An autopsy was never performed and authorities ruled his death as a probable drug overdose. However, close friends and family believe he died from a mixture of a drug overdose, asphyxiation and a heart attack .Others who knew him say that Lewis, who was a binge eater, choked to death in his sleep. After Rudy died, the make-up of the Drifters stabilized for two years at: Johnny Moore, Charlie Thomas, Gene Pearson, and Johnny Terry. Dying at the age of 27 made Lewis an early member of the 27 Club. 

(Info mainly edited from Wikipedia and Black Cat Rockabilly)


1 comment:

boppinbob said...

For “THE DRIFTERS - All Time Greatest Hits & More (1959-1965)” go here:


1. There Goes My Baby
2. Oh My Love
3. Baltimore
4. Hey Senorita*
5. Dance With Me
6. True Love, True Love (IF YOU CRY)
7. This Magic Moment
8. Lonely Winds
9. Nobody But Me
10. Save the Last Dance for Me
11. I Count the Tears
12. Sometimes I Wonder*
13. Please Stay
14. Room Full Of Tears*
15. Sweets for My Sweet
16. Some Kind of Wonderful
17. Loneliness Or Happiness
18. Mexican Divorce
19. Somebody New Dancing With You*
20. Jackpot

CD 2-

1. She Never Talked To Me That Way
2. When My Little Girl Is Smiling
3. Stranger On The Shore*
4. What to Do
5. Up On the Roof
6. Another Night WIth The Boys
7. I Feel Good All Over*
8. Let The Music Play*
9. On Broadway
10. I'll Take You Home
11. If You Don't Come Back
12. Didn't It
13. One Way Love
14. He's Just a Playboy
15. Under the Boardwalk
16. I Don't Want to Go On Without You
17. I've Got Sand in My Shoes
18. Saturday Night at the Movies
19. At the Club
20. Come On Over to My Place

A big thank you to Ludovico @ Entre Musica for original link.