Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

LEWIS, Ramsey Jr

(b 27 May '35, Chicago) Piano, leader, composer. Studied piano from age six, later Chicago Music College and De Paul U; formed a trio '56 with Eldee Young on bass, occasionally cello (b 7 Jan. '36, Chicago), Isaac 'Red' Holt on drums (b 16 May '32, Rosedale MS); they had played together in teenage band; stayed together until '66 when Young and Holt were replaced by Cleveland Eaton and Maurice White, who was replaced by Maurice Jennings '70. Ramsey Lewis And His Gentlemen Of Jazz was the first of more than 30 albums '56--71, nearly all made in Chicago, released on Cadet or Argo (Consider The Source with Young and Holt reissued on Chess CD), sometimes with added orchestra and/or voices, popular among jazz fans from the beginning, the commercial formula breaking through to nationwide audience with a kind of polite soul music, not unfaithful to roots: broke club records and sold out Carnegie Hall. A Christmas LP '62, Bach To The Blues and Live At The Bohemian Caverns '64 reached Billboard top 200 pop LPs; The In Crowd '65 was no. 2 LP incl. no. 5 title single, an instrumental cover of a song by Dobie Gray. Thirty Lewis LPs charted altogether '62--84, incl. Hang On Ramsey! and Wade In The Water '66 (top 20); 13 Hot 100 singles '64--9 were nearly all instrumental covers of pop hits: 'Hi-Heel Sneakers', 'Hang On Sloopy', 'Wade In The Water', Beatle songs. Lewis also played on a Max Roach session for Argo, later on Chess UK in two-disc compilation Percussion Discussion. He switched to Columbia '72, in top 20 LPs with Sun Goddess '74 incl. tracks with Earth Wind and Fire; charted with Don't It Feel Good '75, Salongo '76, Love Notes '77, Tequila Mockingbird '77, Legacy '78, Routes '80, Three Piece Suite '81, The Two Of Us '84 with Nancy Wilson. Also Blues For The Night Owl on Odyssey (CBS budget label), Reunion with Holt and Young '82, Fantasy '85, Keys To The City '87, Urban Renewal '89, We Meet Again with Billy Taylor.