PopBopRocktilUDrop

From the Land of Band Box Records

Spotlight: Barbara Lewis

May 23, 2020
craigr244

Billboard Magazine ran mini-biographies from 1959 into the early 1960’s sometimes providing us with interesting tidbits – Each biography was generally tied to a current release on behalf of the artist

Barbara Lewis (“Hello Stranger”)

Charted Number 3 Hot 100 – Number 1 R&B – May, 1963

When Barbara Lewis first broke onto the record popularity charts it would come on her third attempt and would come in a big way.  “Hello Stranger” – a Barbara Lewis sole composition, would nearly reach the top of the Hot 100 peaking at number 3 and would take the top spot on the nation’s R&B charts holding that for two weeks.

Barbara Lewis was born Barbara Ann Lewis in February of 1944 in South Lyon, Michigan – not Salem, Michigan as presented in Wikipedia.  She is alive today (May, 2020).  Lewis was yet another pioneer in the music industry – mainly composing her own songs.  In fact, when she released her first long play – every song on the disc was a Lewis’ composition.

Barbara came from a musical family with both father and mother fronting their own orchestras.  A cousin, Shelton Brooks, was an accomplished song writer having penned “The Dark Town Strutter’s Ball” and “Some of These Days”.  The latter was popularized by Sophie Tucker and would become her theme song.

Cousin Shelton Brooks

Barbara started composing songs at the age of 9-years and learned piano, guitar and harmonica.  She was first discovered by DJ Ollie McLaughlin who was a major promoter of R&B shows.  McLaughlin discovered the talented Del Shannon just before meeting Barbara Lewis.  Lewis didn’t take an offer to go into music too seriously, instead thinking she would pursue a career as a nurse.

But, with encouragement from her mother, Lewis headed for Chicago to lay down a few tracks in the Chess Records’ studio.  The result was a release on the “Karen” label which was promoted by McLaughlin throughout the Detroit area.  The record would soon be picked up by Atlantic Records and reissued but without national success.

Ollie McLaughlin

Her next recording session would take place at Motown’s “Studio A” and the resulting “My Mama Told Me” would also fall short of national attention.

Her next venture into Motown’s “Studio A” would place Lewis on a new path.  “Hello Stranger” and two other tracks were recorded.  Barbara was on her way!  SIDE NOTE:  The title words “Hello Stranger” are the first two words delivered by Lewis on the song – but never again repeated!

From “Hello Stranger” it was off the the races with a long tour joining Dick Clark’s caravan of stars.  Her next big moment would come from the pen of the late Van McCoy – namely “Baby I’m Yours” which Lewis initially was not excited about – but when challenged to bring it to life – she did just that.

Van McCoy

Barbara would follow “Baby I’m Yours” with her third trademark release “Make Me Your Baby” which would become a number 9 R&B hit behind the number 5 “Baby I’m Yours”.

When the hits quit coming, Barbara would move over to Enterprise Records in the Spring of 1970 – a Stax record’s subsidiary – releasing three singles none of which would chart.

When Lewis ducked out of the music spotlight in the early 1970’s, the industry lost track of the talented singer/writer.  It would be Casey Kasem who would eventually track her down in order to appear on a television special.  Her own previous agent had no idea where she was – and could not forward royalty checks to her until she was finally located.

“Hello Stranger” and “Baby I’m Yours” was recorded by other artists returned to the nation’s charts through the years.  Barbara is an inductee into the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall Of Fame and is a recipient of the “Pioneer Award” from the “Rhythm and Blues Foundation”.

Barbara Lewis Selected Discography

45 – Karen 313 – My Heart Went Do Dat Da b/w The Longest Night Of the Year – April, 1962

45 – Atlantic 2141 – My Heart Went Do Dat Da b/w The Longest Night Of the Year – April, 1962

45 – Atlantic 2159 – Mama Told Me b/w Gonna Love You Till the End Of Time – August, 1962

Backed by “The Andantes” of Motown

45 – Atlantic 2184 – Hello Stranger – Number 3 Hot 100 – Number 1 R&B for 2 weeks – b/w Think A Little Sugar – March, 1963

45 – Atlantic 2200 – If You Love Her – Number 131 Bubbling Under Charts – b/w Straighten Up Your Heart – July, 1963

45 – Atlantic 2214 – Puppy Love – Number 38 Hot 100 – Number 14 R&B b/w Snap Your Fingers – Number 71 Hot 100 – Number 14 R&B – November, 1963

45 – Atlantic 2227 – Spend A Little Time – Number 119 Bubbling Under Charts – Number 26 R&B – Someday We’re Gonna Love Again – Number 124 Bubbling Under Charts – Number 34 R&B – April, 1964

45 – Atlantic 2255 – Pushin’ A Good Thing Too Far – Number 113 Bubbling Under Charts – Number 47 R&B b/w Come Home – October, 1964

45 – Atlantic 2283 – Baby I’m Yours – Number 11 Hot 100 – Number 5 R&B – b/w I Say Love – March, 1965

45 – Atlantic 2300 – Make Me Your Baby – Number 11 Hot 100 – Number 9 R&B b/w Love To Be Loved – August, 1965

45 – Atlantic 2316 – Don’t Forget About Me b/w It’s Magic – January, 1966

45 – Atlantic Extended Play 8110 – Baby I’m Yours – January, 1966

45 – Atlantic 2346 – Make Me Belong To You – Number 28 Hot 100 – Number 36 R&B b/w Girls Need Loving Care – July, 1966

45 – Atlantic 2361 – Baby What Do You Want Me To Do b/w I Remember The Feeling – October, 1966

45 – Atlantic 2400 – I’ll Make Him Love Me b/w Love Makes The World Go Round – April, 1967

45 – Atlantic 2482 – Sho-Nuff (It’s Got To Be Your Love) b/w Thankful For What I’ve Got – February, 1968

45 – Atlantic 2514 – I’ll Keep Believing b/w On Bended Knees – May, 1968

45 – Atlantic 2550 – You’re A Dream Maker b/w I’m All You’ve Got – August, 1968

45 – Enterprise 9012 – Just The Way You Are Today b/w You Made A Woman Out Of Me – March, 1970

45 – Enterprise 9027 – Ask The Lonely b/w Why Did It Take So Long – November, 1970

45 – Enterprise 9029 – That’s The Way I Like It (I Like It That Way) b/w Anyway – March, 1971

45 – Reprise 1146 – Rock and Roll Lullaby b/w I’m So Thankful – March, 1973

LP – Atlantic 8086 – Hello Stranger – July, 1963

LP – Atlantic 8090 – Snap Your Fingers Barbara Lewis Sings The Great Soul Tunes – January, 1964

LP – Atlantic 8110 – Baby I’m Yours – Number 118 Hot 200 – August, 1965

LP – Atlantic 8118 – It’s Magic – April, 1966

LP – Atlantic 8173 – Workin’ On A Groovy Thing – June, 1968

LP – Enterprise 1006 – The Many Grooves of Barbara Lewis – May, 1970

LP – Atlantic 8286 – The Best Of Barbara Lewis – 1971

LP – Solid Smoke 8014 – Hello Stranger – September, 1981

Barbara Lewis Miscellaneous Discography

LP – Roulette 25293 – 20 Original Winners Of 1964 with Puppy Love – February, 1965

LP – Original Sound 9365 – KHJ Boss Goldens Vol. 1 – 1965

LP – Atlantic 1 – Atlantic-Atco All-Star Showcase with Baby I’m Yours – 1965

LP – Atlantic 501 – The Super Hits with Baby I’m Yours – Number 12 Hot 200  – July, 1967

LP – Atlantic 8140 – Beach Beat with Think A Little Sugar – 1967

LP – Roulette 25347 – Color Me OBG Radio Station WDRC with Puppy Love – 1967

LP – Take 6 2004 – KFRC’s 21 Golden Rocks with Hello Stranger – 1967

LP – Atlantic 8191 – Beach Beat Vol. 2 with Hello Stranger – June, 1968

LP – Adam VIII 8004 – Soul Train Hall Of Fame with Hello Stranger – 1973

LP – Arista 5000 – Stardust Original Soundtrack Recording with Make Me Your Baby – March, 1975

LP – Warner Special Products 3507 – Super Girls with Hello Stranger – 1979

LP – Rhino 64 – Wonder Women The History Of The Girl Group Sound Vol. 2 with Don’t Forget About Me – 1984

LP – Solid Smoke 8021 – Detroit Gold Volume 1 with Hello Stranger – 1984

LP – Rhino 65 – Sultry Soul Sisters – Wonder Women Vol. 3 with Baby I’m Yours – 1984

LP – Time Life 1 – Classic Rock 1965 with Baby I’m Yours – 1987

One Comment

  1. The Billboard blurb says she wanted to make a folk album! Wonder how far she got with that….

    I never realized her recorded output was so vast. Thanks for shining a light on Ms. Lewis – so much to discover!

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