Bobby Lewis

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Bobby Lewis
Birth nameRobert Alan Lewis
Born(1925-02-09)February 9, 1925
Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.
DiedApril 28, 2020(2020-04-28) (aged 95)
GenresRhythm and blues, rock and roll
Years active1950s–2020

Robert Alan Lewis (February 9, 1925 – April 28, 2020)[1] was an American rock and roll and rhythm and blues singer, best known for his 1961 hit singles "Tossin' and Turnin'" and "One Track Mind".


Lewis was born in Indianapolis, Indiana and was raised in an orphanage.[2] He learned to play the piano by age six, despite very poor eyesight. Adopted at age twelve, he moved to a foster home in Detroit, Michigan,[3] but ran away at the age of 14.[4] Growing up with the influences of the pioneer blues musicians until the advent of rock and roll, Lewis began to build a musical career in the 1950s, initially working in carnival shows, and then as a singer with the Leo Hines Orchestra in Indianapolis. He made his first recordings for the Spotlight label, and then recorded "Mumbles Blues" for Chess Records in 1952. At one stage he was managed by Nat Tarnopol, who also managed Jackie Wilson.[4]

Lewis moved to New York City, and his 1960 recording of "Tossin' and Turnin'" on the Beltone label went to No.1 for seven weeks on the Billboard chart in summer 1961. It sold over one million copies and was awarded a gold disc.[3] Later in 1961, Lewis had a second Top Ten song, "One Track Mind", his only other major hit record (again on Beltone), charting at No. 9. Subsequent records were less successful. Beltone Records itself went out of business in 1963, and later recordings for ABC-Paramount and other labels were also commercial failures.

In a 2011 interview, Lewis said that he had lived in Newark, New Jersey since about 1980, and had become almost blind, but still performed occasionally.[5]

Lewis died on April 28, 2020, aged 95, after contracting pneumonia.[6]


  1. ^ Bobby Lewis discography at MusicBrainz
  2. ^ Unterberger, Andrew (June 13, 2020). "Bobby Lewis, '60s Singer and 'Tossin' & Turnin Hitmaker, Dies at 95". Billboard. Retrieved July 22, 2020.
  3. ^ a b Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 83. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
  4. ^ a b Bruce Eder, "Bobby Lewis: Biography", Retrieved 29 April 2020
  5. ^ Bobby Lewis: An Interview by Mark Voger for The New Jersey Star-Ledger, 2011. Retrieved 29 April 2020
  6. ^ Andrew Unterberger, "Bobby Lewis, '60s Singer and "Tossin' & Turnin" Hitmaker, Dies at 95", Hollywood Reporter, June 13, 2020. Retrieved 14 June 2020

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