Born : November 19, 1939 in Itta Bena, near Greenwood, Mississippi, USA
Died : September 10, 2004 in Los Angeles, California, USA.
Not to be confused with jazz bassist (born in Nashville, Tennessee, USA) Jimmy Lewis (2) (1918-2000).
In his youth Lewis travelled extensively, leading to doubts about his place of birth. Some sources suggest this was Nashville, Tennessee, although Itta Bena, Mississippi, seems more likely. While still young, he settled in Los Angeles where he became interested in making a career in music, in particular developing a talent for writing lyrics. He made records for various small labels, enjoying modest success for ERA Records with "Wait Until Spring" and "What Can I Do Now". In the mid-60s he joined Bill Pinkney, Gerhart Thrasher and Bobby Hollis in The Drifters. Later in the 60s, he teamed up with Ray Charles to record a duet, "If It Wasn't For Bad Luck". Lewis' relationship with Charles was very successful and in 1969 he was co-composer and arranger for Charles' Grammy Award-nominated "Doing His Thing". Lewis also recorded several 45s for Charles' Tangerine Records and continued writing material for Charles into the 90s.
Although Lewis recorded as a raw and emotional soul singer, he is best remembered as a writer of soul lyrics, collaborating with Cliff Chambers, Arthur Adams, Frank Johnson, Raymond Jackson and Rich Cason among several composers. Artists who have sung his songs, often on record, are Bobby Bland, Solomon Burke, Ry Cooder, Rita Coolidge, Leon Haywood, Z.Z. Hill, Albert King, Latimore (2), Denise LaSalle, Little Richard, Johnnie Taylor, Ted Taylor, and Bobby Womack. Among songs in Lewis' repertoire, many of which are his own compositions, are "No Chicken Wings", "String Bean", "Stop Half Loving These Women", "I'm Just Doing To You (What You Done To Me)", "Help Me Understand You", "The Love Doctor", "How Long Is A Heartache Supposed To Last", "It Ain't What's On The Woman", "Betty This And Betty That", "Still Wanna Be Black Again", "Don't Send A Girl To Do A Woman's Job", "Wife #1, Wife #2" and "That Baby Ain't Black Enough".
In the early 1990s, Lewis started his own label, Miss Butch Records, on which he recorded Peggy Scott, "I'm Willing To Be A Friend" and "Bill", and Chuck Strong, as well as himself through into the year before his death in 2004.
Jimmy Lewis Discography
- 2 Vocals
- 2 Instruments & Performance
- 142 Writing & Arrangement
- 5 Featuring & Presenting
- 1 Conducting & Leading
- 40 Production
- 1 Technical