Veteran musician extraordinaire “Pal” Joey Lewis passed away at the Port-of-Spain General Hospital at half past twelve yesterday morning. He was 78.
The first thing his wife of 52 years Judy told Newsday shortly after his passing was, “The man gorn and leave me!” She then spoke of her last hours with him.
“Sunday morning after church, I told him we are going Jouvert.
He smiled and said ‘yes’.
He talked and ate porridge.
A little later after drinking water he was nauseous. For the next few hours he wasn’t looking good so we called the ambulance.
It came around 6 pm to take him to the POSGH where he was put on oxygen and the doctors started working on his heart.” Lewis had been ailing for the past 18 months with Parkinson’s Disease but it was the surgery which he underwent six months ago that left him not himself, said Judy. She stated Lewis did chemotherapy but that only made him feel worse so the treatment was abandoned. Lewis then resorted to water and message therapy until his passing.
Lewis was awarded the Hummingbird Medal (Gold) in 2002 on the nation’s 40th Independence anniversary, for his service in the field of music. Back then, he told Newsday: “If you talk about a musician who paid his dues, I did! But it was a struggle of 48 years.” Lewis had been running one of the oldest bands in the western hemisphere and never had a slip. However, despite his wide repertoire of music, he lamented that for years there were so many radio stations yet one rarely heard his songs.
He got into the music business at age ten and formed his own orchestra “Joey Lewis and the teenagers” at 16. The Joey Lewis orchestra was the first band to play on local television. He was the resident band for Hazel Ward-Redman’s “Dance Party”, “Scouting for Talent” at Hilton and “Buy Local” competition. He played for the likes of Sparrow (Slinger Francisco), Terror (Fitzgerald Henry) and a number of other well-established calypsonians, whose careers he felt he was part of, citing that he either played guitar or piano ‘live’ or on their recordings.
He was the first person ever to have had a piano album in Trinidad and he did it when he was 22. It was called `Latin Caribbean’. In the days of Brassorama, Lewis won with Bill Trotman’s `Back To School’. That year he won best playing band on the road as well as the Lucky Jordan competition.
In the days of the Dutchie Brothers, Clarence Curvan, Fitz Von Bryan, Lewis was a force to be reckoned with. Up to his passing Lewis’ “Pal” Joey Lewis Orchestra released more albums than any other TT band, 83 of them as well as more than 142 45s records and a dozen compact discs. One of his first albums was done with the RCA record label 58 years ago, mainly to attract the Latin countries. Also, five of the 19 selections were his compositions.
Lewis composed his own music like ‘Joey’s saga’, ‘Debbie’ sung by Francine and ‘Time to Wine’, with one of his biggest hits being, “You Will Always Be A Friend”, sung by Hot Chocolate with Lewis on the keyboard. He was proud of his work but constantly moaned the lack of respect for people in the entertainment business. He would say: “When I go out, people recognise you, give you respect and treat you like King…but not so in my country.” Unlike other bands in the land, when “Joey” played, one could expect to hear two sessions of two-hour duration, entertaining with a repertoire for all occasions and for any type of people. Lewis thrilled audiences in Canada, New York and the wider Caribbean for decades before returning from his Canada base in 1976.
After that his Joey Lewis Orchestra continued to play year round all over TT and the Caribbean.
The “Pal” Joey Lewis Orchestra is scheduled to play at De Nu Pub (Mas Camp Pub) this coming Sunday.
Frank Ward of the Mas Camp Pub told Newsday yesterday: “Joey never use to play in lent until six years ago when Las Lap Sunday was introduced.” Ward added: “Lewis had four fixed dates on which he played at the MCP. They were Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, the first Sunday after Carnival, and the last Sunday in the year. I believe the band will play on Sunday for nostalgia.” Lewis leaves to mourn his wife Judy, children Jerry, Joanne, Charmaine, Debra, Benedict, Judy and Gail, eight grand children, four great grandchildren and sibling Jean. Funeral details will be released in a subsequent announcement.
Publicado por Trinidad & Tobago Newsday
RIP, Joey Lewis
The Savannah was also the venue for Lewis’ funeral on Saturday morning, conducted by Pastor Rawlston Bodkyn of the Enterprise Open Bible Church, and assuming the format of a back-in-times dance and concert.
The Pal Joey Lewis Orchestra played many items before, during and after the service, with mourners obliging by taking to the dance floor. The band was augmented by keyboardist Pelham Goddard, trumpeters Errol Ince and Enrique Moore, and saxophonist Malcolm Boyce. Singing Francine, who was celebrating her birthday on Saturday, rendered a medley of three songs. During the service, snacks and refreshments were served. After the service, Lewis was buried at Western Cemetery, St James.
Overseas-based show promoters, music producers and disc jockeys seized the opportunity of being still in Trinidad after the funeral of Joey Lewis to hold a reunion and lime at the Brown Court, Curepe residence of popular DJ Donald “Sugar Fingers” Brown last Wednesday.
Among the foreign-based and local showbiz folk attending were New York-based producer Rawlston “Charlie” James; promoters Hollis Kam, Clyde Henry, Pat James and Cliff Harris; and DJs Mike the Magician (Texas); and Michael “Scobie” George (New York). The DJs were unanimous in their intention of coming together for one big Carnival fete in 2017, if only to show how calypso and soca was played back in the day.