Album:An Introduction To New York Blues
Billy Lewis is best known as leader of a later and unauthorized version of The Drifters. But it looks like in an earlier life, he recorded a few singles for legendary producer Bobby Robinson including Heart Trouble in 1960. It sounds great but the sound was probably dated then which is why it went nowhere. Lewis was from Jacksonville, FL and he moved to New York. Bobby Robinson owned the New York record shop Bobby's Record Shop. He worked with Atlantic Records owner Ahmet Ertegun in the early 50s and owned various record labels in the 50s and early 60s. Later on in the 70s he was involved in the early days of rap music. Robinson produced blues artists like Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, Champion Jack Dupree and Elmore James. But his biggest hit was the 1959 smash Kansas City by Wilbert Harrison. No doubt he was looking for another hit when he released Heart Trouble by Billy Lewis in 1960. Robinson did strike gold again with Ya Ya by Lee Dorsey and Tossin' and Turnin' by Bobby Lewis. You can get Heart Trouble on this CD that seems to be a Bobby Robinson sampler. Billy Lewis resurfaced as a member of the Drifters in 1975. He left in 1979 but then formed his own version of the Drifters. He returned to The Drifters in 1986 and left again in 1989. He started his own group called Sound of the Drifters and then later led Billy Lewis' Nu Drifters. He even released a CD called Keep The Legend Alive in 2005. Attempts by the owners of the Drifters name to stop Lewis were unsuccessful. And he wasn't the only one leading an unauthorized version of The Drifters. It's very confusing. Lewis continued until his 2010 death. He always claimed he recorded for major labels. I don't think that was true but he did record for Bobby Robinson. Here's a video of Heart Trouble by Billy Lewis. Thanks to Soul Music HQ for the Billy Lewis bio.