Smiley Lewis Biography

Overton Amos Lemons, 5 July 1913, DeQuincy, Louisiana, USA, d. 7 October 1966, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. While failing to gain the commercial plaudits his work deserved, this New Orleans-based artist was responsible for some of that city’s finest music. He made his recording debut, as Smiling Lewis, in 1947, but his strongest work appeared during the 50s. ‘The Bells Are Ringing’ (1952) took him into the US R&B chart, and his biggest hit came three years later with ‘I Hear You Knocking’. This seminal slice of Crescent City blues featured pianist Huey ‘Piano’ Smith and band leader Dave Bartholomew, and was revived successfully in 1970 by Dave Edmunds. Smiley’s career was dogged by ill luck. His original version of ‘Blue Monday’ was a hit in the hands of Fats Domino, while Elvis Presley took another song, ‘One Night’, and by altering its risqué lyric, secured a massive pop hit in the process. A further powerful Lewis performance, ‘Shame, Shame, Shame’, has subsequently become an R&B standard and it was even covered by the Merseybeats on their EP On Stage in 1964. This underrated artist continued recording into the 60s, but died of cancer in 1966.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

RadioIO Radio