Wednesday, July 31, 2013

July 31: Gary Lewis of Gary Lewis & the Playboys & son of Jerry Lewis is 67-years-old today.

  Gary Lee Levitch was born July 31, 1946 in in Los Angeles, California. Gary is the son of comedian and actor Jerry Lewis and Patti Lewis (née Esther Calonico), a singer with the Ted Fio Rito Orchestra. Reportedly, his mother intended to name him after her favorite actor, Cary Grant, but a clerical error led to his naming as "Gary."

Gary received a set of drums as a gift for his 14th birthday in 1960. When he was 18, Lewis formed what would become Gary Lewis & the Playboys (then known as "Gary And The Playboys") with four other friends.

Producer Snuff Garrett wasn't aware of Gary's band until a mutual friend, conductor Les Brown, informed him that the band was playing at Disneyland. Seizing an opportunity to capitalize on the Lewis name, Garrett put Lewis' band into the studio to practice.

Garrett pushed Lewis to improve his drumming skill, even getting Buddy Rich to tutor him, and, made Lewis the singer, and therefore the focal point of the group. By Lewis' own admission, his natural singing voice was not one of his strengths, and this led Garrett to employ vocal overdubbing tricks in the studio, to enhance it. He later played the guitar.

In February 1965, "This Diamond Ring,” hit number one on Billboard magazine's Hot 100 chart making Lewis an instant star; and was named as Cash Box magazine's 1965 "Male Vocalist of the Year."

Besides the Lovin' Spoonful, the group was the only artist during the 1960s to have its first seven Hot 100 releases each reach that chart's Top 10.

In addition to "This Diamond Ring" his hits include "Count Me In" (the only non-British Commonwealth record in the Hot 100's Top 10 on 8 May 1965, "Save Your Heart for Me," "Everybody Loves A Clown," "She's Just My Style," "Sure Gonna Miss Her," and "Green Grass." By 1966, Lewis had stopped drumming altogether. 

His career was put on hold when he entered the U.S. Army as a draftee in January 1967, and he served in the Vietnam War to 1968.

After his discharge, he returned to performing and recording but did not recapture his earlier success; five releases by the band that year peaked from 13th to 39th.

Lewis retired from music, operating a music shop in San Fernando Valley in 1971, and giving drumming lessons. A brief attempt at starting a new band called "Medecine,” with Billy Cowsill of The Cowsills in 1974 did not go anywhere.

It was not until the 1980s when Lewis began touring again, with various incarnations of The Playboys, generally featuring no original members. He also appeared on his father's Labor Day Telethons for the Muscular Dystrophy Association up until 2010. 

In January 2012, Gary released a new single, "You Can't Go Back."
For more about Gary visit his Website at –


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