Gary Lewis & the Playboys

July 31, 1945
Gary LewisVocals, drums, guitar
Al RamseyGuitar1965-1967
John WestGuitar1965-1967
David WalkerKeyboards1965-1967
David CostellBass1965-1967

Gary Lewis & the Playboys Artistfacts

  • Gary Lewis is the son of the comedian Jerry Lewis, but his famous father had little to do with his success. When the band got a gig at Disneyland, it was as Gary and the Playboys, and Lewis never mentioned that his dad was Jerry Lewis. It was at Disney where the band was discovered by the producer Snuff Garrett, who nurtured their career. Their single, "This Diamond Ring," was a #1 hit, and Gary Lewis became one of the biggest stars of 1965-1966.
  • The group's first 7 singles all hit the Top-10 in America. Producer Snuff Garrett timed the releases so they wouldn't compete with The Beatles - if he knew The Beatles had a single coming out, he would wait a few weeks before issuing a Gary Lewis & the Playboys song.
  • Lewis was born Cary Levitch - his dad's real name was Joseph Levitch, and his mom named him after the actor Cary Grant. When his father legally changed his name to Jerry Lewis, Cary's name was written on the document as "Gary Lewis." He was two years old at the time, and from then on was known by that name. Gary told us, "I said, 'Oh, man, I'm glad they made that mistake. I like Gary a lot better.' I didn't want to be Cary."
  • Lewis started out playing the drums, but switched to guitar in 1966 so he could better interact with the crowds. Why did he start on drums? Lewis told us: "This friend of my dad's kept coming over. Like every week he would come over. And my dad had a set of drums out in this house behind the main house, and this friend of my dad's kept saying, 'Hey, let's go out to the drums, I'll show you some stuff.' So here I am, five years old, and he would play something and I would repeat it right after him. And he kept telling me, 'Yeah, you're going to be good one day. This is great.' So when I'm about 14 years old, all of a sudden I realize this guy, this friend of my dad's, was Buddy Rich. And every time he'd come over he'd take me out in the back and show me things on drums. So isn't that amazing, for three to four years I was taking lessons from Buddy Rich."
  • There have been numerous Playboys over the years, including a completely new set when Lewis returned from the Army in 1968. At one point, Carl Radle was in the band. He later teamed up with Eric Clapton and was a member of Derek and the Dominos.

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