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Smiley Lewis

Dave Bartholomew has often been quoted to the effect that Smiley Lewis was a "bad luck singer," because he never sold more than 100,000 copies of his Imperial singles. In retrospect, Lewis was a lucky man in many respects -- he enjoyed stellar support from New Orleans' ace sessioneers at Cosimo's, benefited from top-flight material and production (by Bartholomew), and left behind a legacy of marvelous Crescent City R&B.

Born with the unwieldy handle of Overton Lemons, Lewis hit the Big Easy in his mid-teens, armed with a big, booming voice and some guitar skills. He played clubs in the French Quarter, often with pianist Tuts Washington (and sometimes billed as "Smiling" Lewis). By 1947, his following was strong enough to merit a session for DeLuxe Records, which issued his debut 78, "Here Comes Smiley." Nothing happened with that platter, but when Lewis signed with Imperial in 1950 (debuting with "Tee-Nah-Nah") things began to move.

As the New Orleans R&B sound developed rapidly during the early '50s, so did Lewis, as he rocked ever harder on "Lillie Mae," "Ain't Gonna Do It," and "Big Mamou." He scored his first national hit in 1952 with "The Bells Are Ringing," but enjoyed his biggest sales in 1955 with the exultant "I Hear You Knocking" (its immortal piano solo courtesy of Huey Smith). Here's where that alleged bad luck rears its head -- pop chanteuse Gale Storm swiped his thunder for any pop crossover possibilities with her ludicrous whitewashed cover of the plaintive ballad.

But Storm wouldn't dare come near its roaring flip, the Joe Turner-ish rocker "Bumpity Bump," or some of Smiley Lewis' other classic mid-'50s jumpers ("Down the Road," "Lost Weekend," "Real Gone Lover," "She's Got Me Hook, Line and Sinker," "Rootin' and Tootin'"). In front of the Crescent City's hottest players (saxists Lee Allen, Clarence Hall, and Herb Hardesty usually worked his dates), Lewis roared like a lion.

Strangely, Fats Domino fared better with some of Smiley Lewis' tunes than Lewis did ("Blue Monday" in particular). Similarly, Elvis Presley cleaned up the naughty "One Night" and hit big with it, but Lewis' original had already done well in 1956 (as had his melodic "Please Listen to Me"). His blistering "Shame, Shame, Shame" found its way onto the soundtrack of the steamy Hollywood potboiler Baby Doll in 1957, but failed to find entry to the R&B charts.

After a long and at least semi-profitable run at Imperial, Lewis moved over to OKeh in 1961 for one single, stopped at Dot in 1964 just long enough to make a solitary 45 (produced by Nashville deejay Bill "Hoss" Allen), and bowed out with an Allen Toussaint-produced remake of "The Bells Are Ringing" for Loma in 1965. By then, stomach cancer was eating the once-stout singer up. He died in the autumn of 1966, all but forgotten outside his New Orleans home base.

The ensuing decades have rectified that miscarriage of justice, however. Smiley Lewis' place as one of the greatest New Orleans R&B artists of the '50s is certainly assured. ~ Bill Dahl
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Greatest R&B Hits Of 1950, Vol. 2

1. Late In The Evening Blues

2. Teardrops From My Eyes

3. Good Morning Judge

4. Rocking Jenny Jones

5. Why Do Things Happen To Me

6. Blue Light Boogie

7. Walking Blues

8. Stack-A-Lee (Part 1)

9. Boogie Rambler

10. Slippin' And Slidin'

11. Private Property Blues

12. Slim's Blues

13. Gonna Hoot And Holler Saturday Night

14. Oh Babe!

15. Mistrustin' Blues

16. Little Bee

17. Block Buster Boogie

18. S.P. Blues

19. Playboy Blues

20. Rockin' Blues

21. Tee-Nah-Nah

22. Happy Pay Day

23. Gonna Bring My Baby Back

24. Girl Fifteen

26. My Baby's Gone

27. R.B. Boogie

x

Track List: Greatest R&B Hits Of 1950, Vol. 5

1. Repentance Blues

2. Failing By Degrees

3. Baby I Don't Need You

5. Stack A'Lee Pants

6. Everything's Gonna Be Alright

7. Ham Hocks

8. Rag Mop

9. Cupid's Boogie

10. Double Crossing Blues

11. I Like My Baby Pudding

12. Feelin' Happy

13. Growing Old

14. Boogie Woogie Jockey

15. You Don't Love Me

16. I Quit My Pretty Mama

17. Bald Head

18. Sad Journey

19. Let It Roll Again

20. Hoot And Holler Saturday Night

21. School Days

22. Play Your Hand

23. Rockin' Chair Mama

24. She Walks Right In

25. Downing Street Hop

26. Man's Brand Boogie

27. My Temper Is Rising

x

Track List: I Love To Hear My Baby Call My Name (The Ego Song '45-'52)

2. Annie's Blues

6. Hey Mr. Gatemouth

10. Hey Tom Archia

11. Roscoe's Boogie

12. Ace's Wild

13. Crown Prince Blues

17. Professor Longhair's Boogie

18. Here Comes Smiley

20. Ballin' With Archie

23. Gatemouth Boogie

24. Pee Wee Special

28. Eddie's Blues

29. Muddy Jumps One

x

Track List: New Orleans Blues (1940-1953)

Disc 1

1. Gamblin' Man Blues

2. Little Woman Blues

4. Walk Your Blues Away

5. Longhair's Blues

7. Living On A Borrowed Time

9. Going Back To Louisiana

10. New Orleans Boogie

11. Don't You Lie To Me

13. Going Back To The Country

14. Jealous Blues

15. Morning Train

16. Brother Bill

18. Please Don't Leave Me

Disc 2

1. Who Drank My Beer?

2. Lonesome Highway

4. Baby Please Don't Go

6. Never Trust A Woman

7. After While

8. Cryin' In The Morning

9. Have Mercy

10. Bad Dog

11. My Baby Left Me

12. Going Back Home

13. Lying Woman

14. Early Morning Blues

15. So Long

16. Hey Little Girl

17. Beggin' At Your Mercy

18. Annie's Blues

x

Track List: New Orleans Guitar

Disc 1

1. Turn On Your Volume, Baby

2. Here Comes Smiley

3. Tee-Nah-Nah

4. Lowdown

5. Slide Me Down

6. Growing Old

7. If You Ever Loved A Woman

8. Dirty People

9. Where Were You

10. My Baby

11. Sad Life

12. Bee's Boogie

13. Don't Jive Me

14. My Baby Was Right

15. The Bells Are Ringing

16. Lillie Mae

17. You're Gonna Miss Me

18. Gypsy Blues

19. You're Not The One

20. Gumbo Blues

21. Ain't Gonna Do It

22. It's So Peaceful

23. Caldonia's Party

24. Lonesome Highway

25. Standing On The Corner

26. Oh Baby

Disc 2

1. Big Mamou

2. Play Girl

3. I Love You For Sentimental Reasons

4. Lying Woman

5. Little Fernandez

6. It's Music

7. Show Me The Way

8. Down The Road

9. Blue Monday

10. The Rocks

11. That Certain Door

12. Nobody Knows

13. Can't Stop Loving You

14. Ooh La La

15. Too Many Drivers

16. Lost Weekend

17. Jailbird

18. Farewell

19. Real Gone Lover

20. Bumpity Bump

21. I Hear You Knocking

22. I Can't Fly (Date With An Angel)

23. My Love (She's Gone)

25. Country Women

Disc 3

1. Bad Luck Is On Me

2. New Arrival

3. Standin' At The Station

5. The Things I Used To Do

6. Well I Done Got Over It

7. The Story Of My Life

8. Letter To My Girlfriend

9. Trouble Don't Last

10. Later For You Baby

11. Bad Luck Blues

12. Twenty-Five Lies

13. Sufferin' Mind

14. Stand By Me

15. Guitar Slim

16. Our Only Child

17. Reap What You Sow

19. Think It Over

20. Quicksand

21. You're Gonna Miss Me

22. I Got Sumpin' For You

23. Certainly All

25. Something To Remember You By

Disc 4

1. Long Distance Blues

2. Got No Use For You

3. I'm Still In Love With You

4. Railroad Station Blues

5. When The Sun Goes Down

6. Pony Tail

7. Wanderin' Heart

8. I'll Always Be In Love With You

9. Win-O

10. Do Unto Others

11. Every Dog Has His Day

12. Hurry, Hurry

13. Eyes Full Of Tears

14. I Need Your Love

15. You Know - Yeah

16. Runnin' Wild

17. My Idea About You

18. I Got News For You

19. Baby Don't You Cry

20. Don't Break My Heart

21. Wondering Why

22. Yours Truly

23. I Must Go On

24. Be Faithful

25. Blues Before Dawn

26. Don't Go

x

Track List: Original Swingers: Hipsters, Zoots & Wingtips, Vol.2

1. Caldonia

2. (Every Time I Hear) That Mellow Saxophone

3. Hit That Jive, Jack

4. Goin' To Chicago Blues

5. D' Natural Blues

6. And Her Tears Flowed Like Wine

9. Big Mamou

10. Blow-Top Blues

11. Reet, Petite And Gone

12. Loose Lips

13. Tippin' In

14. Cadillac Boogie

15. Pink Cadillac

16. Squeeze Me

17. Ice Cream Man

18. The Dummy Song

x

Track List: Radio Gold (Volume 3)

1. Love Is Strange

2. Willie And The Hand Jive

3. Sweet Nothin's

4. I'm In Love Again

6. Chanson D'amour (Song Of Love)

7. I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter

8. Susie Darlin'

9. The Lion Sleeps Tonight

10. Make It Easy On Yourself

11. It's In His Kiss (The Shoop Shoop Song)

12. Halfway To Paradise

13. That'll Be The Day

14. Only The Lonely

15. When

16. A White Sport Coat (And A Pink Carnation)

17. On The Rebound

18. Day-O (Banana Boat Song)

19. Singing The Blues

20. The Twelfth Of Never

21. Freight Train

22. Big Man

23. At The Hop

24. Just Walking In The Rain

25. The Garden Of Eden

26. The Green Door

27. I Hear You Knocking

28. Seven Little Girls Sitting In The Back Seat

29. Witch Doctor

30. I Go Ape

x

Track List: Snatch And Grab It!

1. Snatch And Grab It

2. Boogie Woogie Blue Plate

4. For You My Love

5. Baby Please Don't Go

6. I'm Gonna Dig Myself A Hole

7. Ain't Gonna Do It

8. Mr. Highway Man (Cadillac Daddy)

9. That Chick's Too Young To Fry

10. It Went Down Easy

11. Hydramatic Woman

12. Little Richard Boogie

14. Tiger Man

15. No Place Like Home

16. Don't Knock

17. Night Life

18. Don't Change Your Pretty Ways

19. ...What That Is!

21. Poor Me

22. Tom, Dick 'n' Harry

23. Zoom

24. Goin' Round In Circles

25. Dearest

26. I Want You To Be My Girl

27. Oh My Baby's Gone

28. Goodnight Sweetheart, It's Time To Go

29. Yes Sir

30. Tim Tam

32. The Wobble

33. Beach Party

x

Track List: The Cosimo Matassa Story

Disc 1

1. Got A Brand New Baby

2. Four O'Clock Blues

3. Don't Jive Me

4. Tra-La-La

5. Teejim

9. Stormy Weather

10. My Ding-A-Ling

11. Reeling And Rocking

12. Lawdy Miss Clawdy

13. Chee Koo Baby

14. Sweethearts

15. I'm Gone

16. Teachin' And Preachin'

17. Bouncin' The Boogie

18. Early Sunday Morning

20. Country Gal

21. Baby

22. New Bon Ton Roulay

23. Got No Use For You

24. Long Distance Blues

25. I'm Thankful

26. Little School Girl

27. I-Yi

28. Candy Girl

29. Don't Leave Me Baby

30. The Things That I Used To Do

Disc 2

1. Well, I Done Got Over It

2. Tipitina

3. Let's Have Some Fun (Honey)

4. Jock-A-Mo

5. I Didn't Want To Do It

6. You're The One

7. Blue Monday

8. Baby's Gone

9. Sister Lucy

10. 'Til I Say Well Done

11. Every Dog Has His Day

12. Bluesy Me

13. Give It Up

14. Nobody But You

16. That's Enough

18. Cat Music

19. Drunk Drunk Drunk

20. Ain't Gonna Do It

21. I Want To Be Loved

22. Toy Bell

23. You Know Yeah

24. Runnin' Wild

25. It's Too Late Now

26. Real Gone Lover

27. Low And Lonesome

28. Country Woman

29. Say Baby

30. That Night

Disc 3

1. What's It All About?

2. Handwriting On The Wall

3. Mardi Gras Mambo

4. Your Time's Up

5. Eternally Yours

6. Boom Boom

7. Feel So Good

8. I Hear You Knocking

9. Travelin' Mood

10. I Remember

11. Baby

12. So Glad

14. I'm Just A Lonely Guy

15. Tutti Frutti

16. Do Baby Do

17. Who's Been Fooling You?

18. That Girl I Married

19. Rich Woman

20. I'm In Love Again

21. On Bended Knee

22. See You Later, Alligator

24. My Blue Heaven

25. Try Rock'n'roll

26. No No No

27. Long Tall Sally

28. Slippin' And Slidin'

30. Take It Easy, Greasy

Disc 4

1. Rip It Up

2. Ready Teddy

3. Let The Good Times Roll

4. Everybody's Whalin'

8. Rock 'n' Roll Dance

9. The Girl Can't Help It

10. Heebie Jeebies

11. Don't Blame It On Me

14. Down Yonder (We Go Ballin')

15. Shame, Shame, Shame

16. Oooh-Wow

17. (Everytime I Hear) That Mellow Saxophone

18. Rockin' At Cosimo's

19. Stepping High

20. I Feel Good

21. I'm A Fool About Your Love

22. All The Time

24. Ain't Got No Home

25. Hickory Dickory Dock

26. Just To Hold My Hand

27. Oooh-Wee Baby

28. Back Home To Me

29. You Can Fly High

30. Those Lonely, Lonely Feelings

x

Track List: What's Your Name? (El Toro R&B 106)

Comments

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Feels so good when is classic music...
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I hat this song
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alissajoycru z
Awesome swinging Blues Song! Love it!
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This version of Blue Monday by Smiling Lewis is ok BUT Fats Domino is THE BEST!!!!
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This a better version of I Here You Knocking than the version by Fats Domino!!!
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As someone once said Smiley had to be the unluckiest singer around. Fats just snowed him under
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I am so sorry that I only learned about Smiley Lewis recently. Smiley rocks!
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affajbar
greezy as it gets
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fluffydynami t e
the real deal doowoop pop
Report as inappropriate
TRULY THE PIONEER OF FIFTIES BLUES MUSIC. COVERED BY MANY MANY ARTIST.
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If it hadn't been for Smiley Lewis there would never have been a 'Fats' Domino... Enter the rhythm and blues!

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