Ramsey Lewis

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ramsey Lewis
Lewis in 1998
Lewis in 1998
Background information
Birth nameRamsey Emmanuel Lewis Jr.
Born(1935-05-27)May 27, 1935
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
DiedSeptember 12, 2022(2022-09-12) (aged 87)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Genres
Occupation(s)
  • Composer
  • pianist
  • radio personality
Instrument(s)
  • Piano
Years active1956–2022
Labels
Websitewww.ramseylewis.com

Ramsey Emmanuel Lewis Jr. (May 27, 1935 – September 12, 2022) was an American jazz pianist, composer, and radio personality.[1] Lewis recorded over 80 albums and received five gold records and three Grammy Awards in his career. His album The In Crowd earned Lewis critical praise and the 1965 Grammy Award for Best Jazz Performance. His best known singles include "The In Crowd", "Wade in the Water", and "Sun Goddess". Until 2009, he was the host of the Ramsey Lewis Morning Show on the Chicago radio station WNUA.

Lewis was also active in musical education in Chicago. He founded the Ramsey Lewis Foundation, established the Ravinia's Jazz Mentor Program, and served on the board of trustees for the Merit School of Music and The Chicago High School for the Arts.

Life and career[edit]

Lewis performing at JazzFe 2006

Ramsey Lewis was born on May 27, 1935, in Chicago[2][1] to Ramsey Lewis Sr. and Pauline Lewis. He began taking piano lessons at the age of four. As a young man, Lewis played with a number of local ensembles, such as Edward Virgil Abner's Knights of Music.[3] Lewis would eventually join a jazz group called the clefs. He later formed the Ramsey Lewis Trio with drummer Isaac "Redd" Holt and bassist Eldee Young.[1] They eventually joined up with Chess Records.[4]

In 1956, the trio issued their debut album, Ramsey Lewis and his Gentle-men of Swing.[5] Following their 1965 hit "The In Crowd" (the single reached No. 5 on the pop charts, and the album No. 2) they concentrated more on pop material. Young and Holt left in 1966 to form Young-Holt Unlimited and were replaced by Cleveland Eaton and Maurice White.[1] White left to form Earth, Wind & Fire and was replaced by Morris Jennings in 1970. Later, Frankie Donaldson and Bill Dickens replaced Jennings and Eaton; Felton Crews also appeared on Lewis' 1981 album Three Piece Suite.[6]

By 1966, Lewis was one of the nation's most successful jazz pianists, having had hits with "The In Crowd", "Hang On Sloopy",[7] and "Wade in the Water." All three singles each sold over one million copies and were awarded gold discs.[8] In the 1970s, Lewis often played electric piano, although by later in the decade he was sticking to acoustic piano and using an additional keyboardist in his groups.[9]

In addition to recording and performing, Lewis hosted the weekly syndicated radio program Legends of Jazz, created in 1990, syndicated by United Stations Radio Networks.[10] He also hosted the Ramsey Lewis Morning Show on Chicago "smooth jazz" radio station WNUA (95.5 FM). In December 2006, this morning show became part of Broadcast Architecture's Smooth Jazz Network, simulcasting on other smooth jazz stations across the country until its cancellation in May 2009, when WNUA switched over to a Spanish format.[11]

Ramsey founded the Ramsey Lewis Foundation, which promoted musical instrument education to children, in 2005.[12]

In 2006, a well-received 13-episode Legends of Jazz television series hosted by Lewis was broadcast on public TV nationwide and featured live performances by a variety of jazz artists including Larry Gray, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Joey Defrancesco, Dave Brubeck, Chick Corea, Kurt Elling, Benny Golson, Pat Metheny, and Tony Bennett.[13]

Lewis was artistic director of Jazz at Ravinia (an annual feature at the Ravinia Festival in Highland Park, Illinois) and helped organize Ravinia's Jazz Mentor Program.[14] Ramsey also served on the board of trustees for the Merit School of Music and The Chicago High School for the Arts.[15]

Distinctions, honors, awards[edit]

Lewis was an honorary member of Phi Beta Sigma fraternity.[16] In May 2008, Lewis received an honorary doctorate from Loyola University Chicago upon delivering the keynote address at the undergraduate commencement ceremony.[17]

In January 2007, the Dave Brubeck Institute invited Lewis to join its Honorary Board of Friends at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California.[18] Lewis was an Honorary Board member of the Chicago Jazz Orchestra.[17]

Death[edit]

Lewis died in his sleep at his home in Chicago, on September 12, 2022, at age 87.[19][20][2][21]

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

Year Title Peak chart positions Label
US
[22]
US R&B
[22]
US Jazz
[22]
UK
[23]
1956 Ramsey Lewis and his Gentle-men of Swing Argo
1957 Ramsey Lewis and his Gentle-men of Jazz, Volume 2
1958 Lem Winchester and the Ramsey Lewis Trio
1959 Down to Earth (The Ramsey Lewis Trio Plays Music from the Soil) EmArcy
An Hour with the Ramsey Lewis Trio Argo
1960 Early in the Morning (Lorez Alexandria with the Ramsey Lewis Trio)
Stretching Out
The Ramsey Lewis Trio in Chicago
1961 More Music from the Soil
Never on Sunday
Sound of Christmas 129
1962 The Sound of Spring
Country Meets the Blues
Bossa Nova
1963 Pot Luck
Barefoot Sunday Blues
1964 Bach to the Blues 125
The Ramsey Lewis Trio at the Bohemian Caverns 103
More Sounds of Christmas 8
1965 You Better Believe Me (with Jean DuShon)
The In Crowd 2 1
Hang On Ramsey! 15 4 20 Cadet
Choice! The Best of the Ramsey Lewis Trio (compilation) 54 9
1966 Wade in the Water 16 2
The Movie Album 124 5
Goin' Latin 95 16 2
1967 Dancing in the Street 59 16 3
Up Pops Ramsey Lewis 52 25 7
1968 Maiden Voyage 55 14 3
Mother Nature's Son 156 10 3
Ramsey Lewis Live in Tokyo
1969 Encore! Ramsey Lewis in Tokyo (Vol. 2) Chess/Victor (Japan)
Another Voyage 139 34 5 Cadet
The Piano Player 157 9
1970 Them Changes 177 34 4
1971 Back to the Roots 163 25 3
1972 The Groover
The Best of Ramsey Lewis (compilation) 172 5
Upendo Ni Pamoja 79 9 1 Columbia
1973 Funky Serenity 117 4
Ramsey Lewis' Newly Recorded All-Time Non-Stop Golden Hits 198 50 32
1974 Solar Wind 29
Sun Goddess 12 1 1
Solid Ivory Cadet
1975 Don't It Feel Good 46 5 3 Columbia
1976 Salongo 77 17 7
1977 Love Notes 79 31 7
Tequila Mockingbird 111 3
1978 Legacy 149 10
1979 Ramsey 21
1980 Routes 173 51 7
1981 Blues for the Night Owl
Three Piece Suite 152 52 10
1982 Ramsey Lewis Live at the Savoy 50 12
Chance Encounter 16
1983 Les Fleurs 10
Reunion
1984 The Two of Us (with Nancy Wilson) 146 42 5
1985 Fantasy
1987 Keys to the City 22
1988 Classic Encounter
1989 We Meet Again (with Billy Taylor)
Urban Renewal
1992 Ivory Pyramid 7 GRP
1993 Sky Islands 4
1995 Urban Knights I
1996 Between the Keys 17
1997 Urban Knights II
1998 Dance of the Soul 11
1999 Appassionata 5 Narada
2000 Urban Knights III
2001 Urban Knights IV
2002 Meant to Be (with Nancy Wilson) 3
2003 Urban Knights V
Simple Pleasures (with Nancy Wilson) 9
2004 Time Flies 10
2005 Urban Knights VI
With One Voice 12
2009 Songs from the Heart: Ramsey Plays Ramsey Concord
2011 Taking Another Look 13 Hidden Beach
2019 Urban Knights VII Ropeadope
2021 Manha de Carnaval Above Ground
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released in that territory.

Singles[edit]

Year Title Peak chart positions Certifications
US Pop
[22]
US R&B
[22]
US Dance
[22]
UK
[23]
1964 "Something You Got" (as the Ramsey Lewis Trio) 63
1965 "The 'In' Crowd" (as the Ramsey Lewis Trio) 5 2
"Jingle Bells" (as the Ramsey Lewis Trio) 21
"Hang On Sloopy" (as the Ramsey Lewis Trio) 11 6
1966 "Winter Wonderland" 23
"Wade in the Water" 19 3 31
"Up Tight" 49 30
"Hi Heel Sneakers" 70
"A Hard Day's Night" 29
1967 "Soul Man" 49
"One, Two, Three" 67
"Day Tripper" 74
"Dancing in the Street" 84
1968 "Since You've Been Gone" 98
1969 "Julia" 76 37
1972 "Slipping into Darkness" 44
1973 "Kufanya Mapenzi (Making Love)" 93
1975 "Sun Goddess" (with Earth, Wind & Fire) 44 20 5
"Hot Dawgit" (with Earth, Wind & Fire) 50 61
1976 "What's the Name of This Funk (Spider Man)" 69 50 6
"Don't It Feel Good" 99
"Brazilica" 88
1977 "Spring High" 85
1981 "So Much More" 93
1982 "You Never Know" 64
1985 "This Ain't No Fantasy" 88 48
1987 "7–11" 67
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released in that territory.

As sideman[edit]

With Max Roach

With Jimmy Woode

With Young/Holt

  • Feature Spot (Cadet, 1967)[27]

Awards and recognitions[edit]

Lewis performing live in the KPLU studio in October 2009

Grammy history[edit]

Ramsey Lewis Grammy Awards History
Year Category Title Genre Label Result Source
1965 Best Jazz Performance – Small Group or
Soloist with Small Group
"The In Crowd" Jazz Argo/Chess Won [28]
1965 Record of the Year "The In Crowd (Single)" Argo/Chess Nominated
1966 Best Rhythm & Blues Group Performance –
Vocal or Instrumental
"Hold It Right There" R&B Chess Won
1973 Best Rhythm & Blues Instrumental Performance "Hang on Sloopy" R&B MCA Won

Certifications[edit]

Albums
Year Title Certification Label Source
1965 The In Crowd US RIAA: Gold Argo [8]
1966 Hang On Ramsey! US RIAA: Gold Cadet
1966 Wade in the Water US RIAA: Gold Cadet
1968 Sound of Christmas US RIAA: Gold Argo
1976 Sun Goddess US RIAA: Gold Columbia

Recognition[edit]

  • 1997: Ramsey Lewis was inducted as a Laureate of The Lincoln Academy of Illinois and awarded the Order of Lincoln (the state's highest honor) by the Governor of Illinois in the area of The Performing Arts.[29]
  • 2002: Lewis participated in the 2002 Winter Olympics torch relay, lighting the cauldron for its brief stop in Chicago.[30]
  • 2003: NAACP Image Award, Best Jazz Artist, for his album Simple Pleasures (2003)[31]
  • 2006: 22nd Annual Stellar Gospel Music Awards, Best Gospel Instrumental Album, With One Voice (2005)[32]
  • 2007: National Endowment for the Arts, Jazz Masters Award[33]
  • 2007: Landmarks Illinois, Legendary Landmark Award, as one of living treasures of Illinois. "Just like our landmarked buildings, our three Legendary Landmarks have been critical to the civic well-being of Chicago and stand as a testimony to the greatness of our cultural integrity" said David Bahlman, president of Landmarks Illinois.[34]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Larkin, Colin, ed. (1997). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music (Concise ed.). Virgin Books. p. 752. ISBN 1-85227-745-9.
  2. ^ a b Seymour, Gene (September 12, 2022). "Ramsey Lewis, the pop chart's favorite jazz pianist, dies at 87". NPR. Retrieved September 13, 2022.
  3. ^ Youngquist, Paul (2016). A Pure Solar World: Sun Ra and the Birth of Afrofuturism. Discovering America. University of Texas Press. p. 32. doi:10.7560/726369. ISBN 9780292726369. LCCN 2016005943.
  4. ^ "An Interview with Ramsey Lewis". Smoothviews.com.
  5. ^ "Ramsey Lewis: Ramsey Lewis and his Gentle-men of Swing". 45worlds.com.
  6. ^ "Felton Crews – Chicago Bassist". www.feltoncrews.com. Retrieved September 13, 2022.
  7. ^ Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 50 – The Soul Reformation: Phase three, soul music at the summit. [Part 6] : UNT Digital Library" (audio). Pop Chronicles. University of North Texas Libraries.
  8. ^ a b Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. pp. 192, 193 & 207. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
  9. ^ Blickenstaff, Jacob (September 13, 2022). "Ramsey Lewis: Life is Good". All About Jazz. Retrieved September 13, 2022.
  10. ^ "United Stations – Shows | Legends of Jazz". Unitedstations.com.
  11. ^ Rosenthal, Phil (May 22, 2009). "WNUA Swings to Spanish Format". Chicago Tribune.
  12. ^ Rice, Ruth. "Jazz legend: Ramsey Lewis bringing 'In Crowd' to Pasquerilla". The Tribune-Democrat. Retrieved September 13, 2022.
  13. ^ "On Air – Smooth Jazz WNUA 95.5 – Chicago". Archived from the original on September 18, 2008.
  14. ^ "Ravinia Festival". Archived from the original on August 17, 2007.
  15. ^ Tamarkin, Jeff. "Ramsey Lewis to Receive Lifetime Achievement Award". JazzTimes. Retrieved September 13, 2022.
  16. ^ "Honorary Members". Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity. Retrieved September 13, 2022.
  17. ^ a b Brodsky, Rachel (September 12, 2022). "Ramsey Lewis, Chicago Jazz Great, Dies At 87". Stereogum. Retrieved September 13, 2022.
  18. ^ Langan, Michael D. (July 22, 2022). "Commentary: A favorite jazz pianist – Ramsey Lewis". NBC2 News. Retrieved September 13, 2022.
  19. ^ Zee, Michaela (September 12, 2022). "Ramsey Lewis, Legendary Jazz Pianist Known for 'The In Crowd,' Dies at 87". Variety. Retrieved September 13, 2022.
  20. ^ "Ramsey Lewis, Jazz Pianist Who Became a Pop Star, Dies at 87". The New York Times. September 12, 2022. Retrieved September 13, 2022.
  21. ^ Schudel, Matt (September 13, 2022). "Ramsey Lewis, pianist with crossover hit "The 'In' Crowd," dies at 87". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 13, 2022.
  22. ^ a b c d e f "Ramsey Lewis – Awards". AllMusic. Archived from the original on November 3, 2013. Retrieved September 13, 2022.
  23. ^ a b "RAMSEY LEWIS – full Official Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved September 13, 2022.
  24. ^ "Ramsey Lewis Trio – The In Crowd". bpi.co.uk. Retrieved September 13, 2022.
  25. ^ Cook, Richard; Morton, Brian (2008). The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings (9th ed.). Penguin. p. 1221. ISBN 978-0-141-03401-0.
  26. ^ Dryden, K. "The Colorful Strings of Jimmy Woode: AllMusic Review". AllMusic. Retrieved September 18, 2012.
  27. ^ "Eldee Young / Red Holt – Feature Spot". Discogs.
  28. ^ "Ramsey Lewis". Grammy.com. November 23, 2020.
  29. ^ "Laureates by Year – The Lincoln Academy of Illinois". The Lincoln Academy of Illinois. Retrieved March 7, 2016.
  30. ^ Faillo, Tony. "Winter 2002 Olympic Torch". Worldisround.com. Archived from the original on September 27, 2011. Retrieved October 31, 2011.
  31. ^ "NAACP: Ramsey Lewis". Theenvelope.latimes.com. November 11, 2008. Retrieved October 31, 2011.
  32. ^ "Stellar Gospel Music Awards". Thestellarawards.com. Retrieved October 31, 2011.
  33. ^ "2007 NEA Jazz Master: Ramsey Lewis". Arts.gov.
  34. ^ "Legendary Landmarks Gala". Landmarks.org. Archived from the original on September 28, 2011. Retrieved October 31, 2011.

External links[edit]