I hardly seem to listen to any music newer than 1978 anymore.. Maybe it’s just a phase. But I’m 100% sure it’s an excellent phase. The 60s was the golden age of pop, and those days ain’t coming back.. at least in the exact same form.
The first new 60s group I discovered this year was Gary Lewis & The Playboys. This band truly was new to me – I had never heard any of their songs before (apart from covers - they often seem to ring a bell..). I found the band through Last.fm recommendations, I think. Last.fm is awesome because it endlessly keeps giving me great 60s music tips. Sometimes listening to those new bands feels like hitting gold right at the first moment! This is basically what happened with me and this band.
Gary Lewis is the son of comedian Jerry Lewis. Gary started a band (The Playboys) with his friends around 1964 and became drummer and lead singer. Although it wasn’t Gary’s intention to take advantage of his father’s fame, father Jerry played a part in launching the band’s recording career. That career soon turned out to be quite successful. Gary Lewis & The Playboys got their first number one hit right after they had performed their first single This Diamond Ring on The Ed Sullivan Show. The next single releases were also successful: Count Me in, She’s Just My Style, Everybody Loves a Clown and a few other tracks all made it to top 10. Gary Lewis & The Playboys continued releasing albums and singles until 1970. Gary also released solo material.
Gary Lewis & The Playboys have lots of excellent and catchy pop songs. The way I see it, The Beach Boys were one of the bands that influenced their music. Also, Lewis has a really exciting singing voice! He was, in fact, chosen “Male Vocalist of The Year” by Cash Box magazine in 1965. Other nominees included Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra.
What makes all this slightly weirder is the following section that can be found in AMG. I never even thought about stuff like this before I read it:
“It would be difficult to find a rock & roll star less likely than Gary Lewis, or a less probable chart-topping act than Gary Lewis & the Playboys. Lewis himself was possessed of a limited singing range and didn't have what could be considered good looks, yet with a lot of help he managed to make some exceptionally good (and good-selling) records out of Los Angeles, in the midst of the British Invasion, and teenagers loved him.”
As usual, here are my favourite songs, listenable on YouTube. I picked just a few.. This stuff is pure perfection. But don’t look at the videos! Music doesn’t need illustration. It's a bit strange, however, that one of the few places where you can properly stream full songs from nearly any 60s artist is a place that is meant for videos. So, Gary Lewis and his band are not in the videos that I've linked here. If you’d like to see Gary Lewis lip-synching to his songs, you’ll find those videos easily. [I just wish YouTube wouldn't remove all good music from the site..]
This Diamond Ring
Count Me in
She’s Just My Style
Everybody Loves a Clown
Gary Lewis & The Playboys Official Website (Beware of Gary’s welcoming words – they surely spooked me! Turn your speakers down when you enter the site.)