Happy Together Tour comes to Keswick

Gary Lewis

In the be­gin­ning, he de­cided to name his group simply Gary and The Play­boys. That’s be­cause Gary Lewis, son of the com­ic and act­or Jerry Lewis, didn’t want to ride on his fath­er’s fam­ous coat­tails.

“I pur­posely didn’t use my last name in the be­gin­ning be­cause I didn’t want any­one to put two and two to­geth­er. I felt my fath­er’s name didn’t do any­thing for me, it didn’t open any doors and I didn’t want it to. I wanted to au­di­tion with oth­er bands and get a job at Dis­ney­land be­cause we de­served it.”

That’s Gary Lewis de­scrib­ing the early years of his band, which will be part of the Happy To­geth­er Tour com­ing to the Keswick Theatre in Glen­side on June 24. In all, five groups will be per­form­ing that night. In­clud­ing Lewis, audi­ences will hear The Turtles fea­tur­ing Flo and Ed­die; Chuck Neg­ron, formerly of Three Dog Night; Mark Farner, formerly of Grand Funk Rail­road; and Mitch Ry­der of The De­troit Wheels.

Lewis said he star­ted with the tour in 1985, the second year after its in­cep­tion, took a long break, and has re­turned be­cause he so en­joys the mu­sic and the ca­marader­ie.

Put­ting to­geth­er a band — a suc­cess­ful band — back in the ’60s was no easy task. And it was Lewis’ moth­er who put up the money to se­cure the equip­ment, pay for the stu­dio and re­cord­ing time, and any­thing else band mem­bers needed in hopes they would even­tu­ally make a name for them­selves.

“My moth­er, Patti Lewis, sang with the Jimmy Dorsey Band in the ’40s. She said she sang up un­til she was eight months preg­nant with me. So she un­der­stood what we were feel­ing, and wanted to help us as much as she could. The only thing she asked was that we not tell my fath­er be­cause if we failed, she’d have to then tell my fath­er where all the money went.”

Luck­ily for all con­cerned, they didn’t fail. In the sum­mer of 1964, the group was dis­covered by pro­du­cer Snuff Gar­rett. Be­fore long, with the pro­du­cer/ar­ranger team of Gar­rett and Le­on Rus­sell be­hind them, they took their first single, This Dia­mond Ring, straight to No. 1 on the charts. They fol­lowed with more Top 10 songs such as Count Me In, Save Your Heart For Me, Every­body Loves a Clown, She’s Just My Style and oth­ers.

In 1965, Gary Lewis him­self was named Cash Box Magazine’s “Male Vo­cal­ist of the Year,” win­ning the hon­or over oth­er nom­in­ees like Elvis Pres­ley and Frank Sinatra. Ad­di­tion­ally, he was the first and only artist dur­ing the ’60s to have his first sev­en re­leases reach Bill­board magazine’s Top 10 on the Hot 100 charts.

With the ad­vent of disco in the ’70s, Lewis’ kind of mu­sic fell out of fa­vor, and so he de­cided not to per­form and opened a mu­sic store in Cali­for­nia in­stead. But with the ’60s mu­sic mak­ing a comeback, he or­gan­ized the band once again, with dif­fer­ent mem­bers this time, and went back on the road.

“And I’m so happy to be here,” Lewis, 68, said. “I love tour­ing and be­ing out on the road, and I plan to con­tin­ue do­ing this as long as I can.”

As for his fath­er, whom he sees when he can, he did even­tu­ally find out about the money, his moth­er’s help, and the suc­cess the band was en­joy­ing..

“He al­ways told me that when it comes to my ca­reer, as long as I give it 100 per­cent of my ef­fort and love what I do, he’s fine with it. And I agree with that philo­sophy. The only thing he did say firmly was, ‘Don’t cut your hair like those darn Beatles.’ And I didn’t — mainly be­cause I was still liv­ing at home!” ••

The con­cert starts at 7:30 p.m. For tick­ets and more in­form­a­tion, call 215-572-7650 or vis­it ht­tp://www.keswicktheatre.com/?events=happy-to­geth­er-2014

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