Gary Lewis & the Playboys
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|Gary Lewis & the Playboys|
Gary Lewis & the Playboys in 1964
|Genres||Rock, Pop, Rock and roll|
|Years active||1965-1970, sporadic later|
|Website||Gary Lewis & The Playboys|
|Past members||Gary Lewis
Gary Lewis & the Playboys were a 60s era pop and rock group fronted by musician Gary Lewis, otherwise son of comedian Jerry Lewis. They are best known for their 1965 Billboard Hot 100 number-one single "This Diamond Ring." Known for an earnest, boy-next-door image similar to British invasion contemporaries such as Herman's Hermits and Gerry & the Pacemakers, the group folded in 1970, but a version later resumed touring and this still continues as of 2011, often playing for veteran's benefits.
The group auditioned for a job at Disneyland, without telling Disneyland employees about Lewis' celebrity father. They were able to do this because they were known then as Gary & the Playboys. They were hired on the spot, audiences at Disneyland quickly accepted them, and the Playboys were soon playing to a full house every night.
Band leader Les Brown had known Jerry Lewis for years, and he told record producer Snuff Garrett that the younger Lewis was playing at Disneyland. After listening to the band, Garrett thought using Gary's famous name might sell records. Garrett took them into a recording studio with the song "This Diamond Ring" in a session financed by Jerry Lewis' wife Patti. However, according to Lewis, the Playboys were not allowed to play their instruments except on the backing tracks. Garrett wanted to maximize the chances for a hit, so he insisted on using experienced session musicians for the overdubs, which included guitar and keyboard solos, additional bass and drum overdubs, and timpani. These musicians included Tommy Allsup on guitar, Leon Russell on keyboards, Joe Osborn on bass, and Hal Blaine on drums, collectively known as The Wrecking Crew. Session singer Ron Hicklin did the basic vocal track. Garrett then added Lewis’s voice twice, added some of the Playboys and more of Hicklin. "When I got through, he sounded like Mario Lanza," Garrett commented.
Garrett got airplay in New York City for "This Diamond Ring" by making a deal with WINS disc jockey "Murray the K" Kaufman, who ran a series of all-star concerts at theaters around the New York area, promising that if he played Lewis’ record, the Playboys would do his shows. Garrett then had Jerry Lewis use his contacts to get his son onto The Ed Sullivan Show. However, Sullivan had a general policy that all acts appearing on his show were to perform live. Since so many studio tricks had been used on the record, the Playboys could not re-create its sound. In compromise, Lewis sang along with pre-recorded tracks as the Playboys pretended to play their instruments. The January 1965 broadcast made Gary Lewis and the Playboys instant stars. "This Diamond Ring" went to #1, sold over one million copies by April 1965, and became a gold disc. However, by the end of 1965 only West and Lewis remained in the band. Other later band members included Tommy Tripplehorn (father of actress Jeanne Tripplehorn), Carl Radle (died 1980), Jimmy Karstein, Randy Ruff, Pete Vrains, Bob Simpson, Adolph Zeugner, Les John, Wayne Bruno, and Dave Gonzalez.
In 1965, Gary Lewis was Cash Box magazine's "Male Vocalist of the Year," winning against nominees Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra. The group was one of only two acts during the 1960s whose first seven Hot 100 releases reached that chart's top 10 (The Lovin' Spoonful was the other): "This Diamond Ring" (#1), "Count Me In" (the only non-British Commonwealth record in the Hot 100's Top 10 on 8 May 1965, at #2), "Save Your Heart for Me" (#2), "Everybody Loves a Clown" (#4), "She's Just My Style" (#3), "Sure Gonna Miss Her" (#9), and "Green Grass" (#8). Lewis was drafted into the U.S. Army in January 1967, with previously made recordings continuing to reach the Hot 100 but with lessening success. On his 1968 discharge Lewis immediately returned to recording, reaching the top 40 one last time with a top 20 remake of Brian Hyland's "Sealed With A Kiss", but unable to regain his group's earlier momentum. Lewis continued touring, eventually marketing the band as a nostalgia act. He also appeared and performed on many of his father's Labor Day telethons for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
In all, Lewis had eight gold singles, seventeen Top 40 hits (but only fifteen Hot 100 entries (U.S.)), and four gold albums. In addition to The Ed Sullivan Show, he appeared on American Bandstand, Shindig!, Hullabaloo, The Sally Jessy Raphaël show, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, The Mike Douglas Show, Nashville Now and Wolfman Jack. Despite the group's US success, it made no progress at all in the UK; nevertheless, at a time when British groups were dominating the American music scene, Gary Lewis & The Playboys was one of the few successful 1960s homegrown groups.
- Gary Lewis - Drums and vocals (b. July 31, 1946)
- David Walker - Guitar (b. May 12, 1943)
- Allan Ramsay - Bass (b. July 27, 1943, d. November 27, 1985)
- David Costell - Guitar (b. March 15, 1944)
- John West - "Cordovox" (electronic accordion) (b. July 31, 1939)
|1965||"This Diamond Ring"||1||6||Liberty 55756|
|"Count Me In"||2||49||Liberty 55778|
|"Doin' the Flake"
(Kellogg's Corn Flakes Promo Release)
|"Save Your Heart for Me"||2||60||Liberty 55809|
|"Everybody Loves a Clown"||4||62||Liberty 55818|
|"She's Just My Style"||3||53||Liberty 55846|
|1966||"Sure Gonna Miss Her"||9||72||Liberty 55865|
|"Green Grass"||8||64||Liberty 55880|
|"My Heart's Symphony"||13||98||Liberty 55898|
|"(You Don't Have To) Paint Me a Picture"||15||58||Liberty 55914|
|"Where Will the Words Come From"||21||99||Liberty 55933|
|1967||"Way Way Out"
(Way...Way Out Promo Release)
|"The Loser (with a Broken Heart)"||43||98||Liberty 55949|
|"Girls in Love"||39||-||Liberty 55971|
|1968||"Sealed with a Kiss"||19||74||Liberty 56037|
|"Main Street"||-||-||Liberty 56075|
|1969||"Rhythm of the Rain"||63||-||Liberty 56093|
|"I Saw Elvis Presley Last Night"||-||-||Liberty 56144|
|1970||"I'm on the Right Road Now"||-||-||Liberty 56158|
|1972||"Then Again Maybe"
(Gary Lewis Solo)
|1975||"One Good Woman"
(Gary Lewis Solo)
- This Diamond Ring - Liberty LRP-3408 (Mono)/LST-7408 (Stereo) - #26, 3/65
- A Session With Gary Lewis & The Playboys - Liberty LRP-3419/LST-7419 - #18, 9/65
- Everybody Loves a Clown - Liberty LRP-3428/LST-7428 - #44, 12/65
- She's Just My Style - Liberty LRP-3435/LST-7435 - #71, 3/66
- Hits Again! - Liberty LRP-3452/LST-7452 - #47, 5/66
- Golden Greats - Liberty LRP-3468/LST-7468 - #10, 10/66
- Original copies are mispressed as Side 2, Track 2 plays "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" instead of "I Won't Make That Mistake Again." Later copies include the correct track.
- Mono versions of the above two albums feature the hit single version of "Sure Gonna Miss Her" with horns. Stereo copies include the original version without horns.
- You Don't Have to Paint Me a Picture - Liberty LRP-3487/LST-7487 - #79, 2/67
- Original copies are mispressed as Side 1, Track 4 plays "Ice Melts in the Sun" instead of "Tina (I Held You in My Arms)." Later copies include the correct track.
- Gary Lewis & the Playboys - Sunset SUM-1168/SUS-5168 - 1967
- New Directions - Liberty LRP-3519/LST-7519 - #185, 7/67
- Listen! - Liberty LRP-3524/LST-7524 - 1967
- Gary Lewis Now! - Liberty LRP-3568/LST-7568 - #150, 8/68
- More Golden Greats - Liberty LST-7589 - 1968
- Rhythm—Sunset SUS-5262 - 1969
- Close Cover Before Playing - Liberty LST-7606 - 1969
- Rhythm of the Rain / Hayride - Liberty LST-7623 - 1969
- I'm on the Right Road Now - Liberty LST-7633 - 1969
- Legendary Masters Series - 1990
- The Complete Liberty Singles - Collector's Choice Music - 2009
- "Gary Lewis and The Playboys". Classic Bands. Retrieved 30 January 2011.
- Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 177. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
- "8 May 1965 Hot 100". Billboard.com. Retrieved 2012-04-10.