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Gary Lewis and The Playboys

Gary Lewis and The Playboys

Gary Lewis and The Playboys, 1960s era pop act (f. 1964). Membership: Gary Lewis, voc, drm. (b. N.Y., July 31, 1946); Alan Ramsey, gtr. (b. N.J., July 27, 1943); John West, gtr. (b. Unrichville, Ohio, July 31, 1939); David Walker, kybd. (b. Montgomery, Ala., May 12, 1943); David Costell, bs. (b. Pittsburgh, Pa., March 15, 1944).

Gary Lewis is the son of noted comedian and actor Jerry Lewis. Not knowing of his famous parentage, producer Snuff Garrett discovered his band at one of their regular gigs at Disneyland. Garrett and his cohort, musician Leon Russell, took the band under their wing and started producing them. The hits started coming immediately, fast and furious. Their debut single was a song with the sprightly beat and harmonies similar to the Beatles; ’This Diamond Ring” topped the pop charts and went gold. It remains an evergreen on most oldies stations.

This began a phenomenal run for the band through the 1960s. The group had four more Top Ten hits in 1965, including “Count Me In” (#2), “Save Your Heart for Me” (#2 pop, #1 adult contemporary), “Everybody Loves a Clown” (#4), and “She’s Just My Style” (#3). As a live attraction, they sold out houses around the world, and were especially popular in the Philippines, where they sold out an 18,000-seat venue for 24 performances. They appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show five times between 1965 and 1967. In 1966, the group landed four more Top 20 hits: “Sure Gonna Miss Her” (#9), “Green Grass” (#8), “My Heart’s Symphony” (#13), and “(You Don’t Have To) Paint Me a Picture” (#15). Lewis was drafted, but put some material into the can before he went into the Army for two years. “Where Will the Words Come From” topped out at #21 and “Girls in Love” barely scratched the Top 40 at #39. A leftover from a 1965 session, “Sealed with a Kiss,” rose to #19 in 1968.

By the time he got out of the service, pop music had passed him by. Although he had no more hits, his music remained in the pop culture consciousness. “My Heart’s Symphony” and “Count Me In” made the U.K. Top Ten during the 1970s. “She’s Just My Style” became the basis for an automobile advertisement late in the 1980s. In 1989, he played himself in the NBC movie My Boyfriend’s Back. The group, although with new personnel save for Lewis, continues to do well on the oldies circuit.

Discography

This Diamond Ring (1965); A Session with Gary Lewis & The Playboys (1965); Everybody Loves a Clown (1965); She’s Just My Style (1966); Playboys (1967); Listen (1967); (You Don’t Have To) Paint Me a Picture (1967); New Directions (1967); Close Cover Before Playing (1968); Gary Lewis Now! (1968); Rhythm (1969); Rhythm of the Rain (1969); I’m on the Right Road Now (1969); Everybody Loves a Clown/She’s Just My Style… (1992); Gary Lewis & The Playboys (1992).

—Hank Bordowitz

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