If the nickname came today, you'd swear that Smiley Lewis got his because there wasn't a damn photo of him anywhere online where he doesn't have that big shit eating grin But no, it was because early on he was missing two front teeth and someone thought it would be funny. You've got to hand it to him. He really didn't have a lot to smile about, at least that much.
Born Overton Amos Lemons, He hopped a train when he was in his teens and rode it all the way to the end of the line, New Orleans, where he was taken in by the Lewis family, hence the surname. His records didn't sell a lot, but covers of his songs did. Unfortunately, music publishing wasn't as it is today. At one point he was so broke, he was taking public transportation to gigs, while Fats Domino raked it in getting hits from his songs. Dave Edmunds's cover of his "I Hear You Knockin'" made it all the way to #4 on the US charts around 1971. That's where many people first heard of Lewis. Edmunds, to his credit, name-drops Lewis's name in his cover (along with Huey Smith and Chuck Berry). I know I carried that name around in my head for years before I ever heard him.
You have to check the one at Diddy Wah, "Shame, Shame, Shame". Along with Lewis, Dave Bartholomew on trumpet and Lee Allen on sax. All three are New Orleans royalty.
~ NOTE: ALL MEDIA IS HOSTED BY THE BLOGS & SITES NAMED BELOW ~Listen:
Smiley Lewis I hear You Knockin' mp3 at DJ Perro
Dave Edmunds - I Hear You Knockin' mp3 at Medicine Films
Smiley Lewis - Shame, Shame, Shame mp3 at Diddy Wah Go there to get it.
Smiley Lewis - Bumpity Bump mp3 at Hearsay
Smiley Lewis - Big Mamou mp3 at Ray Carram.com