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Being a long term fan of Dr Feelgood, Wilko Johnson and/or Eddie & The Hot Rods automatically means to have heard the name (and harmonica) of Lew Lewis here and there. Well known as ''Canvey Islands Son'' this guy has left various footsteps in the musical history of Canvey and its surroundings. Anytime I check the weekly log files of these web sites' search engine the keyword ''Lewis'' is listed. A definite proof, Lew is remembered by the fans, they continue to search for info, are interested in getting to know what and how he's doing. One thing is fact, no book about special people from Canvey can leave out the crazy character which is Lew Lewis!
The ones who don't know whom we're talking about should check out the All Music Guide page for Lew (don't forget to add Wilko Johnson to the huge list of people Lew worked with).
Lew Lewis at the 10th Lee Brilleaux Memorial, The Oysterfleet, Canvey Island, England - 9.May 2003
[Following is old news in the meantime, I just keep it for the record.] I wish to have better news, but on August 16th 2001 Wilko Johnson (who is good friend of Lew since decades) called and told me that Lew is seriously ill. He is in hospital since 5 weeks now and it's not sure if he will recover. Currently it seems he's getting better, but - to tell the truth - there were days when Wilko was scared to find an empty bed, when going to visit Lew.
Probably everyone knows how boring and depressing it is to be in hospital, right? Just imagine how horrible it must be when you don't even know if you will get out of it alright in the end or not!
Wilko mentioned, Lew really enjoys to read emails, messages, letters and post cards from his friends and fans, it cheers him up a lot. That's why we've thought to put a note here at the web sites. Let's help Lew through the days with some good stuff to read, folks! Let him know he's not forgotten! Make him smile! Send him a note to give him hope and support in these dark times.
I'm known for being quite straight and direct, honest and emotional, so I have to add this:
Don't hesitate to write. Do it RIGHT NOW! Always be aware it's maybe too late sooner as you can imagine.
Well, I don't want to paint things black here, but the sad loss of Lee Brilleaux has made me painfully realize, some things have to be said and done right in time...
Switch to the
latest update - as things were turmulous
in the meantime,
but obviously have changed to the better for Lew.
Update Sep. 18th 2001:
Lew is released from hospital in the meantime, now searching for a home.
The Message Board will stay open, so if you want to add some words for, feel free to do so. If you don't want to have the public to read your message, send an E-Mail to Gabi. I promise to collect all postings and continue to get them through to Lew (whenever possible).
On August 29th 2001 I sent off the first package of messages to Wilko, he took them to Lew.
On September 4th 2001 another pack of notes was sent to Wilko.
Until now Lew received 3 packages including your emails and messages nicely written on funny postcards.
It's great and touching to see how many people from all over the world support Lew!
Thanks a lot!
Gabi and (signing in the name of) Wilko
An e-mail from Lew. Sent in Sept. 2001:
Thanks very much to you and all the people who sent such kind messages. They really meant a lot to me. I am out of hospital now and staying with Wilko and Irene for the time being. When I am well enough I'm hoping to do some recording..... Meanwhile, thanks again to everybody.
Lew also attached a harmonica sound file (wav, 162 Kb)
Update Nov. 4, 2001:
Wilko's wife Irene has informed me: Lew has found a new home now and obviously enjoys the usual day life again. After he has bought himself some harmonicas and an acoustic guitar some weeks ago I hope he also will return to the music scene some time soon!
Update May 17, 2002:
Unfortunately noone in Canvey or elsewhere can give me news or other info about what and how Lew is doing in the meantime. Heard some rumour he's in a wheelchair now, but I hope this only stays a rumour! So if someone knows to which place Lew has disappeared, please send me an email and I will add the info onto this page.
Update May 28, 2002:
I received an email from Lindsay, wife of Lew's ex-bass player Johnny Squirrel, with some great and fresh news about our ''good boy'':
''On Saturday (May 25th), John was shopping in Southend High Street with our kids..... and who should call out to him, but Lew! John says he thinks it must be about 20 years since he last spoke to him, although he has seen him around a couple of times, and hooted him when he was driving several months back, though Lew didn't see or maybe didn't recognise him.
Anyway, John says Lew looks well, says he has been behaving himself for 3 months, is talking about the possibility of putting a band back together (he knows there is still a good deal of interest in France in particular).
And he definitely was not in a wheelchair!''
That's what I call good news! - A big THANK YOU to Lindsay for this 1st hand info!!
Update Oct 5, 2002 - E-mail from Steve Hooker:
"hi. i thought you'd want to know that lew lewis is in hospital again (he's been back on the gear). i don't have too many other details, only that it's somewhere in the docklands area of east london and that he's allowed out, but i think it's some kind of drug rehab place? i think it would do him good to get away from the regular haunts in southend - you could never know how much negative energy there is around here. wilko would be able to fill you in a bit more. incidentally we (wilko and i) will be appearing together more again in the future (4 dates booked for 2003!)
Steve Hooker Rockin' Trio (External link)
Thank you, Steve, for sending this info.
Update April 7, 2003:
Coming from a reliable source, the latest news on Lew follow:
In opposite to any death-rumours, Lew Lewis is alive and well and still on the way of recovery. Good people do care for him and look after the ol' Canvey boy. He was in fact for about 2 month in a special hospital, not been seen strolling around on the streets, that's supposedly reason for some people thinking he's ''gone''. No, he isn't. - Good to know, right?
(Thanks to Dean K. for the ''hot line'' ;o))
Update May 5, 2003:
Lindsay again was providing more good news on Lew. Here's her email(s) from today:
Just to let you know our very own Lew Lewis got up and played on 3 numbers on Friday (2 May) at Joe Strummer's memorial gig at Chinnery's here in Southend.
Swindle were the main band of the evening and a few surprise guests had been promised, and I went along with a couple of friends and was absolutely delighted when they announced they were to be joined on harmonica.... by Lew Lewis.
It really was great to see him playing again, brought back lots of terrific memories and great to see he can still play that harmonica. He played on one song, and then joined Swindle for two encores at the end.
I had a brief chat with him, he said how he had been in a bad way, practically at death's door not too long ago by the sound of it (the music was very loud, I couldn't catch everything) but he's hanging on and trying hard. It must be really difficult for him, but I reminded him there are an awful lot of people who DON'T want to lose him.
John (my husband, ex-bass player with Lew in Lew Lewis Reformer and Lew Lewis Band days) was at home that night looking after the kids. (Just as it should be!) He was really pleased when I got back and told him Lew had played, but also really disappointed to have missed him. He sends his very best wishes, as do my friends Christine and Suzanne who were with me that evening and just as pleased as I was to see him play.
All the best to you Lew, and thanks for a lot of fun way back when in the Stiff day including watching Reformer support the Clash at Ipswich. (I didn't much enjoy washing all the spit off John's clothes the next day!)
(Thanks for such an excellent website Gabi)''
''Hi again Gabi,
I forgot to add (to my earlier email about Lew Lewis) that for anyone interested, John (aka Squirrel) is now playing with Dave Finnegan's Commitments (they recently played in your part of the world, Cologne) and the theatre show, Sweet Home Chicago.
Thank YOU, Lindsay. This email made my day. If you speak to Lew again, please send him very best wishes from me. We never met in person, but I still hope to make up on this some day.
In my announcement notes for the 10th Lee Brilleaux Memorial I wote, ''Me secretly hopes finally to meet Lew Lewis in person. After he was seen on stage playing harmonica at a Joe Strummer Memorial in Southend last Friday (May 2nd) this wish seems not too far from becoming fulfilled, who knows?!''
Hanging around at the Oysterfleet during the day of the memorial, even after the show has started in the evening, noone has heard or seen Lew. You can imagine the surprisement of audience and musicians, when suddenly Lew Lewis appeared at the memorial, saying he would like to join in! Lew received a big cheer from the fans when he shared the stage with Robert, Steve, Phil and Kevin from the Feelgoods for ''Help me''. Some even didn't stop shouting ''Lew! Lew!'' during his performance (somewhat annoying, especially after one guy shouted straight into my ear all the time...). Anyway, I tried to fetch this truly special event onto photo and video with my digital camera. The shots can be viewed in my 10th Memorial Gallery.
Later I saw Lew talking to some people of the audience. I know it was not kind to interrupt them, but afraid to lose him and never again to have the chance to talk to him (isn't he the best ''disappearing to unknown places'' man?!!) I went to him and sayed, ''Hi, I am Gabi.'' Lew looked at me a bit puzzled, replying ''Hi.'' - Me, sending a little hint, ''I'm the one who sent the postcards.'' - And yet he straight turned to me, layed his arm around my shoulder (now me was puzzled) and whispered into my ear, ''Gabi! You saved my life.'' That was strange cause it took me by surprise. I have to admit, his words touched me, although I do not really believe anything I have done has helped to save Lew's life, but it was nice he said so. And maybe all the postcards with supportive messages from his fans made him thinking, maybe they helped to lead him into the right direction again. You never know. Positive energy is a mighty sword.
Some time later Lew joined me and Warren Kennedy for a chat in the gangway of the Oysterfleet, where Lew signed a Feelgood Story book as a ''thanks'' for all the support. Imagine, he even hugged and kissed me! What shall I say, after the many tales I've heard about Lew this was the last thing I expected, to see him in a good shape, obviously pleased and happy (at least in that moment), smiling at me. It made me feel good and happy and lightened. It sounds absurd, but this state of mind is the only excuse I have for me later leaving the book behind in the gangway (HOW THE HECK COULD I BE SO DAM*ED STUPID?!!!) and - of course - someone unknown took it away. Later, after recognizing the loss, I've searched the whole place but could find the book nowhere. Next morning I asked many people (fans and hotel staff) if someone has picked up the book or knows who has got it or where it may be, no success. [I've made a - now deleted - note on the website about the loss which went out lucky. See the following update.]
Photo © by Michel Agnés, Nice, France (Merci beaucoup, Michel ;:o)) - added on August 3, 2003
Update May 26, 2003:
Today the postman brought a package from England. As soon as I'd signed for it I was sure it would contain the book with Lew's autograph which I had lost at the Lee Memorial on May 9th. And I was right!!!
Little Dave, whom I have met before several times, has returned the book to me after he has received it from someone else (as payment for taking this person to the memorial). Already the night after the show, when flicking through the book, Dave realized it was my book. Being abroad with the Dutch folks for 2 weeks and not having my address available he couldn't post it earlier. An e-mail he sent on May 10th (the day after the memorial) went lost due to some strange activities of my online-email account provider (who started putting proper emails into the trash bin instead of only deleting the spam crap...). Anyway, I am VERY happy the book is back in my hands. Now the memorial will stay in my memories as absolutely perfect!
To show you what all this hassle was about, I've scanned the autograph (Click on the graphic for bigger format).
It might be coincidence only, that Lew wrote ''Be lucky'', but he was right. I wish, him too will always be lucky.
Thank you very much, Dave!
Let's have a drink on this at the memorial next year!
~ Gabi :o)
P.S. - Dave: Good to hear you received back the ring that you had lost at the same occasion. You are right, the true Feelgood fans are are a special and very nice bunch of people.
John Butterfield and Lew Lewis
10th Lee Brilleaux Memorial, 9th May 2003
Photo courtesy Andy Thomas
Update December 19, 2003:
On Dec. 14th 2003 Christopher Somerville (whom is a journalist for an English newspaper and reported from the ''Feelgoods Life on the Road'' at various occasions) has sent me an email, which I have read with pleasure. I like if people's mistakes get set right. Funny enough below mentioned Will Birch from Mojo Magazine comes from Southend and is deep involved in the ''Canvey area music scene'' since decades. Seems he has not met Lew in person since a long time (or maybe Lew nicked some of his stamps??!! - Just kidding...). Anyway, I only can congratulate Christopher to his writing - and hats off for MOJO to print the letter.
Having read Will Birch's article about rock'n'roll outlaws in Issue 114 of MOJO magazine, in which he painted a dire picture of Lew Lewis's state of mind and health, I wrote to MOJO about Lew's appearance at the Lee Brilleaux Memorial this year. They were kind enough to print my letter in Issue 116 (July 2003), as follows:
A new Lew?
With reference to harmonica virtuoso and sometime jailbird Lew Lewis, readers concerned for the well-being of the trouble-prone harp magician will be pleased to learn of his guest appearance with Dr Feelgood during the annual Lee Brilleaux Memorial gig at the Oysterfleet Hotel on Canvey Island on May 9.
Looking healthy and keen, Lew jumped up on stage alongside a motley and hard-rocking collection of Feelgoods past and present. With Steve 'Whirlwind' Walwyn chopping seven shades of blue out of an old Telecaster at his elbow - and an enthusiastic crowd of Feelgood fans from all over the globe cheering him on - Lew blasted plenty of fine howling R&B out of his poor man's orchestra. An encouraging cameo to set the seal on yet another night of Southend Delta magic.
I thought you'd like to know!
See you at the next Memorial!
With all good wishes,
Well done, Mr. Somerville! And thanks a lot for sharing this with us.
Update April 2, 2004:
Steve Hooker has crashed into Lew in and around Southend occasionally, so Lew obviously is alright. No idea if he has returned into the music circuit, but I suppose Lew jams around here and there. Who knows?! Fingers crossed he also will be back on stage at the upcoming Lee Memorial in May...
Update May 27, 2004:
Lew played at the 11th Lee Brilleaux Memorial at the Oysterfleet on Canvey Island in May. He arrived early and we had a good chat. Lew is obviously in a good health state (no drugs, only Guiness ;-)) and eager to get his feet back on stage permanently. Currently he is involved in a band project with former Dr Feelgood roadmanager Dean Kennedy (well known also from the Dr Feelgood Music Bar) and Dean's brother Warren. Unfortunately the Kennedy brothers were on tour with the Divine Comedy, so the earlier planned appearance of the three Canvey Boys at the Memorial did not happen. Luckily former and unforgotten Feelgood guitar-maniac Wilko Johnson attended the show and supplied the right riffs to Lew's harmonica and vocals. Hopefully more of this will follow... Good luck, Lew, and keep on!!
Update October 31, 2004:
On Thursday, 4th November, Lew Lewis is playing at the basement of the Royal Hotel Southend-on-Sea (Sea High Street). Our good old Sparko is playing bass, Warren Kennedy plays guitar and Phil Stark the drums. The band name is ''Out 4 a Lark'', the idea of the gig is to get Lew playing again...as he should. Also playing is Larry Wallis!
[Thanks to Warren for the info! :o)]
Update December 17, 2004:
1.) 23.February 1987 - Southend Evening Echo
2.) 10.March 1987 - Dingwalls, Benefit for Lew
3.) 1987 - Standard Recorder - Benefit for Lew
.......................BIGGER IMAGE .................................. BIGGER IMAGE ............................................... BIGGER IMAGE .............................
Reviews of Lew's single release ''Shame Shame Shame'' :
1987 - Melody Maker - Review ''Shame Shame Shame'' single
21.November 1987 - Sounds - Review ''Shame Shame Shame'' single ..........
3.November 2004 - Southend Evening Echo :
Preview on Lew's gig on 4.November at the basement of the Royal Hotel Southend-on-Sea.
........BIGGER IMAGE ................................................ BIGGER IMAGE - PART1
.....................................................................................BIGGER IMAGE - PART 2
Update March 21, 2007 - An excerpt of an email from Julia Greenslade:
We've never spoken or met but I'm a friend of Lew's and he's asked me to get in contact with you. I'm not sure whether you're aware but he's been quite ill again this past year. He's making a recovery now and trying very hard to get things together. (...)
I'm under no illusions about Lew, he can be hard work and so much of his life has been wasted through drugs, but he's clean now.
With best wishes Julia
Update April 5, 2008 - Email from Lew:
I am alive and fairly well. I'm living in Southend and playing and writing music at home with a view to releasing something very soon, probably via and on the internet.
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