Wednesday, August 07, 2013

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Gary Lewis and the Playboys

Artist:Gary Lewis and the Playboys
Song:This Diamond Ring
Album:Legendary Masters Series

Gary Lewis and the Playboys were one of the few American pop groups to have sustained success in the wake of the British Invasion. This Diamond Ring was their only number one hit. Of course the most interesting thing about Gary Lewis and the Playboys is that lead singer and drummer Gary Lewis is the son of legendary comedian Jerry Lewis. Lewis was given a drum set for his 14th birthday and then in 1964, he formed The Playboys. His mom secretly financed his music because she didn't think dad would approve. At first, Lewis did not sing and he has acknowledged that he's not a good singer. The band got a gig at at Disneyland. Legendary bandleader Les Brown told Liberty Records producer Snuff Garrett about them and he signed them to a contract. The ironic thing is Garrett lived down the street from the Lewis family but didn't know Gary had a band. Garrett thought the best way to make the band popular was to make Lewis the lead singer and use his celebrity. Garrett hired session singer Ron Hicklin to sing the basic vocal and had Lewis sing along with it. And he hired the Los Angeles session musicians known as The Wrecking Crew to play on the record. Musicians included Leon Russell and Hal Blaine. This Diamond Ring was written by Al Kooper, Bob Brass and Irwin Levine. Kooper says he intended the song for an R & B group like The Drifters and he hated the Lewis recording. Bobby Vee rejected This Diamond Ring before Garrett gave it to Lewis. Garrett got New York DJ Murray The K to play the song if the band would appear on his concerts. Garrett also got the band to appear on The Ed Sullivan Show and had Lewis sing live to backing tracks. This Diamond Ring topped the Billboard Hot 100 in 1965. There was a band but personnel changed a lot and by the end of 1965, Lewis and accordion player John West were the only original members left. Gary Lewis and the Playboys had some other hits like Count Me In and Everybody Loves A Clown. It ended when Lewis was drafted into the US Army in 1967. He attempted to resume his music career after his 1968 discharge but other than a 1968 cover of Sealed With A Kiss was unsuccessful. You can get all of their hits on this comp. Gary Lewis retired from music and ran a music shop in the 70s. He returned to music in the 80s and still tours the nostalgia circuit today. Here's Gary Lewis and the Playboys performing This Diamond Ring 1965.

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