HomeMusicLinda Lewis, British Singer Whose Voice Knew Few Limits, Dies at 72

Linda Lewis, British Singer Whose Voice Knew Few Limits, Dies at 72


Linda Lewis, a critically acclaimed soul singer and songwriter whose pyrotechnic voice propelled 4 Top 10 singles as a solo artist in her native Britain and led to work as a backup vocalist on acclaimed albums by stars like David Bowie, Cat Stevens and Rod Stewart, died on May 3 at her residence in Waltham Abbey, outdoors London. She was 72.

Her sister Dee Lewis Clay confirmed the dying however didn’t specify a trigger.

Ms. Lewis drew raves for her hovering five-octave vocal vary and impressed listeners along with her genre-hopping instincts, drawing from folks, R&B, rock, reggae, pop and — with greater than a nudge from label executives — disco.

She grew up learning Motown hits observe by observe, and her first single, “You Turned My Bitter Into Sweet” (1967), was a joyous up-tempo quantity that sounded straight out of Berry Gordy’s recording studio on West Grand Boulevard in Detroit.

After that she joined the Ferris Wheel, a rock and soul band that was fashionable on Britain’s membership circuit, earlier than shifting on to a solo profession as a guitar-strumming singer-songwriter and signing with Reprise Records in 1971.

“That was a great time,” she stated in a 2007 interview with Record Collector journal. “I used to be dwelling in a kind of commune, and a great deal of folks have been popping out and in. Cat Stevens turned up quite a bit, as did Marc Bolan and Elton John. There was numerous jamming occurring there, some very inventive vibes.”

She ended up touring the world with Mr. Stevens, in addition to lending her voice to albums like David Bowie’s “Aladdin Sane” (1973) and Rod Stewart’s “Blondes Have More Fun” (1978).

Her first solo album, “Say No More,” launched in 1971, didn’t make a splash commercially. The subsequent 12 months she launched “Lark,” an album marked by a California breeziness that obtained sturdy evaluations and contained the tune “Old Smokey,” which the rapper Common sampled in his 2005 tune “Go!” An American tour in 1973 helped create buzz.

But nonetheless, she wanted a success.

She discovered one that very same 12 months, with the buoyant, racy single “Rock a Doodle Doo,” which hit No. 15 in Britain (though it didn’t chart within the United States) and confirmed off her vary with vocals that swung from husky lows to shimmering highs, to the purpose that the tune might be mistaken for a duet.

In the mid-Seventies, she signed with Arista Records, whose founder, Clive Davis, selected to bundle her as a disco diva like Gloria Gaynor. That choice paid dividends, a minimum of commercially. Her 1975 single “It’s in His Kiss,” a Studio 54-ready spin on Betty Everett’s 1964 hit “The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s in His Kiss),” reached No. 6 in Britain, though it, too, barely made a splash within the United States.

But Ms. Lewis bristled on the compelled profession flip. “I didn’t actually persist with my weapons, I’m afraid,” she later stated. “I noticed myself as a singer-songwriter; they didn’t.”

Even so, the album with the one, “Not a Little Girl Anymore,” hit No. 40 in Britain, with Rolling Stone noting that it introduced “this multi-styled English artist into the mainstream of up to date R&B.”

By the 2000s, her music had crossed over to a brand new era, as she sang on albums by Oasis, Basement Jaxx and Jamiroquai.

Linda Ann Fredericks was born on Sept. 27, 1950, in Custom House, an space within the docklands of East London. She was considered one of six kids of Eddie Fredericks, a musician, and Lily Fredericks, who labored as a bus conductor and managed pubs. (It is unclear why the singer selected Lewis as her stage surname.)

Her mom had nice ambitions for her as a performer and enrolled her in stage college, an expertise on which Ms. Lewis didn’t look again fondly.

Her compass was set towards music. She received her first style of the limelight in her early teenagers when her mom took her to see John Lee Hooker carry out at a membership and pushed her towards the stage to belt out, with the blues titan’s permission, a rendition of Martha and the Vandellas’ “Dancing in the Street.”

In addition to Ms. Lewis Clay, Ms. Lewis is survived by two different sisters, Shirley Lewis and Patsy Wildman; her brothers, Keith and Paul Fredericks; and her son, Jesse. Her three marriages resulted in divorce.

While Ms. Lewis angled to flee stage college on the earliest doable alternative, her flirtation with performing was not a whole waste. She made a quick look within the Tony Richardson movie “A Taste of Honey” (1961). She additionally popped up as a screaming fan within the Beatles movie “A Hard Day’s Night” (1964).

She was not the one future musical notable within the crowd of hysterical Beatlemaniacs. Phil Collins, in his schoolboy jacket and tie, was additionally on set as an as an extra. “Many years later, I ran into him and stated, ‘Hey, we made a movie collectively,’” Ms. Lewis instructed Record Collector. “He gave me a really humorous look. I feel he thought I used to be a nutter.”

Content Source: www.nytimes.com


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